A lot of people don’t realize the milestone that these M1 chips represent in the computing world. Each year; computers get faster, more efficient, and are capable of doing more than the previous models. The M1 chip takes it to a whole new level. It makes advancements that we thought not possible. These chips will shape the computer industry in the next 5-100 years. The future is here!
ARM VS x86
To understand why Apple’s M1 chips are so special, you need to understand the difference between ARM chips and regular x86 chips, that we are used to seeing. In simpler terms, M1 chips use the same architecture as mobile processors. Smartphone benefits and features such as; battery life, instant wake, low power consumption, and faster processing are now possible on a laptop. This is goodbye to bulky machines that require excessive fans for cooling and poor battery life.
Apple’s M1 chips are based on the ARM architecture, which is a set of rules and methods that describe the functionality, organization, and implementation of computer systems. ARM architecture, based on RISC, doesn’t need to carry a lot of the baggage that CISC (x86) processors have to perform complex instructions. In comparison, x86 chips use more energy and require a lot of cooling to operate efficiently. This is why Apple was able to increase the battery life of their new Macbooks up to 20hrs of usage.
The ARM architecture was developed by Arm Ltd., a tech company based in Cambridge England. It licenses its technology to other companies, who design their own products that implement one of their architecture. Companies like Samsung, Qualcomm, Apple, and MediaTek use this technology to create chips for their devices.
All in one package
Similar to smartphone processors, Apple’s M1 uses a Unified memory architecture that allows the CPU, GPU, and other cores to exchange information with one another. With unified memory, the CPU and GPU can access memory simultaneously rather than copying data between one area and another. This also means that the RAM, GPU, and CPU will all be in one unified chip.
Take a look at Apple’s new iMac. It’s unbelievable how thin they were able to make it. This was only possible because the M1 chip holds the GPU, CPU, and RAM, therefore saving space. The new iMac also has two tiny fans to power it which is just crazy when you think about it.
What's the big deal.
Apple was not the first company to release an ARM-based computer. Microsoft released its Surface pro X with the SQ2 Qualcomm processor. It had a lot of negative reviews and the software was not polished enough. Of course, it’s a big deal now because Apple has done it; and they have blown us away. Part of it is the hype, and part of it is the appreciation of the performance of the M1 chip.
If you buy a Macbook with the new M1 processor, you might have to sacrifice some of your favorite applications. Not all apps support the ARM architecture, therefore you might have to wait for updates. Nevertheless, Apple has released a solution if your apps don’t have support. You can emulate any Mac application using Rosetta which will allow you to use your favorite apps. Once your app is updated to support the ARM architecture, you can easily switch. Another drawback is that you can’t use bootcamp to boot Windows natively but you can use Paralells to emulate Windows. To learn more about installing windows or triple booting, check out this post.
Apple killed it with the M1 processor. The chip is so powerful that it beats even some of the most powerful Intel chips at a fraction of the price. The M1 chip also doesn’t require bulky fans to cool it and runs way more efficiently than Intel chips.
Speed, efficiency, and amazing build quality; combined with the new Big Sur OS, delivers one of the best experiences of any computer. This is good for the competition as other companies will follow suit. I am very excited to see what computers will be like in the next 5-10 years. The future is here!!