Picture the scene. It’s 50 years in the future. We’re sitting with our grandchildren. They wobble over to us, lean closer, and ask what it was like when Apple’s M1 chips were first announced.
“Those were simpler times,” we’d say, “back in 2020, there was only a single M1 processor.”
Now it’s 2072, and the company has just launched the M1 Plus Pro Max Ultra Mega Demon Alpha Theta Gamma Burrito.
Okay, we’re not quite there yet, but it’s getting closer.
You know, like last night at Apple’s first 2022 virtual event. The company released its latest ARM processor, the M1 Ultra. Technically, it’s just a fusion of two M1 Max chips — but this still creates an incredibly powerful piece of hardware.
But it has also made things a lot more confusing.
Now, Apple’s ARM family has four members: M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra. This makes trying to pick a new Mac configuration like buying a sandwich at Subway.
So to simplify the differences between these chips, here’s a handy table for your viewing pleasure:
|M1||M1 Pro||M1 Max||M1 Ultra|
|Number of CPU cores||8||8/10||10||20|
|Number of transistors||16 billion||33.7 billion||57 billion||114 billion|
|Neural engine cores||8||16||16||32|
|Media engine||N/A||Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW|
One video decode engine
One video encode engine
One ProRes encode and decode engine
|Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW|
Video decode engine
Two video encode engines
Two ProRes encode and decode engines
|Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW
Two video decode engines
Four video encode engines
Four ProRes encode and decode engines
|Supported Macs||MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, 24-inch iMac||14-inch MacBook Pro, 16-inch MacBook Pro||14-inch MacBook Pro, 16-inch MacBook Pro||Mac Studio|
With this release, the Cupertino-based tech giant has finally made the transition from Intel chips for its entire Mac family — except the Mac Pro.
The company might hold another event for that soon, or announce something at Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June. But we’re praying to God that it doesn’t add another complicated moniker to its chip series. We’re ready for the M2 now, Apple.
All jokes aside, this is still better than Intel’s naming scheme. If you want to make sense of that, you have to take a two-year course and bring Patrick P. Gelsinger the heart of a jade monkey.
Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
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