Apple Inc on Monday took the most aggressive step yet to strip Intel Corp chips from its computers, announcing more powerful homegrown Mac processors alongside a total revamp of its MacBook Pro laptop computers.
The company showcased the chips at an event called “Unleashed,” which also included its latest audio products.
The new components, called the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, are 70 percent faster than its M1 predecessors, Apple said.
Photo: AFP / Handout / Apple Inc
It also unveiled a redesigned MacBook Pro, adding larger screens, MagSafe charging and better resolution.
With the new processors and devices, Apple is aiming squarely at the high-end chips that Intel has provided for the MacBook Pro and other top-end Macs for about 15 years. Last year, Apple started transitioning its low-end Macs to its own M1 Apple Silicon chip.
However, the new chips are a bolder stroke, aiming at far outclassing Intel’s highest-performing products.
Photo: AFP / Brooks Kraft / Apple Inc
The chips include 10-core central processing units, up from the eight in the M1 chip. The 10 cores are split into eight high-performance cores and two cores for tasks that require less energy, compared with four high-performance and four low-performance cores in the M1.
Apple has also improved the graphics performance for the M1 Pro and M1 Max, which come with 16 and 32-core graphics chips respectively, up from the seven or eight-core options offered with the M1 Macs.
Graphics performance with the M1 Max is as much as four times faster than on the earlier M1 chip, while the M1 Pro is twice as fast, Apple said, adding that it is also 13 times faster than earlier Intel models.
The M1 Pro supports 32GB of memory, while the M1 Max has up to 64GB, up from 8GB or 16GB offered with the M1.
The new chips are at the center of the most significant update to the MacBook Pro since 2016. The new model comes in 14.2-inch and 16.2-inch screen sizes, and — like the latest iPad Pro — the displays use miniLED panels. That technology allows for improved color reproduction.
The screens also have 24 percent thinner borders on the side and a 60 percent thinner border at the top, thanks to a new display cutout. That feature, also called a “notch,” makes the display look more like the one on an iPhone.
The new models have an updated, boxier look and lack the controversial Touch Bar, the touch-screen strip introduced with the 2016 redesign. Apple replaced the Touch Bar with a new circular fingerprint scanner and larger physical function keys.
Apple has also restored three ports that users missed after they were removed five years ago: the HDMI port, an SD card slot and MagSafe charging.
The displays also include ProMotion, a feature that allows the screen refresh rate to reach higher levels for a smoother overall experience. Apple added a similar feature to the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, which became available last month.
The company has added a 1080 progressive-scan video-chat camera, improving a component that users of earlier MacBook Pros have found subpar.
One challenge that Apple might face with its new MacBook Pro is the ongoing chip shortage and supply-chain slowdown sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new computer went on sale on Monday and is due to hit stores next week, starting at US$1,999 for the 14-inch model and US$2,499 for the 16-inch model, but shipment delays have hampered other recent launches.
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