Credits: Disclosure/Apple

After years using PowerPC processors e another considerable period in partnership with IntelApple began adopting a processor of its own design in 2020. The project Apple Siliconidentified by “M” line chips, is already in its fourth generation.

Manufactured by TSMCApple processors are currently in models of the brand’s notebooks and tablets in recent years, including variants such as iPad Air e MacBook Pro. They have more and more features and, with each evolution, they demonstrate more capacity and greater integration with the other components of the device.

The new iPad Pro. (Image source: Reproduction/Apple)

But what exactly was this performance growth curve like? Is the M2 a chip already considered outdated? Below, we have separated the main characteristics of the last three generations of Apple Silicon to prove them. This comparison only takes into account the base chip models, without considering Pro and Max updates.

New Apple M4

The M4 is Apple’s current most advanced chip. Announced in May 2024, it differentiates itself from previous generations by debuting on a new iPad line rather than Macs, meaning its full potential has yet to be reached.

In addition to having the highest performance yet, the M4 debuts a dedicated engine for the display. It even supports the latest dual-layer OLED technology, which debuted on the new iPad Pro.

The M4. (Image source: Disclosure/Apple)

This processor also has a support for H.264, HEVC, ProRes codecs and formats at hardware level — another addition that is a first for tablets. ProRes and ProRes RAW modes now support up to 8K resolution.

  • Transistors: 28 billion
  • Manufacturing architecture: 3nm 2nd generation
  • CPU: up to 10 cores (4 performance and 6 efficiency)
  • GPU: 10 cores
  • Motor neural: 16 cores (38 trillion operations per second)
  • Unified memory: up to 16 GB for now
  • Memory bandwidth: 120 GB/s

The neural engine has been significantly improved, as Apple intends to reveal its first artificial intelligence (AI) engines in 2024. The M4 also has the highest energy efficiency index compared to other processors from the brand.

Apple M3

Apple’s third generation of processors is the M3. It was not used on tablets and ended up restricted to MacBooks and iMac.

The company announced the components in October 2023, along with the more powerful Pro and Max variants. This model has considerable differences compared to previous chips.

The M3. (Image source: Disclosure/Apple)

A 3nm (nanometer) architecture It makes a big difference in performance, with even more miniaturized and optimized components.

  • Transistors: 25 billion
  • Manufacturing architecture: 3nm 1st generation
  • CPU: 8 cores (4 performance and 4 efficiency)
  • GPU: up to 10 cores
  • Motor neural: 16 cores (18 trillion operations per second)
  • Unified memory: up to 24GB
  • Memory bandwidth: 100 GB/s

This was also the first with new rendering features such as hardware-accelerated ray-tracing and Mesh Shadingin addition to technology Dynamic Caching na GPU. Popular video codecs are now supported, such as H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW, in addition to AV1 decoding.

Apple M2 Features

The Apple M2 was confirmed in 2022 by the company during Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that year — a year and a half after the first generation, a gap between generations that is currently much smaller.

The M2. (Image source: Disclosure/Apple)

In this model, the unified memory bandwidth doubled in relation to M1. Furthermore, the chip brought a new image processor (ISP) which improves noise reduction in photos.

  • Transistors: 20 billion
  • Manufacturing architecture: 5nm 2nd generation
  • CPU: 8 cores (4 performance and 4 efficiency)
  • GPU: 10 cores
  • Motor neural: 16 cores (15.8 trillion operations per second)
  • Unified memory: up to 24GB
  • Memory bandwidth: 100 GB/s

The processor has been used in a variety of Macs and iPads, as well as being used in the Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset.

Are the differences in Apple chips that significant?

The improvement in technical specifications, performance and support for more technologies is notable from one generation of Apple-designed processors for tablets and notebooks to the next.

The generational leap from the M3 chip to the M4 is relatively smaller, but the previous change (from M2 to M3) was quite considerable. This does not mean that the models from years ago with Apple Silicon are already outdated, but that Apple has achieved important developments in a very short period.

Image source: Reproduction/Apple

In practice and according to the first benchmarks, the M4 is 22% faster in single core and 25% in multi in relation to M3. Furthermore, he is 50% faster on CPU and four times faster on GPU that or M2.

Furthermore, the newest processor tends to have even greater performance in the Macs that will be presented from June 2024 onwards, and will also be better able to deal with the artificial intelligence (AI) features possibly announced at the same event.

Among the technical specifications, the GPU is the one with the smallest difference in general. However, changes in rendering technologies and compatibility with M4 codecs bring features previously restricted to the Mac to tablets.

The architectural change is also very relevant: the move from 5 nm to 3 nm generates improvements in performance and energy savings.

The improvements in aspects such as bandwidth and the number of operations supported by the neural engine are notable, but Not all of these features are observed in practice by all consumers. More specific technical details about the M4 should only be known when the models are properly tested and also appear in notebooks.

The new iPad Pro. (Image source: Disclosure/Apple)

The iPad Pro with the new processor and OLED screen is the brand’s current most powerful model. However, it is also the most expensive, so you need to consider whether it is worth switching to the most advanced member of the family for you.

For now, however, it is already possible to say that Apple continues to evolve rapidly and has already established itself as a company in the chip sector.

Do you have or have you ever used an Apple device with the company’s design chip? Did you feel any difference or performance? Do you think the company should really continue with its own processors? Leave your contribution in the comments!

Fontes: 9 to 5 Mac, Digital Trends, PC Mag, Apple


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