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Macs are undergoing a big change. Apple is switching its internal architecture from one that uses Intel CPUs, third-party graphics processors, and other parts, to the company’s own “system on a chip.” The first Apple silicon SoC for Macs is called the M1.
It’s a big step for Apple and the Mac. But what does it mean for you? In this article, we cover what Apple’s system on a chip means to the user, how it affects what software you can use, and answer other frequently asked questions. We will update this whenever there are new developments.
“Apple silicon” refers to the chips Apple makes. In the Mac, they replace the Intel processors they have used for the past 14 years, and will eventually also replace the AMD graphics processors in higher-end Macs. Apple silicon first made its appearance in the original iPad.
Apple calls this a system on a chip (SoC) because it takes several components that are usually separate and puts them all on a single chip. This includes the CPU, graphics processor, USB and Thunderbolt controllers, Secure Enclave, Neural Engine, image signal processor, audio processing hardware, and more. This results in better performance and battery life. Read all about Apple’s claims about the M1’s performance and battery efficiency.
Apple decided to initially release its own silicon in its more affordable Macs that are popular with general consumers. These Macs are:
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