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Apple M4 chip

Apple’s M4 brings more speed, more AI to devices

There’s a new piece of Apple Silicon on the way starting with the iPad, as Apple revs up its power, graphics, and AI to go in M4.

Ahead of Apple’s developer conference WWDC in June, Apple has unleashed a new chip, and it comes as a bit of a surprise.

The new chip, the M4, has been announced with a whole heap of power inside, not even a year after its predecessor was announced for the MacBook Pro line, and added this year to the MacBook Air and the 2024 M3 iMac.

And yet here we are with a brand new chip, so what’s new and exciting about Apple’s latest and greatest piece of silicon?

First up, there’s a new CPU inside it providing up to four performance cores and six efficiency cores. That split essentially means you get four performance cores if you opt for the more expensive device, and three if you don’t, while the six efficiency remains consistent, likely handling system performance and battery life.

There are also improvements to the graphics side of things, with a 10-core GPU regardless of what gadget you get, boasting some new memory improvements to improve how the graphics chip performs.

Apple is also adding hardware-accelerated ray tracing, a first for the iPad, adding realistic shading and reflections, as well as mesh shading, making games experiences better, and even helping workstation apps such as Octane along.

Apple's M4 chip explained
All of these features are found in the one chip in handy section diagrams, so we’ve collapsed them down to one image to make it easier to read.

One of the biggest improvements is over on the neural side of things, and given how much attention AI is getting this year, that’s hardly a surprise.

In the M4, Apple has a rich Neural Engine able to process up to 38 trillion operations per second, a result that is 60 times faster than the Neural Engine that first appeared in the iPhone X and iPhone 8 back in 2017. My, how times have changed.

As for what you an use the M4 neural capabilities for, Apple has updates coming for Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro that’ll cover some of that, and we expect more will be unveiled later in the year at WWDC.

It’s also possible we’ll see more devices with the Apple M4 when June rolls around, largely because the M4 is only available in the new iPad Pro being announced this week. That chip will cover both the 11 inch and 13 inch iPad Pro models, but just them.

As it is, the fastest Macs around range between the M3 Max MacBook Pro and M2 Ultra Mac Pro models, both of which could see updates later this year, given the announcement of the M4.

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