We have seen Apple make an impressive entry to the laptop and SFF processor market with the new Apple M1 chip. To recap, the M1 is an SoC which wields a 4+4 (performance+efficiency) Arm architecture CPU, 7 or 8 GPU cores, a 16 core Neural Engine, with a unified memory architecture (8GB or 16GB on board), as well as other important components - in a 5nm chip with 16 billion transistors. Early tests have shown it is a punchy performer with plenty of potential going forward as Apple developers make more apps native, and it has had a very positive impact on laptop battery life.
Apple M1 processor
A few hours ago Bloomberg published and updated a story about Apple Silicon things to come. Insiders working at the iconic Cupertino tech giant have been talking to Bloomberg anonymously but the news is pretty big and as evidence of this Intel's share price has fallen nearly 3 per cent on this news, while Apple's is up.
Bloomberg's sources have some pretty big claims for the upcoming Mac processors. In brief it says that "if Apple’s processors live up to expectations, they will significantly outpace the performance of the latest machines running Intel chips". Moving on to actual plans, the insiders say that Apple will introduce its next set of chips as early as Spring 2021, with more set for product releases in the Autumn. The latest beefed up Apple Silicon will appear across the Mac range, from upgraded versions of the MacBook Pro, both entry-level and high-end iMac desktops, and later a new Mac Pro workstation, according to the sources.
Core counts get serious
As mentioned in the intro, the current Apple M1 has 4+4 cores but the next gen chip targeting MacBook Pro and iMac models will become available in up to 16+4 configurations. Apple would be able to make lower tier versions of this chip with fewer cores activated, to make the most of the yields it receives from TSMC. Later in 2021 Apple is expected to have a 32+X processor ready for higher-end desktops and a new half-sized Mac Pro.
Apple GPU ambitions
In a similar timescale as mentioned above for the CPU developments of 2021, Apple is testing 16-core and 32-core graphics parts for the coming high-end laptops and mid-range desktops. Remember, the Apple M1 sports 7 or 8 GPU cores depending on the system you buy.
Moving on to later in 2021 or perhaps into 2022, Apple will consider rolling out graphics upgrades with 64 or 128 cores. According to the Bloomberg insiders the resulting systems will have graphics "several times faster" than the current options allow using Nvidia or AMD add-in cards.
Apple's ambition seems impressive and it will be interesting to see the new processors and systems when they arrive in 2021/2.