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15 years after embracing Intel processors, Macs are ready for another transition.
Apple will begin selling computers equipped with its own processors, known as Apple Silicon, starting next week.
The first models will be new versions of the MacBook Air, Mac mini and MacBook Pro, but next year other desktop models will also be added, such as the iMac.
The change opens a new era in the world of computing.
Until now, most PCs and all Macs were manufactured with processors from Intel or AMD.
They all use a similar architecture, known as X86 and developed by Intel.
The new Apple Silicons, however, will use the same architecture that we are used to seeing in phones and tablets, known as ARM.
Thanks to this architecture, more efficient equipment can be manufactured, with lower consumption and more powerful, in part thanks to the leaps that Apple itself has made in the design of the iPhone and iPad chips.
The A14 processor used by the latest iPhone 12 and iPad Air (and the design behind Apple's newer processors) is faster in single-core computing tasks than virtually all Intel processors than today they use Macs, and consume much less.
Apple is not the only company taking steps in this direction.
In the last two years, several PC manufacturers have also tried to launch laptops equipped with ARM processors, generally Snapdragon models designed for mobile phones.
Microsoft also has a version of Windows that supports this architecture.
But these computers have generally received bad reviews for their poor performance and limited number of supported applications.
Apple is the first major computer manufacturer to bet everything on this new architecture -although technically it came to launch in the 90s a version of the Newton with an ARM processor that could be considered a laptop- and that can integrate it offering more power than the ones have. Intel processors.
The first Apple Silicon processor will be the M1, a chip with eight process cores (four high-power and four low-power), up to 8 graphics cores and shared memory.
By having control of the design, Apple has been able to integrate into this chip, also components that in other computers must be separated, such as a coprocessor for machine learning tasks (nowadays used in a wide variety of professional tools) or computer systems. encryption.
The M1 will be present in three Mac models that can be reserved from today and that will go on sale next week.
Apple will continue to sell models with an Intel processor.
The first Mac to feature the new processor is the MacBook Air.
The new version will have the same design as the current model, but it does not need internal fans.
Still, it is capable of offering 3.5 times more computing power than the current Intel-based MacBook Air and 5x greater graphics power.
Given the better efficiency of the M1, its autonomy has also grown considerably, reaching up to 18 hours of continuous video playback.
The MacBook Air will also have support for USB 4 and faster SSDs than in the current generation.
Apple also promises that the webcam will be able to deliver better image quality thanks to various machine learning routines that will correct color and eliminate image noise when recording in low light environments.
The price of the new Air will be the same as it had until now, starting at 1,129 euros with 256 Gb of disk.
The only desktop computer to have M1 this year will be the Mac Mini.
The new processor will be 3 times faster than the Intel that until now used this machine and 6 times more powerful in the graphics section.
This machine will include an internal fan, but Apple ensures that it will be practically silent and will not get hot.
It will also be somewhat cheaper than the current model with an Intel processor, starting at 799 euros for the model with 256 GB of SSD and 8 GB of RAM.
MacBook Pro 13 ''
Lastly, Apple will release a new version of its smaller MacBook Pro, the 13-inch model.
Like the Mini it will have an internal ventilation system, but also very quiet, according to the company.
Compared with the current version of the same computer, with an Intel processor, the new MacBook Pro will be 2.8 times more powerful when it comes to calculating and 5 times more powerful in graphics, allowing you to edit high-quality video in 8K resolution without losing any
Apple ensures that the new MacBook Pro will also have an autonomy of up to 20 hours of use (in video playback) and better image quality on the webcam thanks to the neural processor dedicated to machine learning tasks, which is up to 11 times faster than those that Intel now includes in its chips.
The new MacBook Pro 13 will be available at the same price as the version with Intel until now, 1,449 euros.
One of the problems that the change in architecture brings is the support of apps designed for Macs.
In order to function natively, they must be adapted to the new architecture.
This adaptation is not complex but requires some work on the part of the developers.
Apple has made a development kit available to many of them since last June.
Some will have apps available from day one.
Adobe, for example, will release a supported version of Lightroom next month and a version of Photoshop early next year.
Applications that are not adapted will be able to run with a virtualization layer that will detract some performance, but that Apple says will be comparable in experience to the current generation of Intel processors.
Finally, the arrival of the M1 will also open the door to millions of apps designed for iPhone and iPad that can now run natively on Macs. Developers will be able to operate by deactivating this function in their apps if they do not want to be present, but many iOs games, for example, can be played on the Mac from day one.
Big Sur this Thursday
The new Macs will also use the new version of the MacOS operating system, dubbed Big Sur, which was announced during the last WWDC developer conference, held last June.
Big Sur includes some graphical changes and improvements to the graphical interface, with a revamped notification center and a new version of the Safari browser with better extension support and automatic web page translator.
Apple has also significantly improved the messages application, adding many of the options and improvements that until now were only available in the iOS version.
Big Sur will be available as an update for older generation Macs starting this Thursday.
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