Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max processors take its in-house Arm-based chips to new heights

Apple has announced its most powerful chips yet: the M1 Pro, and M1 Max. These are souped up versions of the M1 chip it introduced last fall and form the heart of its new MacBook Pro models.
Apple's first Arm-based, in-house chip for laptops, the original M1 chip, was unveiled less than a decade ago. It was included in Apple's refreshed MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and entry-level Mac Mini at launch.

The M1 chip was a good solution, but it wasn't able to replace Intel on Apples entry level hardware. Apple's high-end MacBook Pro and iMac models, meant for programmers, graphic designers and developers, were all notably sticking with Intels chips over the past year.

Apple's long-awaited solution to this problem is the M1 Pro and M1 Max. Both are made on the same 5nm process. Apple promises big improvements in performance.

Apple claims that the M1 Pro will offer 70 percent more CPU performance and twice as much graphics performance than the M1. The M1 Pro's basic architecture remains the same, but Apple has significantly improved the hardware. It now boasts a 10-core CPU with eight performance cores and two efficiencycores. A 16-core GPU offers 2,048 execution units.

With 200GB/s memory bandwidth, the new chip supports more RAM. The M1 Pro boasts 33.7 billion transistors in total, which is roughly double the amount of transistors as the M1.

Apple doesn't stop there. It also announced the M1 Max, a 10-core CPU configuration with eight performance cores as well as two efficiency cores. The M1 Max doubles memory bandwidth to 400GB/s and RAM to 64GB. It also has a GPU with 32 cores and 4,096 execution units. This makes it four times faster than the original M1. Apple's largest chip, the M1 Max, has 57 billion transistors. You can also connect up to four external displays on one device with the new chip.

The original M1 had a classic Arm mix consisting of eight CPU cores. Four performance cores were available for more challenging tasks, and four high-efficiency cores are available to extend battery life. The M1 could also have a seven-core CPU or an eight-core GPU depending on the model. It only had 8GB or 16GB RAM.

Apple also claimed that the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips provide up to 1.7x better CPU performance per Watt than the regular M1 chips and unspecified four and eight-core processor chips. However, Apple didn't give any hard numbers and did not identify the chips it was comparing to. This makes it difficult to know how the new chips will perform in real life.