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Apple Apple Silicon Mac

Apple’s “One more thing” event Recap

Today Apple held their “One more thing” event. This is the third event in the last two months and as expected, this event focused strictly on Macs, specifically their Apple Silicon Macs. There was also a brief mention about the operating system needed to run the Macs, macOS Big Sur. Let us start with a brief look at macOS Big Sur.

macOS Big Sur

Back at their World Wide Developer Conference in June, Apple unveiled the next version of macOS named Big Sur. macOS Big Sur features an all new design that is heavily inspired by iOS and shares many of the same features as iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. The big feature with macOS Big Sur is that it includes the ability to run iOS apps and iPadOS apps natively, but only on Macs running Apple Silicon. Because this was such a monumental shift, the version number of the operating system changed from what would have been 10.16 to 11.0.

In today’s stream they provided a release date for macOS Big Sur, and that day is this Thursday, November 12th, 2020. There is still time to pre-order my e-book, macOS Big Sur for Users, Administrators, and Developers from Apple or Amazon for $3.99 each.

Apple Silicon Macs

Today Apple unveiled not one, but three Macs running Apple Silicon. Before Apple introduced these though, they talked about the chip that powers these Macs, the M1.

M1

Apple has been designing their own custom silicon for over a decade with the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. They have brought this knowledge and experience to the Mac with the M1 chip. The M1 will power the first-generation of Macs running Apple Silicon.

The M1 has an 8-core CPU with four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. According to Apple the CPU will have up to 3.5x faster performance than previous Macs. The high-performance cores will only be used when when they are needed. For instance, if you are editing video or doing any computational intensive tasks.

However, if you are doing some less intensive tasks, like editing a note or reading email, the more power-efficient cords will be used instead. This efficiency will allow even longer battery life, because the power-efficient cores can be utilized instead of the high-performance cores.

A CPU is great at some tasks, but one area where it not the best is when it comes to graphics. For those tasks, there is the 8-core graphics processing unit.

Many of the features found in Apple’s other devices will now be present in the M1, like the 16-core Neural Engine. This will let machine learning tasks scream more than ever.

What is needed to make all of this work together is some memory. The memory architecture of the M1 is unified. This means that the CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine can all access the same memory areas, which makes transferring data between the different processors. This unified memory architecture is what is used throughout Apple’s other devices.

Now that we have covered the M1 chip, let us look at the three Macs that Apple released. These are the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. Let us look at each of these starting with the MacBook Air.

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is Apple’s thin and lightweight laptop that is great for a majority of users and is great for everyday tasks. This is also the best-selling laptop that Apple sells. This is likely due to its starting price. On the topic of price, the MacBook Air has a new starting price of $999. There is another configuration that starts at $1249. Both of these models have

  • Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU and 16‑core Neural Engine
  • 8GB unified memory
  • Retina display with True Tone
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Touch ID
  • Force Touch trackpad
  • Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports
  • Wi-Fi 6

The difference between the two models is with the GPUs and base storage size. The $999 model only has 256GB of storage included and a 7-core GPU. The one few core is done in order to keep down the cost. Meanwhile, the $1249 configuration does come with an 8-Core GPU and starts off with 512GB of storage. Both models can be configured with 16GB of memory, a 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB storage options.

The MacBook Air also now supports the P3 Wide Color that has been present on iOS and iPadOS devices for a number of years now. P3 Color allows better representations of colors when looking at photos and videos.

One of the more noticeable changes with the MacBook Air that comes as a benefit of the M1 is more battery life. According to Apple you can get up to 15 hours of browsing the web and 18 hours of video playback. This is an improvement six hours of video playback, as compared to the previous MacBook Air. Here are some improvements that Apple states you will get with the MacBook Air:

  • Export a project for the web with iMovie up to 3x faster. 
  • Integrate 3D effects into video in Final Cut Pro up to 5x faster. 
  • For the first time, play back and edit multiple streams of full-quality, 4K ProRes video in Final Cut Pro without dropping a frame.
  • Export photos from Lightroom up to twice as fast.
  • Use ML-based features like Smart Conform in Final Cut Pro to intelligently frame a clip up to 4.3x faster.
  • Watch more movies and TV shows with up to 18 hours of battery life, the longest ever on MacBook Air.
  • Extend FaceTime and other video calls for up to twice as long on a single charge.

The MacBook Air comes in the same three colors, Silver, Space Gray, and Rose Gold and are available to order today and arrive next week. Next, let us look at the other 13-inch laptop, the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

MacBook Pro

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is a popular model of Mac used by many creatives. The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at the same $1299 price. For that price you get the following:

  • Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine
  • 8GB unified memory
  • 256GB SSD storage
  • 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Force Touch trackpad
  • Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports
  • Wi-Fi 6

Just like the MacBook Air you can upgrade the memory to 16GB, the storage to 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB. To go with all of this the 13-inch MacBook Pro

Apple is touting just how fast these machines are with these improvements:

  • Build code in Xcode up to 2.8x faster.
  • Render a complex 3D title in Final Cut Pro up to 5.9x faster. 
  • Fluidly design intricate game scenes in Unity Editor up to 3.5x faster. 
  • Perform ML tasks in Create ML up to 11x faster.
  • Separate out beats, instrumentals, and vocal tracks from a recording in real time in djay Pro AI, thanks to the amazing performance of the Neural Engine. 
  • Play back full-quality, 8K ProRes video in DaVinci Resolve without dropping a single frame. 
  • Compile four times as much code on a single charge, thanks to the game-changing performance per watt of the M1 chip.

The Thunderbolt and USB 4 ports do provide the ability to run the Apple Pro Display XDR at its native 6K resolution, should you find yourself in that situation.

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro is available to order today and begins arriving next week.

Mac mini

The last Mac to discuss is the first desktop to get Apple Silicon, the Mac mini. the Mac mini is a very versatile machine that is used in a variety of situations. These can range from a simple home computer, to a server, to a portable rendering station. The Mac mini now also comes with the M1 and a new price point. The Mac mini now starts at $699, which is $100 less than before. For that $699 price you get the following:

  • Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine
  • 8GB unified memory
  • 256GB SSD storage
  • Gigabit Ethernet

You can customize the Mac mini with 16GB of memory, or you can upgrade the storage to 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB options. One of the reasons that people opt for a Mac mini is the variety of ports. The Apple Silicon Mac mini includes Thunderbolt/USB-C 4 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, 2 USB-A ports, a gigabit ethernet port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

There are a couple of other changes with the new Mac mini. The first is that it is no longer space gray, instead it is back to being silver. While this is cometic, it may be a deterrent for some users. The second change is that there are some ports that are no longer on the new M1 Mac mini. The number of USB-C ports is half of what the Intel-based Mac minis had; the previous model had four. While for most this may not be a problem, is can be problematic for some users. The other port that has changed is the 10-gigabit ethernet option. That is not available on the Apple Silicon Mac minis. It is likely that the choice for the 10-gigabit ethernet was a very niche option, it is something to note.

Apple is also providing some statistics for the improvements for the Mac mini over the previous generation. These include:

  • Compile code in Xcode up to 3x faster. 
  • Play a graphics-intensive game like “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” with up to 4x higher frame rates. 
  • Render a complex timeline in Final Cut Pro up to 6x faster. 
  • Take music production to new levels by using up to 3x as many real-time plug-ins in Logic Pro.
  • Magically increase the resolution of a photo in Pixelmator Pro up to 15x faster. 
  • Utilize ML frameworks like TensorFlow or Create ML, now accelerated by the M1 chip.

The new price point for the Mac mini will make it very attractive for some users. However, the lack of 32GB or 64GB options may be a major factor for some users.

Closing Thoughts

Today’s event was quite short, 45 minute in total. Even though it was a shorter event, it was entirely focused on the Mac and Big Sur. macOS Big Sur will be available as a free update starting this Thursday.

While many expected a MacBook Air, the inclusion of a 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac mini to all be introduced at the same time shows that Apple is well on its way with Apple Silicon.

Macs with Apple Silicon are new and not everybody will want to, or will be able to use the new devices. Therefore, Apple is still selling Intel-based Macs for two of the Macs released today; the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac mini. It is not known how long this will go on, but it is possible to still get an Intel-based Mac for each of these models. The MacBook Air is only available using the M1 chip.

The three new Macs are available to order today and will begin shipping next week. Customized models may take longer, depending on the choice of options.

Sources: Apple

Categories
Apple Apple Silicon Mac

Apple Announces “One more thing” Event

Today Apple announced an event titled “One more thing”. This is slated for November 10th, 2020 at 10:00 am Pacific Time. This event will follow the same format as previous events this year and be live streamed. It is expected that this will be the event where Apple unveils the first Apple Silicon Macs, but there may be more.

As is the case with other events, I will have my predictions for what we will see, a recap of what was announced, and well as a predictions results post.