|Launched||November 10, 2020|
|Designed by||Apple Inc.|
|Max. CPU clock rate||3.2 GHz|
|L1 cache||192+128 KB per core (performance cores)|
128+64 KB per core (efficient cores)
|L2 cache||12 MB (performance cores)|
4 MB (efficient cores)
|Architecture and classification|
|Application||Desktop (Mac Mini, iMac), Notebook (MacBook family), Tablet (iPad Pro)|
|Min. feature size||5 nm|
|Microarchitecture||"Firestorm" and "Icestorm"|
|GPU(s)||Apple-designed integrated graphics (up to 8 cores)|
|Predecessor||Intel Core and Apple T2 chip (Mac) |
Apple A12Z Bionic (iPad Pro)
|Mac transition to|
The Apple M1 is an ARM-based system on a chip (SoC). It was designed by Apple Inc. as a central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU) for its Macintosh computers and iPad Pro tablets. It also marks the first major change to the instruction set used by Macintosh computers since Apple transitioned Macs from PowerPC to Intel in 2006. Apple claims that it has the world's fastest CPU core "in low power silicon" and the world's best CPU performance per watt.
The M1 has four high-performance 'Firestorm' and four energy-efficient 'Icestorm' cores, providing a hybrid configuration similar to ARM DynamIQ and Intel's Lakefield and Alder Lake processors. This combination allows power-use optimizations not possible with previous Apple–Intel architecture devices. Apple claims the energy-efficient cores use one-tenth the power of the high-performance ones. The high-performance cores have an unusually large, 192 KB of L1 instruction cache and 128 KB of L1 data cache and share a 12 MB L2 cache; the energy-efficient cores however, only have a 128 KB L1 instruction cache, 64 KB L1 data cache, and a shared 4 MB L2 cache.
The M1 integrates an Apple-designed eight-core (seven in some base models) graphics processing unit (GPU). Each GPU core is split into 16 Execution Units, which each contain 8 Arithmetic Logic Units (ALUs). In total, the M1 GPU contains up to 128 Execution units or 1024 ALUs, which by Apple's claim can execute up to 24,576 threads simultaneously and have a maximum floating point (FP32) performance of 2.6 TFLOPs.
The M1 uses 4266 MT/s LPDDR4X SDRAM in a unified memory configuration shared by all the components of the processor. The SoC and RAM chips are mounted together in a system-in-a-package design. 8 GB and 16 GB configurations are available.
The M1 contains dedicated neural network hardware in a 16-core Neural Engine, capable of executing 11 trillion operations per second. Other components include an image signal processor (ISP), an NVMe storage controller, Thunderbolt 4 controllers, and a Secure Enclave.
Performance and efficiency
The 2020 M1-equipped Mac mini draws 7 watts when idle and 39 watts at maximum load, compared with 20 watts idle and 122 watts maximum load for the 2018, 6-core Intel i7 Mac mini. The energy efficiency of the M1 doubles the battery life of M1-based MacBooks from the previous Intel-based MacBooks.
The announcement of MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) dropped the resale value of Intel MacBooks sharply.
Products that use the Apple M1
- MacBook Air (M1, 2020) - base model has 7-core GPU
- Mac Mini (M1, 2020)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020)
- iMac (24-inch, M1, 2021) - base model has 7-core GPU
- iPad Pro, 11-inch (5th generation)
- iPad Pro, 12.9-inch (5th generation)
USB power delivery bricking
After its release, some users who charged M1 devices through USB-C hubs reported bricking their device. The devices that are reported to cause this issue were third party USB-C hubs and non-Thunderbolt docks (excluding Apple's own dongle). Apple handled this issue by replacing the logic board and by telling its customers to not charge through those hubs. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 includes a fix to prevent 2019 or later MacBook Pro models and 2020 or later MacBook Air models from being damaged by certain third-party USB-C hubs and docks.
The M1 chip has errata given the name "M1RACLES". Two sandboxed applications can exchange data without the system's knowledge by using an unintentionally writable processor register as a covert channel, violating the security model and constituting a minor vulnerability. It was discovered by Héctor Martín Cantero.
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