Apple silicon is a series of Mac processors developed by Apple. For several decades, Apple built Macintosh computers with CPUs from third-party manufacturers, including Motorola, IBM, and Intel. On June 22, 2020, Apple announced it would be transitioning its Mac lineup to "Apple silicon," a proprietary processor technology.
Similar to Apple-developed processors found in iPhones and iPads, Apple silicon processors use a System on a Chip (SoC) architecture. The SoC design includes a CPU, GPU, and several application-specific processors. Examples of additional processors include:
- A media engine for media playback
- A neural engine for machine learning applications
- Efficiency cores for low-power computing
Most processors within an Apple silicon SoC are multi-core, meaning they have multiple processing cores. The M1, Apple's first "Apple silicon" chip, was released in November 2020 with the MacBook Air and Mac mini. It has 4 performance cores (primary CPU processors), 4 efficiency cores, 8 GPU cores, and a 16-core neural engine.
The M1 Pro, released in October 2021 with the MacBook Pro, has 8 performance cores, 2 efficiency cores, 16 GPU cores, and a 16-core neural engine. The M1 Max, released alongside the M1 Pro, has 8 performance cores (primary CPU processors), 2 efficiency cores, 32 GPU cores, and a 16-core neural engine. Future Apple silicon chips are expected to have even more processing cores.