Apple Silicon

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.

Updated February 5, 2022 by Per C.

quizTest Your Knowledge

WDDM is a Windows driver architecture for what component?

Correct! Incorrect!     View the WDDM definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of Apple Silicon on this page is an original definition written by the team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.