Like many people, I really want an Apple Silicon MacBook. I really want one. As I watched Apple's September event, I couldn't help but feel like we got a glimpse of the company's upcoming processors – and it only piqued my appetite even more.
The key here is the A14 bionic chip in the redesigned iPad Air. There have long been rumors that the first Apple Silicon Macs will use either this exact processor or a scaled-up variant of it. This is the first time an iPad and a Mac have used the same core engine. However, if you believe that the Mac is suffering from the use of a tablet processor, you can no longer be mistaken.
From what Apple showed us in the iPad Air, future Apple Silicon Macs will absolutely crush the competition. We already know that Apple's iPad chips are fantastic: when we compared the latest iPad Pro to its Android competitors, the iPad Pro was so far ahead that it was "not even scarce". Even if Apple were to plug the A12Z bionic chip from the iPad Pro 2020 into the first Apple Silicon Mac, the results would be impressive.
But Apple doesn't do that – it goes on. The A14 Bionic in the iPad Air is the first tablet processor in the industry to use a 5 nm process. This allows it to pack 11.8 billion transistors, each of which is so small that its size is measured in atoms.
But that's all abstract stuff – what about the real performance? According to Apple, the 6-core CPU in the A14 Bionic is 40% faster than the chip in the previous iPad Air. The graphics performance of the 4-core GPU is increased by 30%. That's a huge increase in a year, and it's exactly the kind of shot in the arm the Mac has been looking for.
Significantly, when Apple compared the performance of the iPad Air to the best-selling Windows laptop in the same price range, the iPad Air had twice the graphics performance. Mac gamers rejoice: the dream of 60 fps (frames per second) that so many have enjoyed for so long may finally become a reality.
Imagine all of this power in one Mac. AMD laptop chips have jumped to 7nm, while Intel only recently hit 10nm. On these Apple Silicon Macs, we would have a 5 nm chip that manages remarkable CPU and GPU performance while remaining incredibly power efficient. After all, the iPad Air doesn't need a fan, it's that efficient. While I don't expect Apple to get the fans out of the way on every MacBook, a processor that can perform without getting hotter than Vesuvius can run faster for longer, and that can only be good.
The most exciting thing is that Apple is just getting started. According to a report from Bloomberg, the first Apple silicon chips will have eight high-performance cores – four times as many as the A14 – and at least four high-performance cores. Even if Bloomberg is wrong and Apple chooses a more conservative chip for the first Apple Silicon Macs – for example the A14X – the fact that they are working on even more powerful chips is good news for Mac fans.
It doesn't take long to wait. Apple is slated to hold an event in October to showcase the iPhone 12 and the first Apple Silicon Macs. Based on what we saw on the iPad Air, this could be an absolute show stopper of an event.