Since its launch on November 10, Apple’s M1 processor has been put to the test to confirm the power that Apple boasted about so much, leaving the company very well.
However, the curiosity about what makes the processor really so powerful continues to grow. Thus, the developer Erik Engheim shares in a post, his immersion in the M1 chip, exploring the reasons why Apple’s new processor is much faster than the Intel chips it replaces.
Specialized chips for specialized tasks
As Apple described it, the processor M1 is a System-on-a-Chip, which is a series of chips that all sit together in a silicon package, while Intel and AMD also ship multiple microprocessors in a single package.
For Engheim, this new architecture does this instead of focusing on general-purpose processor cores like its competitors, because Apple focuses on specialized chips that handle specialized tasks.
In particular, there is also a new unified memory architecture that allows CPU, GPU and other cores exchange information with each other, and with unified memory, the CPU and GPU can access the memory simultaneously instead of copying data from one zone to another, thus speeding up the exchange of information for faster overall performance.
“This is part of the reason why many people who work on editing videos and images with the Mac M1 see speed improvements. Most of the tasks they perform can be done directly on specialized hardware. This is what allows a cheap Mac Mini M1 to encode a large video file, without breaking a sweat, while an expensive iMac has all of its fans at full blast and still can’t keep up. “
As Engheim describes, special chips have been around for years, but Apple is making a “more dramatic shift in this direction.” In addition to the benefits of an in-house designed system on a chip, Apple also uses Firestorm processor cores in the M1 which are “very fast” and capable of executing more instructions in parallel through out-of-order execution.