Redesigned M1 Pro and M1 Max Macs nearly complete transition to Apple Silicon, ending reliance on Intel chips

The news: Apple unveiled a fall bounty of products during its “Apple Unleashed” live-streamed event yesterday. Focusing on its pro-level segment, Apple announced 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros running on new Apple M1 Pro and Apple M1 Max processors.

Why it’s worth watching: Apple ushering in new pro-level processors and laptops just one year after launching its Apple Silicon processors shows how quickly it can iterate on its product lines.

Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max processors are 70x faster in CPU performance than the original Apple M1 processor unveiled last year. 

  • Back in June 2020, when it introduced the M1 processor, Apple said it would undergo a two-year transition from Intel processors to its own Apple Silicon. As of yesterday’s announcement, the Mac Pro desktop is the only product in the lineup left running on Intel’s processors.
  • The new M1 Pro and Max systems-on-a-chip equal the same peak performance as the best PC CPUs, but require 70% less power consumption and cooling, per Apple.
  • The new laptops also feature redesigned form factors with higher-resolution displays, a re-introduction of the MagSafe adapter, HDMI, Thunderbolt 4, and audio jack ports. Apple discarded the TouchBar feature, which was a stopgap to mitigate the lack of a touchscreen on Mac OS.

What this means for Apple: Close to completing its transition from Intel to Apple Silicon, Apple is now offering its processors within its more premium and pro-focused hardware, which are standard tools in many graphic design, media, animation, video and film production companies.

The new high-performance hardware could accelerate the transition away from Intel-powered Macs and spur other PC makers to develop their own chip architectures to remain competitive.

What this means for Intel: The chip giant is pivoting toward providing foundry services for other companies as well as supplying less-complex chips for the auto industry.

Intel CEO Pat Geslinger indicated in an interview with Axios that he hasn’t given up on Apple: “I would hope to win back this piece of their business,” he said, adding, “so what I have to do is create a better chip than they can do themselves."

Trendspotting: Apple has led the industry in transitioning away from Intel processors, mostly because of Intel’s delays in providing faster, more efficient, and smaller nanometer chips. 

  • Some PC vendors like Lenovo and HP are increasingly offering AMD processors as options.
  • Google and Microsoft have also developed their own processors to use in smartphones, tablets, and IoT devices. 

The big takeaway: Focusing on premium, pro-level laptops and processors heading into the traditionally most profitable last quarter can help Apple offset expected losses resulting from cutting iPhone 13 production by 10 million units

  • Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max processors have also put Intel and other chip makers on notice. Power-efficient yet powerful processors clearly have an advantage over more traditional power-hungry chips, especially in the popular thin and light notebook form factor.