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Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max processors pose new challenges for Intel.


Apple said a year ago that it would take on Intel’s most efficient chips by releasing lightweight MacBook powered by M1, a homegrown processor. On Monday, Apple added to its challenge by releasing MacBook Pro notebooks based on the new M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, which compete with Intel’s beefier chips.

The new MacBook Pros are a positive sign for Apple’s efforts to tighten control over its goods. They’re also bad news for Intel, whose CPUs are being phased out of Apple’s Macs after a 15-year relationship. It’s a loss of revenue, prestige, and orders for the company to maintain its factories operating at full capacity.

“Intel has completely lost the Mac and is unlikely to regain it any time soon,” – New Street Research analyst Pierre Ferragu said in a research note Tuesday.

Apple was prompted by Intel’s problems to create its own semiconductor expertise and computer technologies. (It already created its own A-series CPUs for the iPhone and iPad, and the M-series chips benefit from that.) Last year’s MacBook Air and low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro included Apple’s M1 CPUs, demonstrating the company’s desire to take control of its own destiny.

The M1 Pro and M1 Max demonstrate the company’s growing capabilities as a chip designer. Both are intended for more capable models, the 14-inch and 16-inch Pros, aimed for video editors, programmers, and others with high computing demands. The heaviness of the chips, which each have eight performance and two efficiency cores compared to the M1’s four-by-four arrangement, is intended to withstand intense workloads. They also have far more powerful graphics processing capability and memory, with up to 16GB for the M1 Pro and 64GB for the M1 Max.

Intel’s troubles

Intel, which has dominated the world in chip technology for decades, has suffered for the last half-decade as an upgrade to its manufacturing equipment took longer than the typical two years. The issue arose when the company attempted to transition from a 14-nanometer manufacturing method to the next “node” of advancement, 10nm. (One nanometer is one billionth of a meter.)

The result is the M1 Pro and M1 Max, which are 1.7 times faster than Intel’s existing eight-core Tiger Lake chips, formally known as 11th generation Core, according to Apple’s testing. In comparison, at the same level of performance, the M1 Pro and Max utilize 70% less power than Tiger Lake CPUs.
To be sure, the loss of Apple’s revenue will have little impact on Intel. There is plenty of other work for the corporation. The great majority of Windows PCs still use Intel and AMD x86 processors. Customers that switch from Windows to MacOS or vice versa are few.

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