April 19, 2021


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The New 13-inch MacBook Pro Kicks off Apple’s Next Decade with the M1 Chip

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In 1994, Apple used the PowerPC processor in several computer products. This marks the beginning of more than 10 years of close cooperation between Apple and IBM.

In 2005, Steve Jobs announced at WWDC that Apple would form a partnership with Intel.

In 2006, Apple released its first MacBook Pro to replace its PowerBook G4 line, and the MacBook Pro was also the first apple product to use Intel processors.

In 2020, Apple announced at WWDC that it will launch a self-developed chip based on Arm architecture, and it will launch the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini with M1 chip at the event on 11th Nov.

Now, in front of us is the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with the Apple M1 chip that will kick-start Apple’s next decade.

From 2005 to 2020, from “complex instruction set” to “reduced instruction set”

There is no doubt the M1 chip, based on Arm architecture, is the most attractive part of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro. After going around for a while, the core of Apple’s computer product line has also returned from the “complex instruction set” to the “compact instruction set”, and Apple seems to have regained the “original intentions”.

Apple’s original PowerPC architecture was a Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) architecture. The basic idea of RISC technology was to reduce the complexity of hardware design and increase the speed of Instruction execution by streamlining the machine Instruction system. However, due to the slow iteration of IBM technology at that time, the processor performance was insufficient and the power consumption was huge. The G4 chip also reached the performance bottleneck. The slow bus speed and small cache made the PowerBook more and more slow and the power consumption increased continuously. “We moved to the Intel platform primarily to continue to offer our users the best products,” Jobs said. “We didn’t know how to build these around the PowerPC architecture.” A combination of factors led Apple to “switch” to Intel”.

Moving from PowerPC to Intel’s x86 architecture was the only option for Apple, and only Intel could help build a high-performance, low-power architecture for Apple. Intel’s x86 architecture uses a complex instruction set (CISC). In CISC, the instructions of the program are executed sequentially and the operations in each instruction are sequentially executed sequentially. The advantage of sequential execution is simple control, but it will have the disadvantages of low utilization rate of each part of the computer and slow execution speed, which will also pave the way for the future split between Apple and Intel.

Apple has always had a strong desire to control its core technologies and business efficiency, and it has always taken a long view in its technology investments. As Apple CEO Tim Cook once said, “All of our decisions are long-term, in 2023 and beyond, looking at the long term rather than the short term.” This has been evident in many of Apple’s previous product releases.

At the software level, iOS, as a mobile operating system developed by Apple, is based on Darwin, just like Apple’s Mac OS X operating system. Darwin is the core operating system of OS X, the part that directly manages the hardware, and is a UNIX-like commercial operating system. The original iPhone OS, one of the few UniX-like systems running on Arm at the time, could even be seen as a streamlined and redesigned OS X system.

On the hardware side, Apple acquired chip designer P.A. Semi in 2008 and released arm-based A-series chips for the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch in 2010. The success of the iPhone and iPad in recent years has provided Apple with inestimable confidence and technological reserves, and laid a solid foundation for the launch of the M1 chip.

Today, Apple offers arm-based M1 chips and macOS Big Sur for M1 cores. So far, most of Apple’s computing devices are running on the same framework, and Apple has also fully integrated the ecology of Mac, iPhone and iPad. Now, not only can you run professional office software on the M1-powered MacBook Pro, but you can also run mobile apps, whether it’s the Mac, iPhone or iPad.

It takes time to wait for M1 but M1 performance is excellent

On September 25, 2014, Intel officially released the first Core M series processor that adopts the brand-new 14nm process and the second-generation 3D transistor technology. It did not officially release the mobile platform product with the 10nm process until 2019. For more than five years, Intel has been continuously polishing the 14nm process, while its rival AMD has evolved to 7nm process. Intel’s slow progress in the 14nm to 10nm process, coupled with minor performance fixes, not only earned it the title of “super slow factory”, but also slowed down Apple’s replacement rate. This time, apple chose to take the road of its own development, and the performance is amazing.

The M1 core uses a 5-nm process that encapsulates 16 billion transistors and integrates the CENTRAL processor, graphics processor, neural network engine, various connectivity functions, and many other components into a single chip. The CPU is composed of four high-performance cores and four energy-efficient cores, four of which are responsible for frequent processing and four high-performance cores for high load use scenarios. At the same time, Apple also equipped the M1 chip with the latest performance controller, so that all eight CPU cores can work together, whether single thread or multi-thread performance, performance power ratio is exceptionally good.

According to Apple’s website, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Apple M1 is up to 2.8 times faster than the existing 1.7ghz 4-core Intel Core I7 MacBook Pro, which handles complex tasks and heavy workloads.

The scores of Geekbench 5.3.0 and CINEBENCH R23 can also prove that the M1 core has the performance of the step-over version. As shown in the figure, in Geekbench, M1 chip scored 1728 points for single core and 7563 points for multi-core. Numerically, the performance of single core exceeded that of i7 10700K processor on iMac, while the performance of multi-core was weaker than i7 10700K processor and stronger than i9 9900HK processor.

CINEBENCH R23 also scored an impressive 1492 for a single core and 7784 for multiple cores, putting it close to Intel’s top E5 processor and ahead of the I7’s 7700K.

In image processing, M1 core performance is also excellent, it has a maximum of 8 image processing core, each core contains 128 execution units, a total of nearly 25,000 threads can be executed, bringing 2.6 trillion times per second 32-bit floating point operation (FP32) amazing performance. In the Geekbench “OpenCL Score”, the combined 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU scored a final Score of 19158, beating Nvidia’s GTX 1050, an entry-level independent graphics card. In subsequent tests, the MacBook Pro with M1 chip was able to run smoothly major games such as World of Warcraft and Tomb Raider & Shadow.

Traditional laptop motherboard is distributed with CPU, independent graphics card and other hardware, and CPU and GPU have their own independent memory space. And apple in the mobile terminal on the processor design experience, make the M1 surrounding system memory architecture (UMA), the bandwidth and low latency of memory consolidation as a core for the whole SoC system memory pool, CPU and GPU can access an integrated memory structure, the technology to the M1 wick accessible with copies of the data, when the CPU memory use less, GPU can use relatively more memory.

The Mac ecological implementation of UMA has natural advantages. First, Apple has a strong control over the application end, system end and compiler. Second, Mac are concentration of cultural ecology, on the higher performance requirements and is basically used as Final Cut Pro or Photoshop multimedia tools such as software, requirements for high usage scenario is more web browsing, Office and other usage scenarios, so as long as the head and apple’s own application completes the optimization adaptation, can basically meet the vast majority of the user’s experience.


Final Cut Pro, Affinity Photo and Pixelmator Pro

Why do you choose these three software? As a professional video non-linear editing software developed by Apple, Final Cut Pro needs to rely on the performance of graphics processor in daily use. Affinity Publisher enlarges vector images more depending on processor performance. Pixelmator Pro “ML Super Resolution (Super Resolution) based on machine learning” function can use a machine learning method to identify the edge of the image content, pattern and texture, on the basis of the existing data sets and then a lot of training model to recreate the image details, can make the best of the 16 core called M1 chip engine of main and collateral channels, show the full performance of machine learning.

Using Final Cut Pro, Affinity Publisher and Pixelmator Pro, you can test the M1 chip’s image processing, CPU and Warp drive to see if they are strong.

“Advanced Productivity Tools” is the perfect word to describe the MacBook Pro 13 I have in my hands. Pixelmator Pro uses a 16-core meridian engine to fill in pixels and details with up to 11 trillion calculations per second when you import blurry images directly into the Pixelmator Pro and select “ML Super Resolution” from the image. Before and after comparison, it is obvious that the pixel-like pixelated blocks have disappeared after magnification of 1600% and become a softer color transition. After Pixelmator Pro’s restoration, higher resolution and detail can be easily obtained.

Affinity Publishe is a software app on the Mac platform that purports to be the ultimate typographer. It can translate, zoom, and scroll documents at 60 frames per second. As the GIF shows, when I use zoom to view vector images, I feel like I’m in a Russian doll world. When zooming into the toy shop in the lower right corner, we can see the toy car in the window. After zooming in, we can see the suitcase with the visible city view sticker on the toy car. After zooming in, the robot on the sticker can also clearly appear in front of us. Thanks to the M1 chip’s powerful computing power, the magnification process is silky smooth.

Apple officially claims that the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, based on the M1 chip, plays 8K videos smoothly, with no delay when paused or dragged. It can be intuitively seen from the gifs that when Final Cut Pro is used to play 8K videos, both the playback screen and the drag and drop progress bar are on call, allowing you to enjoy the smooth operation experience.

Of course, editing 8K video is also a test of chip performance. Final Cut Pro will render the video automatically after editing and producing the clip. After using the 16-inch MacBook Pro and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, the author found that it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to complete all the background rendering of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, while it only takes 5 minutes and 43 seconds for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro. The productivity tool deserves its name!


Change is best when it is imperceptible

How curious are you about the new 13-inch MacBook Pro? Since Apple announced an Arm64 chip based laptop, most users have been worried about the application’s compatibility. Historically, however, Apple has never been able to deliver a “test sample” to users, so as far back as WWDC in 2020, Apple has stated publicly that it will use Rosetta 2 to make the early transition.

While many may not have noticed, this isn’t the first time apple has made the switch from Intel to Arm64. Rosetta was originally created in 2006 to facilitate the transition of Apple products from PowerPC to Intel. At that time, It took only three years for Apple to complete the transition, and in 2009, It officially dropped its support for PowerPC. At this point, the OS X Snow Leopard pairing with Intel coincides with the resurgence of Apple’s Mac franchise. This year, as Mac products began to shift from Intel to the Arm64, Rosetta 2 was the obvious choice, along with the new macOS Big Sur system.

Now, if you look at this, one might ask, what is Rosetta 2? You can think of it as a “translator” on the Arm64 architecture processor Mac, whose main job was to “translate” intel-based instructions into commands that apple’s M1 chip could understand. On the one hand, in the early days of Apple’s Mac family’s switch to Arm64 apple chips, developers could easily adapt their applications to existing Mac products without making any special changes. On the other hand, it also avoids the embarrassment of having fewer apps available to users in the early days of Mac products with Apple chips.

Of course, we’ve known all this before! It sounds great, but how does it work? Therefore, the author tried his best to test the software compatibility of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Apple M1 chip. The result was summed up in a sentence, which is the subtitle of this section: “Imperceptible change is the best change”.

If you can just describe the overall experience of software compatibility with this new product in two words, “senseless” is probably the highest praise! Because in the overall software installation, the use of the process, from the user’s point of view, there is basically no sense of the processor architecture change such a big change. That’s because the experience is “the same” as with previous macBooks. It needs to be explained here that “the same” is in quotes mainly because it is a compliment, not a criticism. The term appears here, mainly to express that previously everyone worried about the compatibility of the application installation, the speed of the application startup, etc., did not appear, on the contrary, based on the same experience as the original, the overall speed has been improved.


What’s the first thing to do with a new MacBook? Yes, the natural thing is to install the application. The new MacBook Pro 13 uses the same software installation method as before, allowing users to either search the App Store for apps they want to install or download third-party packages over the Internet. The general installation process is the same as on the Intel-powered MacBook, with some dragging the app icon directly into Applications and others going through the steps of the software installation program.

As we can see in the figure below, the author has almost installed most of the commonly used office software on this new MacBook Pro 13, such as office series of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other daily office software, and Adobe series of PhotoShop, Premiere and other professional software for image and video processing. In addition, video entertainment, Social software are also indispensable; Of course, entertainment is also required in addition to business and office work. As can be seen from the picture, the author has successfully installed battle.net and Steam as well as World of Warcraft and Tomb Raider: Shadow of the Tomb Raider. All in all, the software was installed without any compatibility issues that had previously been of concern. It was perfectly installed and ran perfectly, not even realizing that it was already a MacBook Pro 13 running on an Arm64 processor.

Earlier, I was asked if even if software compatibility is not a problem, does it affect the startup speed of the application because it must be compiled through Rosetta 2 during installation and running? After practical experience, the author’s feeling is that there is no such thing as a “smooth” startup software in daily use. In daily use, it is even faster than the original Intel version of the product.

Rosetta 2 is also generally not compiled during installation, unless the software you install is so large that it only feels a little bit “validating the file.” In addition, it should be acknowledged that when a new application is newly installed, the startup speed is a little bit longer on the first run, but after the first run, the overall software startup speed is very fast.

Rosetta 2 May not make you aware of the compilation process, but ultimately what works for you is best. Snow’s official forum has announced that it will add support for Apple Silicon to the pre-9.0.2 patch for World of Warcraft released this week. In the near future, M1-powered MacBook Air/Pro and Mac Mini will run World of Warcraft natively. Adobe has also released A Beta version of Photoshop for Mac ARM for Apple Silicon hardware, which runs on the M1 chip and Apple’s latest operating system. With the rapid follow-up of large factories, the application ecology of native operation will become richer in the future.

After eliminating the worries about software compatibility and running speed, the author is most pleased that the Arm64 architecture based on Apple M1 chip can finally install apps for iPad and iPhone on Mac series. Believe that before to see that the author has installed software page screenshots, with careful friend saw a lot of mobile terminal exclusive APP. Obviously, the ability to install mobile apps opens up more possibilities for the Mac family, and also brings more playability.

Simple summing it up, this time based on apple M1 chip to build the new MacBook Pro 13 at the beginning of the public, rather than because of the lack of application to become a “things of little value”, instead of relying on Rosetta 2 M1 chipset is powerful force of neural networks to existing within the Mac ecological is obtained through the application of a perfect fit, at the same time, the addition of mobile terminal APP, a more icing on the cake. Although, at present, there are still some part of the mobile terminal APP adaptation problem (mainly for the use of the keyboard, touchpad, mouse habits), in general, in the daily office or entertainment break, don’t need to pick up the phone, can be in the MacBook Pro 13 points on an afternoon tea, which is a kind of how comfortable experience?

Of course, in addition to experience on a comprehensive upgrade, this is, of course, Apple ecological closed-loop firm step forward, at this point, Apple iPhone, iPod, Mac ecological formally through three terminal software, will eventually achieve lets the user to use the most appropriate terminal equipment in the right place to complete all the needs of the operation, which may be Apple’s most ambitious blueprint!


Write in the last

After the author’s personal experience, first of all, some concerns about this MacBook Pro 13 with M1 chip have been removed, such as the compatibility of software, the computational power of the chip, and whether the compilation of Rosetta 2 will affect the user experience. After a period of experience, it has to be said that compared with the performance rating of the previous Intel MacBook Pro 13, the use of Apple M1 chip makes the overall MacBook product performance and experience greatly upgraded. Take the new MacBook Pro 13 as an example. While the price remains the same, the performance of the product can accomplish the tasks that could be accomplished on the MacBook Pro 16, so as to obtain a higher experience at a lower cost. This is a natural upgrade.

In addition, when the processor is also replaced by Apple M1 chip, the new MacBook Pro 13 can be said to be the first MacBook product which is completely supported by Apple’s ecological loop. Thanks to the power of Apple’s overall ecology, the product experience is more complete and smooth, and the user experience is further upgraded. The whole experience seems to be more advanced, let a person feel different from through technology will be integrated with multiple terminal equipment, but not by ecological, can let all terminal in its most suitable scenario, provides the user the most need of service, in other words, also is to let the user to the habit and the most comfortable way to accomplish what you want to do, this is apple can give users the best experience.

Of course, the new MacBook Pro 13 just apple also complete ecological closed-loop a beginning, all of them, and in the future, as the research continuously strengthen the performance of the chip, Mac, all the products or the final will be the ultimate body of apple products, the ideal, is not the common terminal manufacturers can be reached, perhaps, this is the world’s most valuable technology company Apple’s real value.

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