When to expect a new chip on the Mac

With the surprising announcement of the M4 chip for the new OLED iPad Pro, Apple declares the end of the M3 processor family by focusing on this new era. However, it means Cupertino needs to start updating all its MacBook and Mac models with the M4 chip. Here’s when these devices might get a refresh.

Is the M4 chip any good? How will it impact a new MacBook?

Apple M4 chip: Specs and features. Image source: Apple Inc.

So far, the only Apple device you can get the M4 chip is the new OLED iPad Pro. Unlike the M3 processor, this new one uses the second-generation 3nm technology, which is more power efficient and solves an overheating problem iPhone users experience with the A17 Pro while improving CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine power.

According to Apple, the M4 chip has a powerful new CPU with 4 performance cores and 6 efficiency cores, with next-gen ML generators. Up to 50% faster CPU compared to M2. With a 10-core GPU, it offers Dynamic Caching and hardware ray tracing. M4 can deliver the same performance as the M2 with just half the power. The Neural Engine comes with a 16-core design, with up to 38 trillion operations per second. It’s 60x faster than Apple’s first Neural Engine.

M4 MacBook and Mac models’ release date

2023 Mac Studio On DeskImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Knowing that the M4 MacBook will be a huge improvement, especially for those with an M1 Mac or older models, expect a release date for M4 Macs starting later this year. So far, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman is the only reporting about Apple’s new Mac models calendar. Here’s what we know.

  • MacBook Pro: Later this year, Apple will unveil the variants of the M4, M4 Pro, and M4 Max for its low-end and high-end MacBook Pro models
  • Mac mini: Later this year, with M4 and M4 Pro variants
  • iMac: Later this year, with the M4 chip
  • MacBook Air: Similar to the M3 models, the release date for the M4 MacBook Air, in 13-inch and 15-inch options, is expected for spring of 2025
  • Mac Studio: While it seems Apple will skip the M3 Ultra, it means a new Mac Studio might not be announced during WWDC 2024; that said, expect an M4 Max and M4 Ultra options in mid-2025
  • Mac Pro: Gurman thinks the release date for the M4 Mac Pro will be in late 2025.

The journalist says Apple plans to “highlight the AI processing capabilities of the components and how they’ll integrate with the next version of macOS” 15.

Gurman also reports that Apple plans to “beef up” the Mac mini as customers complain about the specifications available on current models. On the other hand, high-end Mac desktops could support half-terabyte of memory, while current Mac Studio and Mac Pro top out at 192GB.

That said, the main focus with the M4 Macs is to add new AI features across its products, as it’s planning to preview a slew of new features at WWDC 2024. Gurman says, “A large swath of those features are designed to run on the devices themselves — rather than in remote servers — and speedier chips will help drive those enhancements.”

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