|Launched||November 10, 2020|
|Designed by||Apple Inc.|
|Max. CPU clock rate||3.2 GHz|
|L1 cache||320 KB per core (performance cores, 192 instructions + 128 data)|
192 KB per core (efficient cores, 128 instructions + 64 data)
|L2 cache||12 MB (performance cores)|
4 MB (efficient cores)
|Architecture and classification|
|Application||Desktop (Mac Mini, iMac), Notebook (MacBook family), Tablet (iPad Pro)|
|Min. feature size||5 nm|
|Microarchitecture||"Firestorm" and "Icestorm"|
|GPU(s)||Apple-designed integrated graphics (up to 8 cores)|
|Predecessor||Intel Core and Apple T2 chip (Mac) |
Apple A12Z Bionic (iPad Pro)
|Mac transition to|
The Apple M1 is an ARM-based system on a chip (SoC) designed by Apple Inc. as a central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU) for its Macintosh computers and iPad Pro tablets. It was inspired by their Apple A14 Bionic chip. It also marks the first major change to the instruction set used by Macintosh computers since Apple transitioned Macs from PowerPC to Intel in 2006. Apple claims that it has the world's fastest CPU core "in low power silicon" and the world's best CPU performance per watt.
The M1 has four high-performance 'Firestorm' and four energy-efficient 'Icestorm' cores, providing a hybrid configuration similar to ARM DynamIQ and Intel's Lakefield and Alder Lake processors. This combination allows power-use optimizations not possible with previous Apple-Intel architecture devices. Apple claims the energy-efficient cores use one-tenth the power of the high-performance ones. The high-performance cores have 192 KB of L1 instruction cache and 128 KB of L1 data cache and share a 12 MB L2 cache; the energy-efficient cores have a 128 KB L1 instruction cache, 64 KB L1 data cache, and a shared 4 MB L2 cache.
The M1 integrates an Apple-designed eight-core (seven in some base models) graphics processing unit (GPU). Each GPU core contains 128 Arithmetic Logic Units (ALUs). In total, the M1 GPU contains up to 128 Execution units or 1024 ALUs, which by Apple's claim can execute nearly 25,000 threads simultaneously and have a maximum floating point (FP32) performance of 2.6 TFLOPs.
The M1 uses 4266 MT/s LPDDR4X SDRAM in a unified memory configuration shared by all the components of the processor. The SoC and RAM chips are mounted together in a system-in-a-package design. 8 GB and 16 GB configurations are available.
The M1 contains dedicated neural network hardware in a 16-core Neural Engine, capable of executing 11 trillion operations per second. Other components include an image signal processor (ISP), an NVMe storage controller, Thunderbolt 4 controllers, and a Secure Enclave.
As it is for the Mac Mini, it draws a minimum of 7 Watts when idle, and at a maximum load, the Mac Mini draws 39 Watts. This performance per watt of the M1 provides the best battery life for the MacBook family ever, doubling the battery life from the previous Intel-Based MacBooks.
The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) are considered to be the fastest MacBooks ever produced by Apple with the MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) leading the field in battery life, while also causing the resale value of Intel MacBooks to drop sharply.
Since its release, some users who charge M1 devices through USB-C hubs are reporting bricking their device. The devices that are reported to cause this issue are third party USB-C hubs and non-Thunderbolt docks (excluding Apple's own dongle). Apple is handling this issue with a logic board replacement and by telling its customers to not charge through those hubs. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 includes a fix to prevent 2019 or later MacBook Pro models and 2020 or later MacBook Air models from being damaged by certain third-party USB-C hubs and docks.
The M1 deviates from ARMv8 in that it starts as a Type 2 Hypervisor (VHE mode) instead of the prescribed default of Type 1 (non-VHE) mode. The support for non-VHE mode is removed, violating the ARM specification. Other operating systems and hypervisors for the ARM architecture must be modified to allow for this difference.
There is another minor flaw in M1's implementation of ARM which was given the name "M1RACLES". Two sandboxed applications can covertly exchange data without the system's knowledge by using an unintentionally writable processor register.