Apple M4 chip

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple M4 debuted at the company’s May iPad event and will be introduced in new iPad Pro models this month, putting a more powerful processor in the company’s pro tablet than it has in its best-selling MacBook Air.

The Apple M4 chip is built on a ‘second-generation’ 3-nanometer process, which the company says provides the same performance as the Apple M3 with greatly improved efficiency, offering the iPad Pro desktop-like performance in a tablet without tanking its battery life.

On the spec side, the M4 chip brings to the iPad Pro the same kind of advances that the Apple M3 brought to MacBooks and the iMac last year, including mesh shading, hardware ray tracing, and dynamic caching. It includes a 10-core CPU and 10-core GPU, and Apple says the CPU is 50% faster than the M2’s, and the GPU is 400% faster than that of the M2.

Apple M4 chip

(Image credit: Apple)

Of course, given the huge push on AI, Apple is touting the neural engine inside its M-series silicon, which is Apple’s name for its SoC’s NPU. With 38 trillion operations a second, this is one of the fastest NPUs on the market, something that will especially help creators who are working with generative AI or AI-enhanced tools in apps like Adobe Photoshop and more.

New Apple M4 comes at a bad time for Microsoft and Intel

With the announcement of the new M4 chip, Apple continues to pull away from Microsoft and Intel in terms of performance. It’s especially notable that Microsoft Build, the tech giant’s yearly conference, is less than two weeks away. While it’s primarily a developer conference, there’s even more pressure on Microsoft to offer something that can compete with Apple, namely Windows on Arm

With Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X Elite chips that promise Apple M3-levels of performance, it might be Microsoft’s best chance to keep up with Apple, even though it is now behind yet again.

And then you have Intel. Intel’s latest processor, the Intel Core and Intel Core Ultra series, aren’t exactly blowing away performance records, and they still lag behind Apple’s M-series chips considerably when it comes to efficiency and battery life. How Intel plans to rectify that isn’t clear, but they absolutely must come up with some answer to the Apple M-series silicon, and the latest Intel Core Ultra chips aren’t it.

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John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.

Currently playing: Baldur’s Gate 3 (just like everyone else).

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