KEYNOTE APPLE. New M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, new MacBook Pro, AirPods 3: Apple presented several very interesting new features at its conference on October 18. Here is the gist.
[Mis à jour lundi 18 octobre à 23 h 15] Fans ofApple no longer held in place this Monday, October 18, a few hours from the second keynote of autumn 2021 of the apple brand. Rumors had been rife for some time, with many specialists predicting the imminent arrival of exciting new products, including more compact AirPods wireless headphones and PowerBook Pro laptops powered by a more powerful version of the famous home-made M1 chip, released on the market. last year. Rumors fueled by the slogan that Apple had written on its official invitation: “Unleashed”, in French, “Hang on!” And it is clear that the diviners were not much mistaken, including on the details that had obviously been leaked. Apple has presented the third generation AirPods and the two expected MacBook Pros well. But keeping a little surprise for the good mouth: because instead of a variation of the M1, two new chips have been unveiled, the M1 Pro and the M1 Max. And their performance seems largely up to expectations… ¨Small results of the announcements.
Like all keynotes since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Apple’s October 18 conference was held exclusively online, without an audience, from Apple Park in Cupertino. And as usual, it started on time, at 7 p.m. French time and ended 50 minutes later. Once again, the show was at the rendezvous, the apple brand perfectly mastering this type of communication, with a meticulous performance – entirely done in advance – and sequences and special effects worthy of Hollywood productions. The kind of show that could serve as an example in business schools and that anyone interested in high-tech must have seen at least once in their life. If you missed the show, which was broadcast in streaming, “live”, and accessible to all, you can watch it again on the site and Apple’s YouTube channel (see below). Note that the version offered on the official site is even subtitled in French.
M1 Pro and M1 Max: the new high-end chips from Apple
The most important novelty of the keynote was undoubtedly the evolution of the M1 chip. Or, more exactly, its two high-end versions which now power two new portable Macs, but which we are likely to see soon integrated into other models. While the oracles were counting on an M1X or M2 chip, Apple presented two new versions called M1 Pro and M1 Max. Appellations that do not seem to be usurped as their characteristics are impressive.
Let us first remember that Apple chips (Apple Silicon to be exact) are all-in-one circuits with ARM architecture, intended to replace Intel models of the Core i5, Core i7 and Core i9 type which are based on a CISC architecture of type x86 and which currently equip high-end Macs. Apple thus began a major development – we can even speak of a revolution – last year by presenting its first in-house chip, called M1, which clearly breaks with the past on a technical level, by offering – and this is the ‘essential – very high level performance, often far superior to that of Intel and AMD processors. Because, in addition to a very fine engraving in 5 nm, which makes it possible to increase the integration density of the elementary components – the transistors – and at the same time to reduce the electrical consumption and the temperature, the M1 is distinguished by its type design. SoC (system on a chip, or complete system on a circuit in French) which combines the main processor (CPU), the graphics processor (GPU) and even the random access memory (Ram) in a single block.
If the original M1 has caused a sensation since its release, the M1 Pro and the M1 Max are likely to make even more noise because these two chips go much further by offering significantly higher performance for an always controlled power consumption. Thus, the M1 Pro incorporates a 10-core CPU (8 high-performance cores and 2 high-energy-efficient cores), according to Apple, is up to 70% faster than the original M1. It would even deliver performance up to 1.7 times higher than an 8-core laptop processor for the same level of power consumption, and it achieves peak performance of the PC chip by consuming up to at 70% less energy, still according to Apple, which did not explicitly designate the processor compared (obviously an Intel Core i7 of 10e generation). The M1 Pro’s GPU has up to 16 cores and is up to twice as fast as that of the M1 chip. As for unified RAM, it can reach 32 GB depending on the configuration chosen, with a bandwidth of 200 GB / s. Enough to satisfy very demanding uses.
The M1 Max goes even further. If its CPU is identical to that of the M1 Pro (10 cores including 8 high performance and 2 high energy efficiency), it has a more opulent GPU (32 cores!) Capable of delivering graphics performance up to 4 times higher than those of the M1 and can embed up to 64 GB of unified RAM offering 400 GB / s of bandwidth. With this competitive chip, Apple is clearly targeting workstations intended for very heavy processing in real time (3D, video, audio, etc.). Certainly, it will be necessary to wait for independent tests and comparisons with well-identified rivals to know what the new M1s are really worth, but it seems clear that Cupertino wants to strike a big blow and mark a new stage in its technological transition by showing its lead. vis-à-vis Intel.
14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro: New Laptops for Professionals
The first computers to take advantage of the M1 Pro and M1 Max are two new high-end laptops from the MacBook Pro family, a 14-inch (exactly 14.2-inch) and a 16-inch (16.2-inch). These new models benefit from a mini-Led type panel, a display technology promising superb image quality, close to OLED, with a variable refresh rate of up to 120 Hz to improve fluidity in fast movements. Equipped with an aluminum chassis (recyclable), these MacBook Pro benefit from a refreshed design with flat sides inspired by the iPhone 12. In addition to the essential Thunderbolt ports dear to Apple, they integrate a classic HDMI port, a memory card reader SD and even a “non-intrusive” MagSafe power outlet. The famous TouchBar which was very. criticized is replaced by a row of function keys. And the screen, which sees its tapered edges, hosts a small horizontal notch at the top housing a new Full HD (1080p) webcam, a bit like on the iPhone, which is quite astonishing – it is fortunately integrated into the menu bar. macOS, so as not to amputate the useful part of the display. The image is still a leap forward: the screen is Liquid Retina XDR type with a definition of 3,024 x 1,964 pixels on the 14.2 inches and 3,456 x 2,234 pixels at 254 pixels on the 16.2 inches (or a resolution of 254 pixels per inch in both cases), and it achieves up to 1,000 nits of constant (full screen) brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness for a contrast of 1,000,000 : 1. The sound has not been neglected, with “quality” studio microphones and no less than six speakers, including two tweeters. The battery life is up sharply compared to the previous generation, with up to 17 and 21 hours of continuous video playback respectively, which is remarkable.
The new MacBook Pro equipped with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips can be ordered now at Apple’s online store and in the Apple Store app. They will arrive at customers’ homes, select Apple Stores and certain authorized resellers from Tuesday, October 26. The new 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at € 2,249 and the new 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at € 2,749.
macOS Monterey: a free update on October 25
Contrary to what many expected, the arrival of the new MacBook Pros was not accompanied by the official release of the final version of Monterey, the new version of macOS, presented last June at the WWDC, the developer conference. Apple. Apple just reported that the new system will be available on October 25 as a free update. As with the switch to MacOS 11 Big Sur, the version released at the end of 2020, macOS 12 Monterey will obviously not be reserved for only Mac M1 and derivatives, and should be compatible with many models with Intel processors released in recent years – even if the older ones will be excluded from evolution. This eighteenth incarnation of macOS should logically bring many new features, already presented by Apple on a dedicated page : FaceTime conversations compatible with Windows and Android, redesigned tab bars in the Safari browser, and especially SharePlay, a function allowing easy sharing of live content, to follow several programs in audio or video streaming …
AirPods 3: more compact and less expensive wireless headphones
As many experts had predicted, the keynote was also an opportunity for Apple to present its AirPods 3, its new wireless headphones. This third edition inaugurates a new design, very different from that of AirPods 1 and 2, with shorter rods. Equipped with a new charging case that is also more compact, the AirPods 3 are compatible with Apple’s recent (three-dimensional) spatial audio technology but do not have an active noise reduction system, a function that remains reserved for AirPods Pro, models more expensive. According to Apple, the sound quality has been improved thanks to new transducers (speakers), but also thanks to the introduction of adaptive equalization technology that automatically changes listening conditions. A system to be judged in practice. The battery life of the headphones can now reach six hours between two charges. Above all, the price has been significantly softened since the AirPods 3 are offered at 199 euros. They will be available from Tuesday October 26.