Apple on Tuesday debuted the first Macs with homegrown chips, introducing updated versions of the MacBook Air and Mac mini that use its new M1 processor.
Why it matters: The move away from Intel processors could reduce costs for Apple and give the company more flexibility in design, but also adds short-term uncertainty as well as extra work for developers.
New MacBook Air
The first Mac with Apple chips is a MacBook Air, which resembles past models, but is powered by Apple's M1 processor rather than an Intel chip.
- Apple says the battery on the new MacBook Air can power 15 hours of Web browsing, 18 hours of video playback and last twice as long when doing video conferencing.
- Apple also removed the fan used in previous models.
- It still starts at $999 ($899 for education customers)
Apple put its newest chip in its smallest desktop computer, the Mac mini. (While not widely rumored, the move wasn't a huge shock since Apple used a modified Mac mini to offer developers a machine to test how their apps would run on Apple silicon.)
- The Mac mini will start at $699 — $100 less than the prior Intel-powered model.
The M1 processor
Apple's M1 processor has 16 billion transistors and an 8-core CPU (4 high-performance and 4 high-efficiency) as well as 8 graphics cores. Apple says the high-efficiency cores alone can deliver the same performance as current MacBook Airs at a quarter of the power consumption.
Between the lines: One of the key things to watch is how quickly developers optimize their apps for the new chips. Apple says all its apps have been updated for the new chips, as well as key programs from others.
- Adobe's Lightroom is coming next month while Photoshop will arrive next year.
For those that aren't optimized, Apple has a translation engine, dubbed Rosetta 2. Most apps for the iPad and iPhone should also now run on the Mac.
Go deeper: Why Apple's shift to homegrown chips matters
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