Apple’s M4 chip exposed, will all Macs be transformed into “AI Macs” by the end of the year?

Microsoft had just announced that it would beat the M3 MacBook Air on Arm, but then it was announced that Apple's M4 processor would focus on artificial intelligence.

Technology reporter Mark Gurman recently reported that Apple’s M4 chip is close to mass production and will focus on improving AI performance. It is expected that by the end of 2024, we will be able to see new Mac products equipped with this chip.

All Mac lines upgraded to M4

Mark Gurman pointed out that the M4 chip will cover the entire Mac product line.

The first batch of M4 Mac products will be launched from the end of this year to the beginning of next year, including the new iMac, basic 14-inch MacBook Pro, high-end 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini.

In 2025, these new Mac products will also be launched one after another: the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air will be updated in the spring, the Mac Studio will be updated in the middle of the year, and the Mac Pro will be updated later.

For the MacBook Air series equipped with Apple's M-series chips, this is likely to be the shortest update. The first three models were released one year apart.

▲ MacBook Air equipped with M3 processor

For Mac mini, Mac Pro and Mac Studio, the M4 model to be released next year is a "cross-generation" update, because the latest models on sale of these three devices are still equipped with M2 series chips.

However, Mark Gurman said that Apple is testing Mac Studio equipped with M3 series and M4 series chips at the same time, so it is not sure whether Apple will launch an M3 desktop product this year.

It is revealed that the M4 chip has three versions: an entry-level version code-named Donan, an enhanced version code-named Brava, and a high-end version code-named Hidra.

Donan will be used in the entry-level MacBook Pro, MacBook Air series and low-end versions of Mac mini. Brava chips will be used in high-end MacBook Pro and Mac mini, and Mac Studio is testing a variant of Brava.

The Hidra chip is designed for the Mac Pro and is said to "enhance" the performance of the Mac Pro. According to reports, Mac Pro sales are lower among the Mac product lines, and customers have complained to Apple about the chip specifications it carries.

▲ Mac Pro

Apple also plans to upgrade the memory of high-end Mac desktops to 512 GB. Currently, both Mac Studio and Mac Pro only support up to 192 GB of unified memory, which is far lower than the maximum 1.5 TB supported by older Intel models.

MacRumors also previously analyzed that Apple’s chip partner TSMC is expected to start producing 2nm process chips in the second half of 2025. Therefore, the M4 chip is likely to continue to maintain the 3nm process like the M3, and there is a certain probability of using TSMC’s enhanced version of the 3nm process. and efficacy are expected to increase.

Is a wave of “AI Macs” coming soon?

If we talk about technology keywords in 2024, "AI" is definitely the one mentioned by the most people. Not only AI large models and robots continue to develop, but also various hardware manufacturers are rushing to launch AI hardware: AI mobile phones, AI PCs, and even AI smart homes…

Therefore, when Gurman mentioned that the M4 processor will highlight AI performance, it was not too surprising.

PC camps are all rushing to deploy "AI PCs", especially Microsoft has joined hands with Qualcomm to "declare war" on Apple: the powerful performance of Snapdragon X Elite will greatly promote the development of Windows on Arm, and Arm Surface products equipped with this processor Will beat the M3 Macbook Air.

Naturally, Apple will not lag behind in its AI layout. The M3 MacBook Air, which was declared war by Microsoft, is Apple's first Mac product to be officially labeled with an "AI" label. It is called "the best consumer AI notebook in the world" by Apple. .

Moreover, Apple has repeatedly stated and reported that it will continue to invest in AI this year. The upcoming iOS 18 and macOS 15 are expected to be very "AI", so it is foreseeable that the M4 series chips will highlight AI performance.

Earlier this year, Economic Daily reported that the new M4 chip will significantly increase the number and performance of AI computing cores, and the number of NPUs may increase significantly.

To reverse the situation, Apple needs to "crowd out the toothpaste"

2024 so far has definitely not been a good year for Apple.

Being pursued by the EU, it canceled its car-building plans and its product shipments were not as good as before. The new M3 MacBook Air has been on sale for a month and has been discounted by US$100 on Amazon overseas. The global PC market is sluggish, and MacBook is not immune.

Bloomberg reports that as of Wednesday’s close this week, Apple’s stock price has fallen 13% this year.

Therefore, the M4 chip Mac will be launched this year, and the chips will be updated for the entire series. It is likely that Apple is trying to stimulate sales of the Mac product line.

The smaller improvement of the M3 chip also affects the appeal of the Mac to a certain extent. Many netizens call the M3 "squeezing out toothpaste." Most of the data on the M3 Mac product introduction page is compared with the M1, which more or less hints at the M3 comparison. The improvements over the previous generation M2 were modest.

The Windows on Arm camp, which is gradually catching up, is expected to put further pressure on the Mac series.

If M4 is entrusted with the task of boosting Mac sales, Apple will have to be willing to "squeeze out the toothpaste" this time and improve Mac product performance and product capabilities. AI may also be a good breakthrough point.

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