Apple M4 Chip: Is It Apple’s Foray into AI?

Apple M4 Chip: Is It Apple’s Foray into AI?

This morning Apple had a fun day announcing new iPad updates for its iPad Pro and iPad Air series but something also came out of the iPad Pro announcement, a new M4 chip.

This is the first time a chip like this has been released in an iPad, let alone an Apple device. I mean only last year we got the M3 chip in the MacBook Pro and then earlier this year in the MacBook Air.

But because every man and his dog is on the AI hype train it would only make sense that Apple would jump on it too, which they already have with the M3 but the M4 is more powerful than ever, well, that is what Apple tells us anyway.

M4 Chip: AI

The M4 chip has AI in mind, with a Neural Engine, which is an IP block in the chip dedicated to the acceleration of AI workloads. Apple said the M4 is its most powerful Neural Engine ever, capable of 38 trillion operations per second, 60x faster than the first Neural Engine in A11 Bionic.

This means that users with the iPad Pro should experience some very speedy, smart performances from the tablet that also won’t impact battery life, memory or app responsiveness.

Apple said, “The Neural Engine in M4 is Apple’s most capable yet, and is more powerful than any neural processing unit in any AI PC today.” They had to get a little shade in against PC for good measure.

M4 Chip: Specs

For those who love a good deep dive into technicalities, the M4 has a new up-to-10-core CPU consisting of up to four performance cores and now six efficiency cores. The next-generation cores feature improved branch prediction, with wider decode and execution engines for the performance cores, and a deeper execution engine for the efficiency cores. Both types of cores also feature next-generation ML accelerators.
Apple said the M4 chip delivers up to 1.5x faster CPU performance than the powerful M2 in the previous iPad Pro. Apple said that M4 boosts performance across pro workflows.

Image: Apple

M4 Chip: GPU

The new 10-core GPU of M4 builds upon the next-generation graphics architecture of the M3 family of chips. It features Dynamic Caching, which allocates local memory dynamically in hardware and in real time to dramatically increase the average utilisation of the GPU. Apple says this significantly increases performance for the most demanding pro apps and games.

Hardware-accelerated ray tracing comes to iPad for the first time, and enables even more realistic shadows and reflections in games and other graphically rich experiences. Hardware-accelerated mesh shading is also built into the GPU, and delivers greater capability and efficiency in geometry processing, enabling more visually complex scenes in games and graphics-intensive apps. Pro rendering performance in apps like Octane gets a huge boost with M4, and is now up to four times faster than on M2.1 With these improvements to the CPU and GPU, M4 maintains Apple silicon’s industry-leading performance per watt. M4 can deliver the same performance as M2 using just half the power. And compared with the latest PC chip in a thin and light laptop, M4 can deliver the same performance using just a fourth of the power.

M4 Chip: Display

The Media Engine supports the most popular video codecs, like H.264, HEVC, and ProRes, it brings hardware acceleration for AV1 to iPad for the first time. This provides more power-efficient playback of high-resolution video experiences from streaming services. During the Let Loose event, Apple said iPad Pro users would notice the improvement of speed and capabilities in gaming too.

We will be reviewing the iPad Pro and be testing out the M4 chip’s capabilities so stay tuned. The M4 Chip is currently in the iPad Pro, which was announced today but I have a feeling it won’t be the last we see of it.

Image: Apple

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