Apple’s new M4 chip is expected to fully involve AI

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Apple's M3 Mac line is essentially new. The company launched the M3 MacBook Pro and iMac in October, followed by the M3 MacBook Air last month. But Apple is clearly not resting: The company is reportedly preparing to refresh its entire Mac lineup, including desktops and laptops, with M4 chips. Why? Artificial intelligence, of course.

The news comes from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, whose sources say Apple is preparing to start producing the next generation of Apple silicon devices for every Mac. As with previous generations of M-series chips, Apple plans to offer the M4 in at least three levels. The company has interesting codenames for each of its products: Donan, the entry-level M4; Brava, the mid-level M4; and Hidra, the high-end M4. If Apple sticks to its previous naming convention, you can reasonably expect Apple to call them M4, M4 Pro, and M4 Max.

Can’t wait for the M4? Here are my favorite Mac options right now:

  • M1 MacBook Air: $649

  • M2 MacBook Air: $849 (normally $999)

  • M2 MacBook Pro (updated): $1,551.08 (normally $1,845.95)

Apple plans to add these chips to different Mac products: Donan could end up in the MacBook Air, iMac, base model MacBook Pro, and base model Mac mini. Brava will likely run on more powerful versions of the MacBook Pro and Mac mini. (Apple is reportedly testing the Brava chip with the unreleased M3 chip in Mac Studio.) Hidra will be reserved for the Mac Pro, the most powerful Mac Apple has ever produced. Apple may even increase the maximum RAM of its highest-end Macs to 500GB (the current maximum is 192GB).

Still, we don't actually know how powerful these chips are. Apple Silicon's year-over-year performance gains are generally modest, as each iteration of the M series has been impressive in its own right. However, things may be different this year: Apple is widely expected to announce a slew of new AI features during WWDC in June. The company likely wants these Macs to power these AI features as much as possible because they want to make as much of a splash in the AI ​​space as possible.

Apple is notoriously behind on generative AI: aside from a few small AI-driven features, the company has almost completely excluded itself from this emerging technology, and is one of the last big tech companies to do so. one. If it wants to catch up and catch up quickly, it needs to wow us with whatever new features it plans to roll out into its products this year. Having a Mac with an AI-designed chip would go a long way — even if some of those AI features might be powered by Google's AI technology. It might even boost Mac sales: If consumers think the M4 is doing better than before, Apple could see an improvement in sales after a 27% drop last fiscal year.

Still, I can't imagine Apple abandoning its existing M lineup for the M4. These chips are still great, and I still recommend the M1 MacBook Air to most people. Unless the company plans a radical pivot to boost its AI potential, I'd bet the M4 will be more of a commitment to AI than a Mac revolution. Of course, if you want to take full advantage of Apple's new AI capabilities, buy an M4, but if you have an M1, M2, or M3, I guess you can use these new features as well.