New Apple Silicon Macbooks ‘Faster Than Every Currently Shipping Mac Laptop’

Apple is expected to introduced new ‘Apple Silicon’ Macs at their upcoming event.

Apple has announced one of its special events for next Tuesday, Nov 10th, and is expected to introduce their first ‘Apple Silicon’ Macs at the event.

Apple is expected by many to announce a 13-inch MacBook Air, a 13-inch MacBook Pro and a 16-inch MacBook Pro during the event.

Earlier in the year, Apple announced plans to transition from Intel-based Macs to new designs, based on their own Apple Silicon. Apple has long used its own chip designs for iPhones, iPads and other devices, and has rapidly advanced them to increase their performance vs power consumption.

Now several Mac sites are speculating that Tuesday’s events will see the introduction of Apple’s fastest laptops ever.

Apple Insider is reporting that a Geekbench 5 test of an unannounced ‘A14X’ processor shows it delivering multi-core performance of 7220, an increase in performance over earlier Apple chips.

It’s also better performance than current Intel-based Mac laptops. For comparison, a 16-inch MacBook Pro with the Intel Core-i9 processor scores 6869 for multi-core tests.

Six Colors’ Jason Snell argues that the Geekbench score aligns with expectations for the new processors, based on the performance of current Apple Silicon iOS devices:

“Whether you accept that GeekBench score as real or just extrapolate from the speed increases across the A series and the multipliers that occur when Apple adds more processor cores in its iPad-class chips, it seems highly likely that the A14X processor will be faster than every currently shipping Mac laptop.

That’s right, even a lowly MacBook Air should be roughly comparable in performance to the current top-of-the-line eight-core 16-inch MacBook Pro. (For the record, it’ll also probably be faster than all but the top-of-the-line 5K iMacs, the iMac Pro, and the Mac Pro.)”

We won’t know how Apple Silicon performs against Intel-based Macs in real-world situations for several weeks. But it’s unlikely that Apple would introduce one of the biggest transitions in their Mac line without debuting hardware that makes a compelling case for their plans.

Pros & Cons Of ‘Apple Silicon’ Macs

It will take a year or more to fully understand the ramifications of this transition for Mac-based electronic musicians.

The biggest ‘pro’ is the promise of faster Mac computers and more rapid advancement of Mac hardware. The power of iOS devices has been advancing at a breakneck speed, while slower advancement of Intel processors in recent years has made it harder to justify the cost of upgrading to newer computers.

Another ‘pro’ for the transition is that all of Apple’s devices will share a common processing platform. For musicians, this means that there will be more professional level applications available for the iPad. And it will make it easier for developers of iOS audio and music software to create Mac versions of their apps.

Some have also speculated that the transition is likely to lead to more ‘modular’ Apple computers. The iPad Pro is a move in this direction, in the way that it is very usable by itself as a tablet, but can be customized with accessories for other use cases. With the transition to a shared processing platform, many expect ‘mobile’ applications to reach parity with desktop software, and for modularity to increase.

On the flip side, Mac power users are likely to be in for a bumpy ride for the next couple of years. With Apple’s previous PowerPC-to-Intel transition, the company switched its hardware over in two years, between 2005 and 2006. But it kept ‘Rosetta’, its application compatibility layer, in place until macOS Lion was released in 2011.

For most users, this made the change painless. But there were several significant ‘cons’ for power users.

The most noticeable impact was that some developers abandoned updating the PowerPC versions of their apps. For many musicians, that meant that you had to upgrade your Mac if you wanted to run new versions of your music software. It also meant that some of your music applications became abandonware.

A related issue was that there wasn’t a financial incentive for some hardware developers to create updated drivers for older peripherals. This increased the transition cost for many musicians, because it meant that some of their peripheral devices, like audio interfaces, had to be replaced.

Another ‘con’ of this change is that there will be a period of several years where some of your apps will not have been updated, so they’ll need to rely on Apple’s ‘Rosetta 2’ compatibility layer, which essentially lets your older apps run on the new hardware. With the PowerPC-to-Intel transition, Rosetta compatibility meant that most apps ‘just worked’, but with additional overhead that meant that they ran slower and took more hard drive space than apps that had been updated.

For users that currently dual-boot their Macs into MacOS & Windows, that option is also going away. For users that need this functionality, it will mean using virtualization software to run a virtual PC within MacOS. Using a virtual machine can be a very powerful option, but creates additional overhead that can impact performance.

Next week’s event promises to be the most significant introduction in over a decade for Mac users. For Mac musicians, Apple Silicon is expected to result in faster Macs and accelerated advancement of the Mac platform – but also some headaches and additional costs to make the transition.

What do you think of Apple’s plans for moving to Apple Silicon? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

40 thoughts on “New Apple Silicon Macbooks ‘Faster Than Every Currently Shipping Mac Laptop’

  1. Not sure that I buy the idea that Apple will put its fastest ships in a MacBook Air – they’ll make it thinner or give it better battery life and save the most powerful chips for the MacBook Pro.

    But I am really interested in seeing what this change will mean. I’m not too worried about losing peripherals, because my USB devices have been plug and play.

    1. Most likely a skewed benchmark, where intel (who I am no fan of) lose out in some dimension(s) to the arm chip, but still destroy them in single core performance just for example.

      In terms of what real world applications do when faced with this difference, certain tasks can only be done serially by a single cores and intel will still win big there.

      1. Funny how I had it exactly backwards. It is now apparent that the M1 single core performance is outstanding and it’s multi core performance is not as good. I suppose the new M1X will address this.

    1. The hype is basically “best mac ever”. Its not the best laptop ever, if you care about CPU performance, of course, not even close. But, I may buy myself one of these new Macs. They sound interesting.

  2. I’m a committed Logic type, so I’ll go for a new iMac eventually, after this round of new dust settles. The mad gallop for More and More eludes me, somewhat. You’ll always have to buy new peripherals eventually, upgrade your key apps and wrestle with reconfiguring it all when you finally make the leap. I went through the clunky Intel changeover period, but nothing so maddening since then. Frankly, planning for some SSD space seems as helpful as more cores or CPU speed, unless you start pushing a massive track count. I’m glad I’m an in-the-middle music-based user so I don’t need a warp drive option.

  3. It will be a difficult change for those of us that are nursing along older hardware/software. BUT, Intel has seriously failed this year in their processor roadmap, so it will be a good thing for Apple to be independent of Intel’s failure to produce on a 7nm process.

    1. > it will be a good thing for Apple to be independent of Intel’s failure to produce on a 7nm process.

      I’d like to see AMD (which, like Apple, benefits from TSMC’s foundry which beat intel on 7nm and beyond) produce some good laptop chips, and I wouldn’t mind seeing iMacs with Ryzen CPUs. Apple currently uses AMD GPUs but not CPUs.

  4. > The most noticeable impact was that some developers abandoned updating the PowerPC versions of their apps. For many musicians, that meant that you had to upgrade your Mac if you wanted to run new versions of your music software. It also meant that some of your music applications became abandonware.

    Breaking your software and creating abandonware is a serious issue that Apple doesn’t seem do do much about. For example, when they dropped support for 32-bit software it broke a bunch of programs and plug-ins, many of which (notably plug-ins and games) will probably never be updated.

    Apple also has the horrible habit of breaking iOS apps yearly with every iOS update. But if you don’t update then you are susceptible to serious security holes. Unfortunately iOS has tons of abandonware and discontinued apps in the music area and elsewhere. Part of it may be due to this burden of yearly maintenance work just to keep an app running at all; this cuts into time that could be spent improving the app. Also discovery is poor in the app store, so older apps seem to drop off the radar quickly.

    In any case, x86/Windows has vastly better backward compatibility.

    1. There’s a trade off between backwards compatibility and future-proofing,

      Microsoft’s fear of breaking things meant that they were always trying to protect their family jewels and make everything run Windows.That led them to make crappy phones, which let Apple swoop in and become the most successful business in history.

      That backwards compatibility, ‘make it run Word’ mentality also led Microsoft to make crappy tablets, which let Apple completely dominate the tablet space.

      That strategy meant that they’ve been sidelined on just about every big tech trend in the last 10-20 years – search, mobile computing, wearables, AI, open source, smart home, intelligent assistants, etc, etc, etc.

      Microsoft’s decision to protect its cash cow, instead of inventing the next big thing, is already considered one of the biggest business mistakes in history.

  5. it all depends on the price… most modern computers are “fast enough”.,
    i am more interested in battery life, fan noise and PRICE…
    i don’t care if it is twice as fast if it cost twice as much
    one thing is for sure , you better sell your mac now (soon)gone are the days of 6 year old mac being worth $$$$

    1. The thing is, speed and battery life have been getting better and better on my iPhone and iPad so fast that I can justify getting new ones every three years or so.

      And it used to be that way with computers, too. But Intel has such a monopoly that they don’t have the incentive to innovate anymore. If I get a new computer, it will be maybe 50% faster than my 5 year old MacBook Pro. Why upgrade?

      Meanwhile, my phone has a dedicated AI processor and can edit 4K video.

      I am cautiously optimistic that Apple Silicon will make Macs lead the industry like their iPhones and iPads have, and make upgrading your computer interspersing again.

      1. “If I get a new computer, it will be maybe 50% faster than my 5 year old MacBook Pro”

        I wish this were true. More like 30% at best. 🙁

        What happened to the photon computers we were promised in the 1990s?

      2. intel is dead to me … i am very happy apple is going custom silicon
        right now i have my eye on AMD Ryzen™ 4000/5000 Series it is more than fast enough for my needs
        but when the dust settles and apple is more unified., may be in about 2 years, i would be very interested in a hybrid of the ipad air and macbook air
        a “”macbook air pro”” or “”ibook pro””

    1. That’s such a weird argument. Macs are generally supported by Apple for about 7-8 years. Never had any hardware issues with them and the pro machines are built well.

  6. I’ve decided to buy one of these Apple Silicon Macs (within reason).
    There are many unknowns, of course, including price. But I’m overdue for an upgrade and this was the cue I was waiting for. (I’m currently using a 2012 MacBook Pro with SSD, which is a surprisingly serviceable machine if I don’t crank the sampling rate too high or use too small a buffer size.)

    An important advantage that Apple did describe during WWDC is that it’ll be possible to run iPadOS apps as long as devs opt-in. In this sense, it could be a great opportunity to get into AudioKit Pro, especially since they recently released an updated complete Open Source template with AUv3 support.

    As for Windows support, it’s not clear that it’s completely out the window. After all, MS’s flagship OS does run on ARM chips and it might not be that technically difficult for the two companies to “do the right thing”. Yet we shouldn’t rely on that support for purchasing decisions.

    Much further from rational decisions is the common guess that Apple might release touchscreen Macs. Embigening UI elements in Big Sur is likely part of the process. And, obviously, officially-announced support for iPadOS apps lends credence to that speculation.
    Which doesn’t mean we’ll get those on Tuesday.

    On PCs, touchscreens haven’t been such a gamechanger for most use cases. In musicking apps, they can be very useful. My favourite DAW, Bitwig Studio 3, is a neat example as it has a full MPE-compatible virtual keyboard, several touchscreen modes, and the embedded modular Grid is a lot of fun to use when you can control multiple parameters at once.

    Yes, several devs will take a whole long while to upgrade to Apple Silicon. It’s very possible that many plugins will effectively become abandonware on the Mac. That’s the way #MusicTech works. How long ago did VST3 become a thing? Some DAWs still struggle to support it. And, as you’ve said, some people cling to 32-bit plugins. (I think SynthEdit and Krakli plugins based on it are eventually adding 64-bit support. The fact that it’s such a slow process is quite distinctive about the audio plugin world.)

    It might make a whole lot of sense to keep a legacy machine around, especially since Apple has been unbelievably stingy on ports (at least, while Ive had his way). As someone’s first “music computer”, an Apple Silicon MacBook could be a bit of a challenge.
    Although… If it’s someone’s first machine, it means they don’t have legacy apps to worry about. We keep talking about constraints as a way to be creative. Give someone a powerful computer, give them Xcode and some motivation to be among the first people to know how to develop unencumbered plugins… and listen to what they do.

    New chip architecture, some forward-facing plugin formats, MIDI 2.0 specs, neat example of MPE software & hardware, opportunities to develop for (ARM-based) embedded platforms… Something’s gotta come outta that!

  7. So apple is trying to do what microsoft did years ago and failed (the same software for phones, tablets and computers). They will probably fail as well, as the return to their own hardware will make them even more expensive. Good luck adopting a road full of bumps, where apple will abandon ideas and software whenever they wish.

    1. “So apple is trying to do what microsoft did years ago and failed (the same software for phones, tablets and computers”

      Apple has run the same underlying OS for all of its devices for a decade – iPhones, iPads, Macs, etc. You can already take an app and easily compile it to run on any of the three.

      Apple was smart enough to get the UI’s right for each device, though, which is what Microsoft whiffed on. This is also the biggest challenge for developers to get right on Apple’s various platforms.

  8. What does speculation about a manufacturer whose products have not been useful to musicians for years now have to do with synthesizers?

      1. This is exactly the point! For a day job I work in film and TV and everything is Mac except perhaps the accounting departments. It simply comes down to ROI between a Mac system or PC system in the audio and video world. You will get longer life out of your Mac with more reliability. Someone can argue and nitpick all they want but when you run a business ROI and reliability are paramount. I used to build my PCs but eventually I just wanted a machine that worked and lasted long enough between investment cycles. For work I cannot have any downtime messing around with my hardware. Macs have simply proven to be more reliable and cost effective.

        This new direction is exciting because 1) You will have greater software similarity and compatibilty across various hardware. It’s expected that software developers will love this because development time and cost will be reduced while opening up more income avenues. 2) More power for the energy used meaning longer battery life and no cooling necessary on most portable machines. It’ll be interesting to see what they will do in scaling this silicon to desktops. Win situation for all except those that don’t get it.

    1. You are kidding? Apples products are generally superuseful for musicians. Which is why iMacs and MacBook Pros are in millions of studios and iPads and its thousands of musicapps are just getting better and better.

  9. Not sure why laptops in general are still useful, since there’s nowhere to take the bloody thing. I haven’t taken my laptop from the house since March, so my next machine will be a desktop or Mac mini. Laptops have become as redundant as samplers or sound modules. They’re expensive, cumbersome, underspec and the hardware integration make ‘m impossible to repair.

    1. My music setup isn’t at the same desk I use for work. A laptop is far easier to move between rooms. That said, I’d like a powerful new Mac mini at a very competitive price.

    2. My city is effectively in total lockdown, except for working purposes. I’m still in production & moving across town between different theatres 2-3 times per week, and my laptop is essential for that. I’ve got no plans to lug even a mac mini (and keyboard and mouse and monitor) on my bicycle–not to mention wasted time in setup. I think I’m not alone on that, and restrictions on movement are probably less difficult in most parts of the world. Laptops aren’t going anywhere.

  10. Ive got a 2018 imac in my office and a 2005 apple quad core g5 in my studio (its a tape machine), both can handle a 16 channel audio interface and both record and sound the same. Apple are at the top of the pyramid of companies that drip feed tech into the market, and its the gullible that fall for trying to spend to keep up. If you dont bother trying to keep up, youll realise youre not actually missing out on anything,

  11. Time marches on.

    I don’t want to be running Windows, MacOS, or Linux in 10 years.

    I don’t want to run out of memory, disk space, or bandwidth anymore. Especially bandwidth.

    Someone, anyone, do something NEW. Von Neumann has hit the wall.

  12. Windows/Intel users will be left behind. Apple has the volume advantage and is already making more cost effective and energy efficient chips.

    1. My experience is that Apple battery life has gotten very good.

      It used to be that I’d start seeing battery life degrading at a year or a year and a half. But we’ve got iPads going back to gen 1, Macbook Pros going back to 2015, a couple of 2-year old iPhones and an Apple Watch gen 1 and none of them have had enough battery degradation to justify replacing.

      This is better than the experience I’ve seen with our Windows laptops (HP Elitebook).

      I’ve heard that batteries are essentially not replaceable in AirPods, so I’ve avoided them. But on their other devices, the batteries are pretty reliable.

  13. The M1 looks promising, but clearly Apple was very vague about its performance comparisons. Third parties will have to fill in the blanks on what the M1 can really do. Also have to compare performance with native apps vs ones that require Rosetta 2 emulation. I thought the loss of two thunderbolt ports on the 13 inch Macbook Pro was very disappointing. Fanelss Macbook Air gives me pause of potential throttling like with Macbook 12″. Not a big deal for most buying a MBA but a consideration if you plan to do intensive task. Of course no option to buy third party RAM in any of these models even Mac Mini. Apple will control all the memory upgrades. All in all not thrilled and no mention of ever running Windows again on these Apple silicon models.

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