Apple’s New M4 Chip Is Expected to Be All About AI

Apple’s New M4 Chip Is Expected to Be All About AI

Apple’s line of M3 Macs is basically brand new. The company kicked things off in October with the M3 MacBook Pro and iMac, then refreshed the MacBook Air with M3 last month. But Apple apparently doesn’t rest: The company is reportedly preparing to refresh the entire Mac lineup—including their desktop and notebook machines—with the M4 chip. Why? AI, of course.

This news comes to us from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, whose sources claim Apple is gearing up to start producing the next line of Apple silicon devices for each and every Mac. Like previous generations of M-series chips, Apple is planning on at least three tiers for M4. The company has fun codenames for each: Donan, the entry-level M4; Brava, the mid-level M4; and Hidra, the high-end M4. If Apple sticks to its previous name conventions, you could reasonably expect Apple to call these M4, M4 Pro, and M4 Max.

Apple is planning on adding these chips to different Mac products: The Donan will likely end up in the MacBook Air, iMac, base model MacBook Pro, and base-model Mac mini. The Brava will likely run in beefier versions of the MacBook Pro and Mac mini. (Apple is reportedly testing the Brava chip in the Mac Studio versus an unreleased M3 chip.) The Hidra will be reserved for the Mac Pro, the most powerful Mac Apple makes. Apple may even bump up the maximum RAM on the highest-end Macs to 500GB (192GB is the max right now).

All that said, we don’t actually know how powerful these chips will be. Apple silicon’s year-over-year performance gains are usually modest, since each iteration of the M-series is impressive in its own right. That might be different this year, however: Apple is largely expected to announce a host of new AI features during WWDC in June. The company will likely want these Macs to be as well-tuned as possible for powering these AI features, as they’ll want to make as big a splash in the AI space as they can.

Apple is famously behind in generative AI: Aside from some small features powered by AI, the company has almost totally kept out of this emerging tech, one of the last big tech companies to do so. If it wants to catch up and catch up fast, it’ll need to wow us with whatever new features it plans to unveil across its products this year. Having Macs with AI-designed chips would go a long way in that—even if some of those AI features might be powered by Google’s AI tech. It may even boost Mac sales: If consumers think M4 is marketably better than what came before, Apple could see improved numbers after sales fell 27% last fiscal year.

All that said, I can’t imagine Apple will abandon its existing M-series lineups for M4. These chips are still fantastic, and I still recommend the M1 MacBook Air for most people. Unless the company plans a total diversion in favor of boosting its AI potential, I bet M4 will be more of a show of commitment towards AI than a Mac revolution. Sure, buy an M4 if you want to take the most advantage of Apple’s new AI features, but if you have an M1, M2, or M3, I’m guessing you’ll be able to use the new features as well.

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