What Is Apple Silicon?

Apple’s choice to integrate its own custom processor chips into its Mac computers instead of using Intel’s processor chips has made waves in the computer world because it has been used for decades. Apple’s own processor is called the Apple silicon, similar to the chips used in the iPhone and iPad.

Next, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about Apple silicon, how they compare to Intel processors, and how the company plans to take the entire Mac product line off Intel chips.

What Are Apple Silicon Chips in Macs?

Apple has been using Intel’s third-party processor chips in its Macs for decades. This makes sense because Intel is a leading processor manufacturer with over 72% of the CPU processor market share. However, due to supply chain and performance issues, Apple decided to develop its own processor chip for its Mac computers, called Apple silicon chips.

Apple silicon chips are ARM-based, which means they use a different chip architecture than Intel’s computer processors. ARM chips are more commonly used in mobile devices, such as Android devices, iPhones, etc. Apple already has experience developing ARM chips for the iPhone and iPad, so it decided to design an ARM-based Mac silicon chip.

This gives Apple full control over all aspects of the processor, including power efficiency, performance, and more. Similarly, it could more closely integrate the iPhone and Mac ecosystems, as both now run on similar processor chips.

Apple’s first silicon chips are the Late 2020 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro called the M1 chip. This represents the first transition from Intel chips.


Subsequently, the company went on to introduce Apple silicon chips in almost every other Mac. Apple later introduced upgraded versions of silicon chips, namely M1 Pro, Max, Ultra, and M2 chips. These are all updated iterations of the original Apple Silicon M1 processor, with various performance upgrades.

Why did Apple switch to silicon chips?

Apple faced performance limitations and supply chain issues with Intel chips, which led it to develop its own ARM-based chips. Since Apple now has full control over the chip, it can optimize its design to provide a better performance, increase efficiency, and reduce power consumption. This, in turn, leads to better performance and longer battery life.

A typical Intel PC has independent components inside, such as CPU, GPU, RAM, etc. These parts can be sourced from different companies, which allows users to do more customization according to their own needs.

Apple’s silicon chips, by contrast, combine all of these components on a single chip, powering all the different functions on your Mac. This system-on-chip allows Apple’s silicon processors to deliver better efficiency. It’s also important to note that these Apple silicon chips are only intended for Apple devices.

Are Apple silicon chips better than Intel processors?

Apple has years of experience developing high-efficiency ARM chips, and all of its iPhone and iPad chips are powered by Apple’s own custom silicon chips. Therefore, it is not surprising that the performance of the Mac silicon chip is better than Intel’s counterparts, and the performance of the Mac has been greatly improved.


There are various benchmarks available to compare the performance of Apple silicon chips and various Intel processors. However, real-world performance is what users usually care about.

A quick comparison robots.net shows that the M1 chip in the MacBook Air converts a 4K video to 1080p in just over 9 minutes. In contrast, the XPS 13 Intel processor takes more than 18 minutes to perform the same task, and the Yoga 9i takes more than 14 minutes. While this doesn’t represent every case, it provides an overarching concept of Apple’s silicon chips with higher performance and efficiency.

One area where silicon chips still seem to lack is multi-core performance, as higher-end Intel processors typically have more cores at their disposal. However, this only makes sense if you’re running power-intensive tasks, such as rendering 4K animations.

After switching to its own chip, Apple can release updates according to its own schedule and make more regular technical improvements.

Application compatibility on Apple Silicon Mac

As Apple decided to transition from Intel chips to its custom silicon chips, applications need to be updated to take advantage of the new technology. However, to help users and app developers in the transition phase, Apple introduced Rosetta emulation on its Mac.

Rosetta emulation allows older applications to function properly on Apple silicon computers without the need to rewrite for ARM chips. This means that almost all applications work as before. However, applications using Rosetta cannot take advantage of the improved performance on silicon chips until the developer updates them.


Rosetta gave developers time to update their applications on silicon chips, which led to a significant increase in performance. In applications like Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Photoshop, the difference is noticeable, with new versions running much faster than before (up to 80% better performance compared to Intel’s peers).

Basically, all the applications that used to run on Intel Macs will also run on Apple Silicon Macs. However, if they haven’t been updated by the manufacturer, they may not be able to benefit from the improved performance of the new chip.

The future of Apple computers

With the exception of the Mac Pro, Apple has transitioned most of all of its Mac computers to silicon chips. The company is updating its processors every year, starting with the M1 chips in the 2020 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, and then launching the M1 Max and M1 Pro along with the M2 chips in recent releases.

As Apple transitions to an all-silicon lineup, the Intel Mac has a limited longevity. The company is bound to stop software updates to Intel Macs soon. The recently released macOS includes some features that are only available on Apple chip Macs. This includes real-time text, improved dictation, FaceTime portrait mode, object capture, and more.

So, if you want to buy a new Mac, it’s a wise decision to consider a silicon Mac for long-term compatibility, not an Intel Mac, which may be a little cheaper but may soon lose support.