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Intel hits back at Apple M1 with questionable references



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Apple finally proved its reputation last year when it launched its custom M1 processor in new MacBooks and Mac Mini. Early standards showed that the Apple M1 beat the competition in most ways that matter, but now Intel has regrouped and released a slideshow (because of course it has it) that compares the M1 with Intel’s latest Core laptop processor.

Apple M1 takes advantage of all the experience Apple has had with making smartphone and tablet ARM chips, but the performance has been completely impaired. There are eight CPU cores in the M1, four high-performance Firestorm and four energy-efficient Icestorm cores. These designs are all completely customizable – no rebranded ARM Cortex reference design a la Qualcomm. It’s also an Apple-designed 8-core GPU. The M1 reportedly has excellent performance, and it uses about a third of the power of Intel processors.

Intel gave up ARM many years ago, and may regret it. In any case, the company has published references that aim to show that the i7-1185G7 chip has more raw power than the M1. Some of the numbers look good for Intel. Most of the numbers from Chrome, Office, Photoshop and other tests show Intel in the lead, but it is important to note that several of these references use Intel’s hardware acceleration technology.

Intel also gave an overview of gaming performance, but here the numbers were kinder to Apple. The M1 victories with games like Hitman and Borderlands 3, but this slide is really only here to show how many games are not running on the M1. It’s an equally suspicious battery life test – while all previous tests used a MacBook Pro M1, the battery life test switched to a MacBook Air M1, which only outperformed the Intel-based laptop for a few minutes. The MacBook Pro M1 is known to last longer than Intel-based computers.

The slide show also includes some debate about form factors and variation, which is more valid than the reference argument, in my opinion. The MacBook is limited by Apple’s vision, but there are PCs in all different shapes and sizes, and some of them have touch screens. Apple still refuses to add that feature to its laptops.

Intel still has some things to shout about, but that list could be reduced as Apple launches improved M1 chips. This was just the first sweep of ARM-based computers, and it seems to be going pretty well. Intel may be looking at much stronger competition in the coming years.

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