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Apple did the unthinkable with the new M4 chip

Apple introducing the new M4 chip.

Apple is doing something crazy with its new M4 chip. Although we’re used to seeing new Apple silicon debut in Macs, Apple is bringing the M4 chip to the new iPad Pro first. The updated chip, which comes with an entirely new CPU architecture, builds on the GPU found in the M3 chip with ray tracing, mesh shading, and Apple’s special Dynamic Cache.

With the M4, Apple says the new iPad Pro can deliver the same performance as a thin-and-light PC while using only a quarter of the power. That’s due in no small part to the 3nm architecture the chip uses. The power envelope, according to Apple’s claims, is all the more impressive considering the iPad Pro doesn’t have any active cooling.

The M4 includes a 10-core CPU and 10-core GPU. The CPU is broken up into four performance (P) cores and six efficient (E) cores, and Apple says it’s able to deliver 50% faster CPU performance compared to the M2. The GPU is even more impressive. Apple says it delivers a 4x increase in performance compared to the M2, and with plenty of new features in tow.

Someone using the new M4 iPad Pro with a creator app.

Mesh shading and ray tracing are big additions. With them, you’ll be able to play games like Diablo Immortal with much greater fidelity. Even more impressive is Apple’s Dynamic Caching. This is an essential feature on Apple’s M3, as it allows the GPU to dynamically allocate memory in real time. Instead of pooling memory together, Dynamic Caching uses the exact amount of memory a task needs, freeing up the unused memory for other tasks.

As expected, Apple made a big deal about the Neural Engine in the M4 as well. The 16-core engine can deliver 38 TOPS (trillions of operations per second), which Apple says is 60 times faster than its first Neural Engine. That’s more powerful than any AI PC currently available. Although both Intel and AMD have NPUs inside their latest chips, the M4 in the iPad Pro has more AI processing power.

Specifications for Apple's M4 chip.

All of these advantages come together to create a chip that is significantly faster, according to Apple. Overall, the M4 iPad Pro is 10 times faster than the original iPad Pro, according to Apple, and it’s able to handle four times as many streams in ProRes RAW as the M2 iPad Pro.

Although it’s great seeing a new addition to Apple’s silicon lineup, it’s strange to see it debut in an iPad. This is the first time Apple is introducing a new chip to its lineup in a device other than of a Mac. We’ll likely see updates to the Mac lineup with the M4 soon, possibly at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) that’s taking place in June.

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Jacob Roach
Lead Reporter, PC Hardware
Jacob Roach is the lead reporter for PC hardware at Digital Trends. In addition to covering the latest PC components, from…
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