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Apple debuts bleeding-edge M4 processor in new iPad Pro

Apple M4Image: Apple

Apple’s new iPad Pro is powered by the M4 processor, skipping the M3 entirely. Apple has never debuted an M-series processor in a product other than the Mac, so the launch of this new processor in the iPad Pro is an unexpected surprise.

The M4 is made on an enhanced 3nm process and contains over 28 billion transistors and has the following advanced features in the iPad Pro:

Up to 4 high-performance CPU cores with improved branch prediction and wider decode and execution engines.6 high-efficiency CPU cores with improved branch prediction and a deeper execution engine.10-core GPU built on the same architecture as M3, with dynamic caching, mesh shaders, and ray tracing acceleration.16-core Neural Engine delivering over 38 trillion operations per second.

Apple

Apple says the CPU is up to 50 percent faster than the M2 found in the previous iPad Pro, which means it’s somewhere around 20-25 percent faster than the CPU in the M3. The GPU is said to be up to four times faster than that in the M2, though that might be a “best case” scenario that uses lots of ray tracing. The Neural Engine is the fastest in any Apple product, but just barely—the A17 Pro in the iPhone 15 Pro can do 35 trillion operations per second, according to Apple.

Apple says the M4 has a memory bandwidth of 120GB/sec, up from 100GB/sec in both the M2 and M3. There’s also a new display engine to handle the “Tandem OLED” display and updated video processing with support for H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and AV1.

When it comes to power efficiency, Apple says the M4 uses no more power than the M2 and can deliver the same performance using only half the power, and the same performance as a thin and light PC with one-fourth the power (Apple used an ASUS Zenbook 14 OLED with Core Ultra 7 155H for that comparison).

However, if you want the full version of the M4, you’ll need to get at least 1TB of storage. Models with 256GB or 512GB of storage will have a 9-core M4 chip with 3 performance cores and 6 efficiency cores, while 1TB or 2TB models get a 10-core CPU with one extra performance core.

In iPad Pro models with 256GB or 512GB of storage, the M4 will have 8GB of RAM. In those with 1TB or 2TB of storage, it will have 16GB. So that remains unchanged from the M2.

It’s not clear when the M4 will make its way to the Mac, but with the M3 MacBook Air only arriving in March and the MacBook Pro models making their debut in November, it’s likely the first laptops won’t roll out until later this year. However, it’s possible that the Mac mini, Studio, and Pro, which are still using M2 chips, get an M4 refresh sooner than that.

This article originally appeared on Macworld.com.

I have written about technology for my entire professional life – over 25 years. I enjoy learning about how complicated technology works and explaining it in a way anyone can understand.

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