The M1 is Apple’s first “System on a Chip” for the Mac, and it integrates several different components including the CPU, GPU, unified memory architecture (RAM), Neural Engine, Secure Enclave, SSD controller, image signal processor, encode/decode engines, Thunderbolt controller with USB 4 support, and more, all of which power the different features in the Mac.
The M1 chip is the most powerful chip that Apple has created to date, and it is similar to the A14 chip in the latest iPhone and iPad Air models, built on a 5-nanometer process by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). It features an 8-core CPU with four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. The high-performance cores are designed to offer the best performance for power-intensive single-threaded tasks, while the four high-efficiency cores are available for tasks that don’t require as much power, such as web browsing. This is what gives M1 Macs incredible battery life.
There’s also an 8-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine, and in comparison to Intel Macs, the M1 chip is Apple’s fastest ever chip in terms of single-core performance. It’s also more powerful than the Intel chips used in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, and performance is close to many desktop machines.