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Apple's M4 chip brings the power of AI and console-quality graphics to the iPad Pro

Your iPad Pro's storage capacity determines the power of the M4 chip you'll get.

Published onMay 7, 2024

  • Apple announced the M4 chip that’s powering its latest iPad Pro lineup.
  • The chip features a powerful new CPU with up to 10 cores and Apple’s fastest Neural Engine to date.
  • It comes with a 10-core GPU and hardware-accelerated graphics features, such as ray tracing.

Today, Apple announced its newest chip, the M4, powering the latest iPad Pro models. The M4 is built using second-generation 3-nanometer technology and promises significant gains in performance and power efficiency compared to Apple’s previous chips.

The M4‘s CPU features a new configuration of up to 10 cores, promising up to 1.5x faster processing speeds compared to the M2 chip used in the previous iPad Pro generation.

Notably, the full 10-core CPU (with four performance cores and six efficiency cores) is exclusive to the 1TB and 2TB iPad Pro models. The base 256GB and 512GB models feature a 9-core CPU version of the M4 (with three performance cores and six efficiency cores) alongside half the RAM at 8GB.

The M4 also boasts a new 10-core GPU based on the architecture used in previous M3 chips. It incorporates Apple’s Dynamic Caching technology, which the company claims will optimize graphics performance.

Additionally, new hardware-accelerated features like ray tracing and mesh shading aim to bring more realistic graphics capabilities and complex rendering to the iPad Pro.

Apple highlights substantial advancements in on-device AI with the M4 chip. It features the most powerful Neural Engine in an iPad to date, capable of performing trillions of operations per second.

This should lead to faster and more advanced AI-powered features within iPadOS and third-party applications. The company also emphasizes the M4’s increased power efficiency, which should contribute to longer battery life and reduced environmental impact.

Alongside these core improvements, Apple has designed a new display engine within the M4 to take full advantage of the iPad Pro’s Ultra Retina XDR display. This technology focuses on delivering accurate colors, exceptional brightness, and consistent image quality.

While the internals of the iPad Pro continue to improve with each generation, I can’t help but wonder if iPadOS itself has become a bottleneck for the series. The operating system still lacks features like true multi-window multitasking for all apps, deeper file system access, etc. These limitations can hinder workflows that demand a more traditional PC-like experience.

That being said, for creative professionals seeking a powerful device for photo editing, video production, or music creation, the new iPad Pro with the M4 chip certainly delivers impressive capabilities.

We expect the M4 chip to make its way to more Apple products, starting with new MacBooks, which are expected later this year.

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