London, Hong Kong, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – January 20, 2022
Global PC shipments reached 90.3 million in Q4 2021 to maintain their YoY growth momentum at 3.1%, coming on a relatively high base in 2020. The situation on the component supply and logistic fronts continued to improve but at a slow pace. The shipment forecast for Q1 2022 remains optimistic, mainly due to a solid demand and improving component supply. OEMs and ODMs are also expecting some easing of pressure on PC components.
In Q4 2021, the supply gap for the most important PC components, such as power management IC, Wi-Fi and I/O interface IC, narrowed. We believe both OEMs and ODMs will continue to accumulate component inventory to cope with uncertainties cropping from COVID-19. Therefore, we do not see any big risk to PC shipment numbers due to supply backlogs.
Global PC Shipments by Vendor, Q4 2021
Lenovo continued to lead the global PC market in Q4 2021 with a 24% share, slightly shy of its share in Q4 2020 but still having its highest unit sales in 2021 at 21.7 million. HP took a 20.5% share with 1% YoY growth driven by the easing of component shortage. Dell posted a 15% YoY growth in the quarter riding on the strong momentum from its commercial/premium product strategy. Apple’s shipments in Q4 2021 remained largely unchanged thanks to the M1 Macbook’s success. On the other hand, Asus saw a single-digit YoY growth in Q4, while Acer saw a single-digit YoY decline with market shares of 6.8% and 6.7%, respectively.
Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.
The MacBook Pro 16 features a 16.2-inch edge-to-edge display with a 120Hz refresh rate.
It is powered by M1 Pro or M1 Max SoCs with up to 64GB unified memory depending on the configuration you choose.
Apple has added more ports and support for 140W fast charging using a MagSafe connector.
Apple revamped its high-end MacBook Pro notebooks with a refreshing new design, faster chipsets, better display, and much more. Offered in 14-inch and 16-inch models with prices starting at $1,999, the new notebooks are now on sale, although with limited stocks. We picked up the 16-inch MacBook Pro base model which starts at $2,499, and here are our first impressions.
Unboxing Experience and In-box Contents
Just like the iPhone 13 series, the new MacBook Pros also gets new box packaging, which eliminates the plastic wrap. The back of the box has an adhesive paper tab with the tear-off strip. In a way, the lid cannot come off from the box until it is opened. As it is made from 100% recycled materials, the packaging ensures reducing environmental impact while also offering a nice unboxing experience.
Inside the box, you have the MacBook Pro 16 in a thin paper wrap, a 140W charging brick, and a MagSafe cable. It is Apple’s first GaN charger, which supports charging at 140W. The cable has a Type-C connector on one end, which goes in the charging brick, and the other end has a MagSafe connector. The cable has a braided finish and looks very sturdy. Though, I wish it was in black to not look dirty as it attracts dust over time.
Watch:Apple MacBook Pro 16 with M1 Pro SoC: Unboxing and First Impressions
TouchBar is Gone, MagSafe and SD Card Slot is On
Just like the Time Machine feature that lets you back up your Mac and restore it to the previous state in case something goes wrong, Apple’s move is something similar. After ditching MagSafe, SD Card slot, and introducing a TouchBar nearly five years ago, Apple has now gone back in time to roll back all these to how things were before.
No, you do not get the USB Type-A port back, but the SD card slot and the HDMI port are back. For charging, you can use MagSafe to charge at 140W, or you can also charge using any of the Type-C ports using a PD (power delivery) adapter, but at slower speeds.
The new keyboard feels nice and has good key travel too. The new full-height physical function keys also bring shortcuts to control music playback and volume, enable quick dictation, Spotlight Search, and more. I’m writing the first impressions on the MacBook Pro 16 itself, and the experience is pretty good.
Bright and Vivid Display, Crisp and Loud Audio
Apple switched to mini-LED displays for its iPads which brings certain benefits both from viewing and energy-saving point of view. With hundreds and thousands of dimming zones, the display offers better contrast and black levels like OLED screens. The screen also offers better brightness (up to 1600 nits), which is amazing, especially considering that even smartphones like Galaxy S21 Ultra have 1500 nits peak brightness. They need it for good legibility under direct sunlight, but as the MacBook Pros are built for on-the-go content creators, having super bright display makes sense.
Apple says that the screen can offer sustained brightness of 1000 nits, and while I could not test the claims, the screen does look better. And with LiquidRetina XDR and ProMotion tech (where it can automatically adjust refresh rate between 24Hz to 120Hz), the screen offers vivid color reproduction. In this limited time, I did watch a few episodes of a TV show and some music videos, and I’m impressed so far.
But it’s not just the screen, now there is a notch too, which houses a 1080p web camera. Apple says that the notch is a “smart way” to offer users more screen real estate, where the notch area accommodates the menu bar, while still giving you a full 16:9 aspect ratio screen. It sure does offer more screens, but apps need to be updated to optimize the space wisely.
The speakers on the MacBook Pro 16 are terrific, offering clear audio, and they can get super loud. These are some of the loudest I have heard on a laptop to date. There are four woofers and two tweeters, together with Dolby Atmos offer a room-filling surround sound experience.
Snappy Performance, While Being Highly Efficient
My MacBook Pro 16 unit is a base model as I mentioned above, which comes with M1 Pro SoC, 16GB of unified memory (RAM), and 512GB SSD. I do see a performance difference over Windows laptops, with app opening times being faster for sure. On my Windows laptop powered by 10th gen Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, opening programs like Adobe Rush CC takes nearly 40 seconds. The same on the new M1 Pro MacBook took about eight seconds.
To test the video rendering performance, I shot the unboxing and first impressions video of MacBook Pro, a total of over five minutes clip after editing. After adding voice-over, music, and transitions, rendering took a little less than seven minutes, whereas the same on Intel-based Windows laptops took 33 minutes.
But one of the most impressive feats of the new MacBook Pros is how well the SoCs have been optimized for efficient battery life. To put things into perspective, I charged the MacBook Pro to 100 percent yesterday, after which I listened to music for two hours on 80% volume, then binged watched a series for two hours, some internet surfing, Teams calls, did video editing, which took about two hours, and then around two hours writing these first impressions. With all this usage and screen time of over nine hours, I will have 40% battery left, which is crazy good. I will test more over the next few months to see how the notebook performs in day-to-day usage and talk more in my in-depth review.
The new MacBook Pros promise powerful performance with crazy long battery life.
With an SD card slot, big and vivid display, the 16-inch MacBook Pro could be the content creator’s go-to laptop.
Loud and powerful speakers also make notebooks good for multimedia content consumption.
Benefitting from its accumulated know-how, Apple quickly swept the PC market with the launch of M1-based Macs. While the M1 was designed for entry-level Macs, the M1 Pro and M1 Max, launched on October 18, are meant for advanced Macs.
Instead of the Ax chips for iPhones, Apple’s most advanced processors will be from the M series for PCs. Ax will inherit the features and innovations of the M series and become a customized version for iPhones.
Apple’s services revenue has been growing steadily since 2016, accounting for 21.5% of the total revenue in Q2 2021. The new Mac models will also aid in this growth. Content creation and games will be the driving forces in the coming years.
The memory architecture of Apple Silicon is one of the key features that distinguish it from other ARM SoCs and will alter future SoC designs for PCs and servers. It can increase performance-to-power ratios while lowering system costs.
Following up on our May coverage of Apple’s M1 SoC introduction, we look at the benefits and downsides of the new M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs, released on October 18 along with the updated MacBook Pros carrying these SoCs. These launches come around one year after the introduction of the M1 Mac.
Apple has mastered both its software (OS and APP) and hardware system architectures, thanks to its years of experience in designing RISC SoCs for its smartphones and tablets. The success of the M1, Apple’s first high-performance SoC for entry-level Macs, prompted the company to accelerate the development of more advanced SoCs.
Unlike Intel’s general-purpose processors, which can be used in different notebook models and brands, Apple’s M1 series SoCs are an ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) that can be only used in Apple-designed PCs. The M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs have more high-performance cores. However, the number of high-efficiency cores is reduced to two from the M1’s four. Both are made by TSMC’s 5nm technology.
Comparing M1 Pro, M1 Max, M1 and A15
Apple did not share any information about the new CPU core or frequency. According to information presented by TSMC at the 26th Technology Symposium, the N5P is 5% faster and 10% more energy efficient than the N5, although the transistor density has not improved as a result. The M1 Pro and M1 Max, according to Apple, have a transistor of 33.7 billion and 57 billion, respectively. As a result, the die size of the M1 Pro and M1 Max will be close to 251.3 mm2 and 425.1mm2, respectively. Both have broken die size and transistor count records for Apple’s products.
This evolution of the M series chips is in line with Apple’s processor development strategy. Working closely with TSMC, Apple will see significant chip improvements every two years. In addition to the Ax chips for smartphones, Apple also created M series chips for PCs in 2020, with the goal of replacing all Intel CPUs with Apple Silicon within two years. The SoC architectures in iPhones, and iPads and Macs are similar but the Mx for PC has more cores and larger cache memory. In other words, Apple’s latest and most advanced processor will be the Mx for PCs instead of the Ax for smartphones. Ax will inherit the features and innovations of the Mx and become its customized version.
SLC (system-level cache)
From the die shots of both the M1 Pro and M1 Max from Apple, the SLC is estimated to reach 48MB and 96MB, much larger than the 32MB of the A15 Bionic and the 24MB of the M1. Apple has boosted the cache capacity to improve system performance while lowering power consumption at the cost of die size. To enhance system efficiency, this SLC can be shared among multiple SoC subsystems (like CPU and GPU cores). Further, the bigger cache can reduce the frequency with which the SoC accesses DRAM, lowering system power consumption, requirement for DRAM and, in turn, the BOM.
Apple has been expanding its APIs for new applications including gaming, ray tracing and augmented reality/virtual reality. All these applications necessitate SoCs with several cores that communicate and collaborate with one another, as well as huge system caches to improve responsiveness.
GPU is the key to demonstrating the capacity of new chips. The M1 Pro and M1 Max have 16 and 32 GPU cores, respectively. GPUs, unlike CPUs, are made up of a large number of tiny cores. Initially, GPUs were designed to speed up specific 3D graphics operations but they are now capable of rendering increasingly realistic 3D visual effects, such as light tracing. Since the introduction of 3D graphics, light tracing has been one of the most significant advancements in the field of graphics technology. It is also a crucial technique for designing AR/VR/XR scenes. Light tracing, which may be utilized in embedded segments such as mobiles, wearables, gaming and automotive, is now critical to the realism of any 3D environment.
The GPU of the M1 Pro has 16 cores and only 5.2 TFLOP. However, Apple claims that the M1 Pro’s GPU delivers comparable performance within certain power consumption to the discrete GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB while using 70% less power. Counterpoint believes this is due to the SoC’s huge quantity of shared cache in both Level 2 cache and SLC. Furthermore, the GPU can make use of the shared 32GB of LPDDR5, which is significantly more than the RTX 3050’s 4GB of GDDR6.
Ray tracing is a technique that was heavily emphasized at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in 2020 and 2021. At the 2021 WWDC, the training related to its inclusion in gaming accounted for 32.4% of all technological training sessions, making it the top training topic. To fully realize the capabilities of ray tracing, these APIs require GPU support.
The GPU may also be utilized as a more flexible parallel processor, supporting a wide range of AI applications. At the 2017 WWDC, Apple announced Core ML, which allows developers to create tethered applications for Apple devices. GPU support is required for Core ML. Specific applications such as AR, gaming and imaging are among the applications that Apple will emphasize currently and in the near future.
LPDDR5 is used in both the M1 Pro and M1 Max, with bandwidths of 200 GB/s and 400 GB/s, respectively, which are significantly faster than the M1’s 68.2 GB/s. Apple Silicon’s memory architecture is undoubtedly one of its greatest strengths. The M1 Pro and M1 Max share the same UMA to embed high-bandwidth and low-latency DRAM into a single pool within a custom package. Therefore, all cores can retrieve data in the memory simultaneously, and the system can dynamically arrange the precious memory resource. This dramatically improves system performance and reduces the usage of power-hungry DRAM, consequently extending the battery life.
Use cases for M1 Pro and M1 Max
Content creators are undoubtedly the largest target group for the M1 Pro and M1 Max. The M1 series Mac can be supported natively by most video/photo-editing software for Mac. Most third-party software, such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, performs faster with the Rosetta2 compatibility while consuming less power on the M1 Pro and M1 Max.
Game developers are among the M1 Pro and M1 Max’s potential customers. As previously stated, one of the primary sources of revenue for Apple’s store service is games. However, Intel-based Macs were previously seen as unsuitable for playing high-quality games due to their hardware’s inability to meet the demands of gaming, let alone AR/VR/XR games. Classic games will be ported to native ARM architecture thanks to the M1 Pro and M1 Max’s much improved GPU, and it will encourage more developers to do the same. Apple has also provided APIs and training for 3D situations such as light tracing at recent WWDCs. These are essential technologies for game production as well as the construction of AR/VR/XR scenarios.
Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max meet the company’s requirements for a multitasking, high-performance and power-efficient mid-to-high range laptop. According to Counterpoint estimates, Apple Silicon is currently powering 93% of Macs. As new chips are launched, this proportion will continue to grow.
Apple’s new Macs are intended to appeal to a wide range of customers, including content creators, game designers, gamers and early adopters. Apple’s next silicon upgrade is likely to include additional high-performance CPU cores to improve multitasking, more GPU cores to improve the performance of video editing and gaming, and AI training capability.
A detailed report, ‘Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max Macs Review’, will be available by the end of October on our website for paying subscribers.
Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs offer up to 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU and 64GB unified memory.
Apple also announced new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros.
Apple’s October 2021 fall event saw a bunch of new hardware announcements. These include redesigned MacBook Pros, new colors for the HomePod mini smart speaker and the much-awaited TWS, AirPods 3. Apple also announced two new chipsets – M1 Pro and M1 Max – to power the new MacBook Pro notebooks. We a deep dive to talk about the Apple announcement and what it means for both, Apple and its consumers.
M1 Pro, M1 Max SoCs: Supercharged with up to 32 GPU Cores, 64GB Unified Memory
Apple’s ARM-based M1 chip that debuted last year has already proved to be powerful and efficient. Now, building on the M1 architecture, Apple has announced the new M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs. Made on TSMC’s 5nm process, the new SoCs bring up to 70% faster CPU performance over the M1 chip. These SoCs will power the new MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16 models. Let us dive in a little deeper to look at what these new chipsets have to offer.
Starting with the Apple M1 Pro, it comes with up to 10-core CPU, a 16-core GPU and up to 32GB unified memorywith memory bandwidth up to 200GB/s. Higher bandwidth will allow in quickly moving data to and from memory, thus also leading to overall faster performance. The SoC also features 33.7 billion transistors. Now, in the 10-core CPU, there are eight high-performance and two high-efficiency cores.
Along with the 16-core GPU, there is also a media engine that accelerates video processing while consuming less power. The acceleration is also available for the ProRes codec that Apple announced with the new iPhone 13 models. The new chipsets designed for MacBook Pros are aimed at pro users from fields ranging from content, music and movies to app creation.
“Our marketing manager, who also creates graphics and banners, is impressed with the fast and efficient M1-based MacBooks. The new M1 MacBooks show noticeable performance gains, whether you are a normal or power user. Photoshop load times are lightning quick when compared to a PC with similar specifications. It doesn’t even break a sweat when handling heavy image files and offers a stellar battery life.”
Alex Mathew – Graphic Designer & Digital Marketer
The Apple M1 Max SoC builds on the M1 Pro, taking its amazing capabilities even further. While it still comes with the same 10-core CPU, the number of GPU cores is doubled to 32, offering even faster-rendering speeds for videos and other graphics-related tasks. It has four times faster GPU performance compared to the M1 SoC. The M1 Max comes with massive 57 billion transistors and also supports up to 64GB of unified memory, offering up to 400GB/s memory bandwidth. While the M1 Pro supports up to two external displays, the M1 Max chip lets you connect up to four external displays.
“Our software developer who uses an Intel-based MacBook Air says, it gets exhausted when performing CPU-intensive tasks like crunching large numbers or running multiple servers/processes together. A small CPU-heavy script test took 84 seconds to complete on Intel machine. In comparison, the M1 MacBook Air took just 45 seconds, making it better by being faster with such computations. Considering the M1 as a benchmark, the new M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs with higher GPU cores are likely to offer even faster performance for such tasks.”
Adarsh Punj – Data Analytics & Software Developer
Redesigned MacBook Pros: 120Hz Refresh Rate Display, more Physical ports
We had been hearing about redesigned MacBook Pros for a while now, and Apple has finally refreshed the line-up. There are a bunch of new things that the new MacBook Pros bring, making them pro-grade notebooks for content creators. There are two models – a smaller MacBook Pro with a 14.2-inch screen and a bigger one with a 16.2-inch screen. Both are miniLED screens, like what we have seen in the iPad Pro line-up that Apple released earlier this year. These are Liquid Retina XDR displays with an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The ProMotion technology can adjust the refresh rate between 24Hz and 120Hz depending on the screen content, while also saving energy. The screen also supports a peak brightness of 1600 nits.
The new MacBook Pro screens have thin bezels along the top and sides and also come with a notch, just like the iPhones. The notch adds more screen real estate, while also housing a 1080p web camera with a larger image sensor that can offer better low-light performance as well. This is a good addition against the backdrop of working and learning from home, where a lot of video calls need to be taken regularly.
Apple has also added three mics that offer up to 60% lower floor noise. This should greatly help in recording audio or attending to voice/video calls. It doesn’t stop there as the MacBook Pros also come with two tweeters and four force-canceling woofers to offer a great multimedia experience.
Moving on, another big change in the new MacBook Pro line-up is the addition of more ports. The SD card slot is back, and it is a welcome change that photographers and videographers will appreciate. Next, Apple has also added the HDMI port back. So, now you get a total of three USB Type-C ports. The 3.5mm audio jack is still present and it now brings support for high-impedance headphones.
But that’s not all, Apple has brought back the MagSafe connector which now supports faster charging. The base model of the 14-inch MacBook Pro comes with a 67W charging adapter, whereas the higher models come with a 96W adapter. The 16-inch MacBook Pro models, on the other hand, come with a 140W power adapter, which is also Apple’s first GaN charger.
The new MacBooks have also done away with the Touch Bar and come with mechanical function keys. They also include shortcuts for Spotlight, Siri, Dictation and Do Not Disturb. For secure login using biometric authentication, the MacBook Pros come with a Touch ID sensor embedded in the power button.
Coming to the pricing, the new MacBook Pro models start at $1,999 for the 14-inch model. This is a watered-down variant that comes with an M1 Pro chip featuring an 8-core CPU and a 14-core GPU. But the base RAM is 16GB along with 512GB SSD. At $2,499, you can get the one with a 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU and 1TB SSD. If you want a 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Max SoC, you will have to shell out $2,899 for the 24-core GPU model and $3,099 for the 32-core GPU model.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499 for the base model with an M1 Pro 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU. The one with the M1 Max SoC featuring a 32-core GPU costs $3,499. The top-end model with 64GB unified memory and 8TB storage will set you back by $6,099.
No doubt, the new MacBook Pros are expensive as they bring key improvements, from faster processors to better displays and higher resolution cameras among others. These notebooks are designed to attract the pro users looking to ease their workflows and, in turn, bring a better ROI in the long run.
Even for a content creator like me, who uses different programs and apps for tasks like editing podcasts and videos, a powerful notebook that can handle my workflow swiftly is important. This is especially true when editing videos shot in 4K (60fps), where trimming each clip on the timeline and adding music and voice-over along with text should be a smooth experience. Once the editing is done, rendering the video takes a considerable amount of time, and it gets a little frustrating if you want to make the smallest changes to the video and render it again.
During my brief usage, rendering a one-minute 8K video on a Windows-based laptop with the Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM and GeForce MX250 graphics card took over four minutes. The same took less than 40 seconds on a MacBook Air M1 (8K to 4K 60fps). I am looking forward to the new MacBook Pros to see how faster they get at these tasks while improving efficiency.
The MacBook Pros come with “pro pricing” but promise faster performance while lowering power consumption. How well these machines help in making the workflow easier remains to be seen.
The M1 Pro and Max SoCs may be good for content creators and graphic designers but they don’t seem to be designed for hardcore gaming.
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