M4 chip releases will probably have an AI focus


Apple’s M3 chip family

Apple’s next generation M4 Apple Silicon, is expected to arrive before the end of 2024, and is rumored to have a greater focus on AI than ever before.

Barely half a year after the introduction of the M3 generation and ahead of the likely launch of the M3 Ultra chip at WWDC, rumors are circulating about the M4 generation. It is now claimed that Apple is not only preparing to start the manufacture of the new chips, but it will also be a heavily AI-focused release.

The M4 generation is claimed to be nearing production, people with knowledge of the chip said to Bloomberg. There will allegedly be three main varieties launched, codenamed Donan, Brava, and Hidra. These are likely the core M4 chip for Donan, the Brava is said to be the M4 Pro and M4 Max, with the Hidra rumored to be destined for the Mac Pro.

For these chip launches, Apple is apparently going to highlight the AI processing capabilities of the next generation and their integration with macOS during WWDC.

Gurman doesn’t offer exactly what will change with the chips, save for upping the memory on the top-end Hidra chip to support up to half a terabyte of memory.

The most plausible way for Apple to make its chips more AI-centric is to make changes to the Neural Engine, or add more cores. Apple’s Neural Engine is an element designed to assist with machine learning-accelerated tasks.

In February, reports said the M4 and A18 processors will have more AI computing cores, which would seemingly mean the Neural Engine.

Gurman’s report is plausible, but other than codenames, it’s easily derivable by educated guesses. It’s obvious that Apple will be working on an M4 chip, and a move to an annual cycle would help increase the rate of upgrades for its Mac hardware lineup with consumers.

The move to three chips may echo the M3 launch sequence Apple used, bringing out the M3 alongside the Pro and Max varieties at the same time instead of spreading apart the releases across the year. However, Apple making only three chips for M4 would be a departure from the established range of four chip tiers.

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