Opinion | Apple’s New Microchip Could Transform Computing – The New York Times

Supported by
Farhad Manjoo

Opinion Columnist
For decades, the chip-making giant Intel reigned as one of the most technically advanced companies in Silicon Valley.
It was Intel’s co-founder Gordon Moore who famously predicted that computer chips would keep getting unimaginably more powerful. And it was Intel’s products, the x86 line of microprocessors at the heart of just about every personal computer, that turned Moore’s prophecy into a governing “law” of tech. The promise that every year, Intel’s new chips would be much faster than its old chips set the rhythm for advances across the entire industry.
But somewhere in the past decade, Intel lost the plot. It was blindsided by new trends — the rising utility of graphics processors, the widespread adoption of mobile devices — and beset by a series of embarrassing operational delays. Even more surprising than Intel’s slippage has been which company has come to succeed it as the pacesetter of processors. Meeting with employees early this year, Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s incoming chief executive at the time, was reluctant even to speak the enemy’s name — according to The Oregonian, he jokingly referred to the new chip champion only as “a lifestyle company in Cupertino.”
Cupertino, Calif., of course, is the home of Apple, whose focus on design, aesthetics and usability has often left it vulnerable to Gelsinger’s implication that its products are more fashionable than capable. But last month, Apple unveiled laptops built around its own custom-designed processors, the M1 Pro and M1 Max, that have rendered such digs completely ridiculous.
Early reviews for Apple’s new machines have been so rapturous — “the most powerful laptops we’ve ever seen,” “dramatically better than they have any business” being, “just generally absurd” — that I worried I’d only be let down when I got my hands on one and it proved to be as frustrating as all computers inevitably are.
I have not been let down. I’ve been bowled over. I’ve been using a new MacBook Pro with Apple’s fastest new chip, the M1 Max, for about two weeks, and I can’t remember the last time a laptop has wowed me like this. Actually, I don’t think a laptop has ever really wowed me, because it’s just a laptop.
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