Apple Introduces M4 SoC in New iPad Pro Models

Kudos to Mark Gurman — Apple really did introduce the M4 SoC in the new iPad Pro models. The M4 comes just six months after Apple launched the M3, which is currently used in half the Mac lineup. The other half — the Mac Mini, the Mac Studio, and the Mac Pro — all use processors in the M2 family. Two of those models were only just launched at WWDC last year.

None of this makes sense to anybody outside of Apple. Perhaps it is not supposed to: any given processor is perhaps good enough that you do not need to worry. But Apple itself set up this comparison when it decided to use the same processors in iPads and Macs, and name them to clearly show which ones are newer. I am sure there are legitimate and plentiful performance improvements in each generation of new processors but it is a dizzying set of choices from a buyer’s perspective. Maybe there will be updates to the three Mac desktops at WWDC this year.

Update: Jason Snell, Six Colors:

Why the M4 now? It mostly has to do with Apple shifting chip production at TSMC (the company that fabs Apple’s chips) from the first-generation 3nm process to a new, more efficient second-generation 3nm process. There’s a whole backstory about TSMC’s change in 3nm processes that’s not worth getting into here, but suffice it to say that the first-generation process is largely a dead end, and the company is moving to a new set of 3nm processes.

That is the kind of backstory I would be interested in. However, as I wrote above, this is the kind of explanation which is logical for Apple but produces a confusing result for the rest of us.