It’s only been 6 months since Apple launched its first line of Macs and MacBooks powered by the new M3 chip. The MacBook Air M3 models just started shipping last month. Some desktop models haven’t even received the M3 chip upgrade yet.

But rumblings about Apple’s next generation of its Silicon chipset, the M4, have begun.

According to Apple insider Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, Apple is already readying production of the M4, and the company is reportedly placing these chips at the center of Apple’s new refocus on AI capabilities.

What we know about the M4 chip so far

Apple fans are now used to multiple iterations of Apple’s Silicon chipset each year, and the same thing looks to be the case with the M4.

According to Gurman, the entry-level M4 chip is currently codenamed Donan and it would be found in Apple’s entry-level computers. This would include the base Mac mini and MacBook Pro models. A more powerful, mid-tier version of the chip called Brava would power the more expensive, upgraded MacBook Pro and Mac mini models. The most powerful M4 chip, Hidra, would be reserved for Apple’s most powerful computer, the Mac Pro. 

Apple’s desktop Mac Pro, it’s most expensive offering, is its lowest-selling computer but maintains a solid consumer base among professionals who need the absolute most computing power. And in order to further accommodate these users, Apple is looking to upgrade the maximum memory amount of 192GB in the current generation Mac Pro to 512GB in the upcoming M4 Mac Pro.

This appears to leave the Mac Studio, Apple’s mid-range desktop that’s priced between the Mac mini and Mac Pro, somewhat in the lurch. According to Gurman, Apple is still testing out an unreleased M3 model of the Mac Studio along with one with the M4 Brava chipset. An M4 Mac Studio wouldn’t be expected until 2025, so it’s unclear if Apple will still go ahead with the M3-powered version of the Mac Studio or just extend the M2 Mac Studio’s life for another year.

Alongside the Mac Studio, it’s likely we’ll see a 2025 release date for the M4 Mac Pro and MacBook Air models as well. 

If you want to be one of the first with an M4 Mac, the current plan seems to be M4 MacBook Pros, iMacs, and Mac minis later this year. The M3 MacBook Pro and iMac were announced in October 2023, so we could be seeing an October 2024 announcement for the M4.

Apple özgü lagged way behind on AI announcements when compared to the aggressive AI pivots of its competitors like Microsoft and Google. The company is clearly looking to catch up in the AI space, and all signs point to some significant AI-related announcements at its upcoming WWDC event in June. There’s a chance we might get a bit of a teaser for the M4 there too. (However, like we’ve previously mentioned, there’s an expectation they’ll roll out a new M3 Mac Studio, so we might have to wait a few months for an M4 mention.)

Along with catching up in the AI race, Gurman points out that Apple is looking to reinvigorate its computer line with the M4. Mac sales fell 27 percent last year and apparently the new M3 models weren’t different enough from the M2 line to warrant a spike in sales from consumers.

We’ll see if the M4 chip delivers for Apple, both in the AI space and in boosting Mac sales.

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