Rumor: M4 MacBook Pro with AI enhancements expected at the end of 2024

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited April 12

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.

Apple's M3 chip family
Apple's M3 chip family



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.

According to Bloomberg on Thursday, an update to its Mac lineup is expected to start late in 2024, extending into early 2025. These launches will include new iMacs, a new low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro, high-end 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro units, and Mac minis, all using the M4 generation.

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.

Rumor Score: Possible

Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    tyler82tyler82 Posts: 1,105member
    How many years until Apple actually has decent AI though? They're not really a leader right now. I'd wait until then to buy a current computer that could actually take advantage of AI advancements.
    williamlondon9secondkox2pulseimages
  • Reply 2 of 29
    ajmasajmas Posts: 601member
    tyler82 said:
    How many years until Apple actually has decent AI though? They're not really a leader right now. I'd wait until then to buy a current computer that could actually take advantage of AI advancements.
    What do you mean by decent AI and how do you define AI? Also AI for what purpose? 

    I ask the question because too many times the answer is usually a lot of hand waving and then the person admitting they don’t know. Also when they do decide on a simple example, then a simple algorithm will address it.  
    mike1auxio9secondkox2mattinozmichelb76beowulfschmidtssfe11dewmeAlex1N
  • Reply 3 of 29
    mobirdmobird Posts: 755member
    What's up with the Mac Studio?
    narwhalwilliamlondonAlex1N
  • Reply 4 of 29
    thttht Posts: 5,494member
    mobird said:
    What's up with the Mac Studio?
    The hope is that Apple announces Mac Studios with M3 Max and M3 Ultra in June. If so, it's right on schedule for M4 versions in June of 2025.

    There is speculation that Apple will have a discrete monolithic M3 Ultra chip with a silicon bridge to make a M3 Extreme consisting of 2 M3 Ultra chips. That would be interesting. If so, this could open up a MBP18 model or MBP16 with the M3 Ultra. Just not a lot of customers for a Mac Studio with Ultra or a Mac Pro with Ultra or Extreme.
    narwhalAlex1N
  • Reply 5 of 29
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,658member
    It’s refreshing to see the M professors progress consistently.  
    9secondkox2pulseimagesssfe11danoxJinTech
  • Reply 6 of 29
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,736member
    ajmas said:
    tyler82 said:
    How many years until Apple actually has decent AI though? They're not really a leader right now. I'd wait until then to buy a current computer that could actually take advantage of AI advancements.
    What do you mean by decent AI and how do you define AI? Also AI for what purpose? 
    To mindlessly drive up the value of shares silly. AI is the new tech buzzword. If you don't use it in your quarterly report, your company valuation drops significantly.
    9secondkox2danoxdewmeAlex1N
  • Reply 7 of 29
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,766member
    Ai is great and all but hopefully it comes with decent cpu and GPU performance upgrades. 

    The superior 3 nm process should help. 
  • Reply 8 of 29
    tyler82 said:
    How many years until Apple actually has decent AI though? They're not really a leader right now. I'd wait until then to buy a current computer that could actually take advantage of AI advancements.
    Apple has been doing ML integrations for years.  Marketing-speak changed “ML” to “AI” and you’re buying into it.  

    As for this article, Apple’s been updating the Neural Engine every time in the silicon, sometimes obviously with the number of cores, sometimes by stating so, with giant performance increases, and other times by changing the architecture of the core.  

    Since there aren’t any direct APIs to access the NE at this level and only the CoreML and higher level APIs like Vision, they can do this without breaking anyone. 
    MisterKitwilliamlondonmichelb76ssfe11libertyandfreedanoxdewmeAlex1N
  • Reply 9 of 29
    nubusnubus Posts: 412member
    Apple has been doing ML integrations for years.  Marketing-speak changed “ML” to “AI” and you’re buying into it.  

    As for this article, Apple’s been updating the Neural Engine every time in the silicon, sometimes obviously with the number of cores, sometimes by stating so, with giant performance increases, and other times by changing the architecture of the core.  

    Apple has indeed been delivering a Neural Processing Unit for years. However, even M3 Max is only delivering the ML performance of iPhone 14 Pro (17-18 TOPS). Intel is doing 34 TOPS with their 2023 laptop CPUs (combined NPU+GPU) and Lunar Lake will launch this year with 100 TOPS performance for laptops. Standing still is why the stock is dropping.

    Something will need to change. I would have killed M3 Ultra and asked the entire team to work on M4 or refocused M3 Ultra on ML at any cost to show at WWDC.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 10 of 29
    The ANE/NPU is only for inference, which is hardly used at the moment by any app, since inference is also fast enough on CPU+GPU for small models. So I'm wondering what the M4 will change. Double/triple the memory, memory bandwidth, GPU size? Auto-converting models to support MLX?

    Since smaller models will be optimised for fast inference anyway, what are they going to bring that will be significant?
    Alex1Nmattinoz
  • Reply 11 of 29
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,917member
    ajmas said:
    tyler82 said:
    How many years until Apple actually has decent AI though? They're not really a leader right now. I'd wait until then to buy a current computer that could actually take advantage of AI advancements.
    What do you mean by decent AI and how do you define AI? Also AI for what purpose? 

    I ask the question because too many times the answer is usually a lot of hand waving and then the person admitting they don’t know. Also when they do decide on a simple example, then a simple algorithm will address it.  

    Said it right. Often people have little knowledge about the subject matter but me too comment. AI is not one or nothing.
    williamlondonAlex1N
  • Reply 12 of 29
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,337member
    tht said:
    mobird said:
    What's up with the Mac Studio?
    The hope is that Apple announces Mac Studios with M3 Max and M3 Ultra in June. If so, it's right on schedule for M4 versions in June of 2025.

    There is speculation that Apple will have a discrete monolithic M3 Ultra chip with a silicon bridge to make a M3 Extreme consisting of 2 M3 Ultra chips. That would be interesting. If so, this could open up a MBP18 model or MBP16 with the M3 Ultra. Just not a lot of customers for a Mac Studio with Ultra or a Mac Pro with Ultra or Extreme.
    If the next ultra is a single chip then I’ll bet it’s less than twice a max. Maybe 18 big CPU cores plus 4 little cores and 60 GPU cores.

    but I could imagine Apple skipping the ultra for the m3 lineup and bringing it back for m4. 
    Alex1N
  • Reply 13 of 29
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,745member
    tyler82 said:
    How many years until Apple actually has decent AI though? They're not really a leader right now. I'd wait until then to buy a current computer that could actually take advantage of AI advancements.
    Too many folks limit the meaning of AI to LLMs and chatbots, where Apple may not have a significant presence (despite being the first). Apple already uses AI in many areas, and there are many more areas where AI will be used going forward.  IMHO, it is 'hold on to your seat time.'  I am definitely holding on to my AAPL shares.

    As an aside, talking about AI in general, I was playing with an audio AI yesterday and was able to split apart an 8-Track 1" reel to reel multitrack recording I made of a band 40 years ago that was mixed down to a half-track Revox Tape machine and had echo and reverb. I had digitized this decades ago as soon as the tech was possible, so all I had was a single stereo digital file.  I was able to remove echo and reverb, then separate the instruments and vocals and remix in Logic Pro.  This using an M2 Mac Studio Ultra that performed the entire operation in under a minute.  

    It was mind boggling. I can well imagine on an M4, Logic having this ability built in.  What a time we live in!
    edited April 12 ssfe11jas99tenthousandthingsdanoxdewmeAlex1N
  • Reply 14 of 29
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,745member
    tht said:
    mobird said:
    What's up with the Mac Studio?
    The hope is that Apple announces Mac Studios with M3 Max and M3 Ultra in June. If so, it's right on schedule for M4 versions in June of 2025.

    There is speculation that Apple will have a discrete monolithic M3 Ultra chip with a silicon bridge to make a M3 Extreme consisting of 2 M3 Ultra chips. That would be interesting. If so, this could open up a MBP18 model or MBP16 with the M3 Ultra. Just not a lot of customers for a Mac Studio with Ultra or a Mac Pro with Ultra or Extreme.
    My 2 cents;  they may go straight to M4. If they announce the M4 and then try to release the M3, who would buy the M3s?
    Alex1N
  • Reply 15 of 29
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,337member
    MacPro said:
    tyler82 said:
    How many years until Apple actually has decent AI though? They're not really a leader right now. I'd wait until then to buy a current computer that could actually take advantage of AI advancements.
    Too many folks limit the meaning of AI to LLMs and chatbots, where Apple may not have a significant presence (despite being the first). Apple already uses AI in many areas, and there are many more areas where AI will be used going forward.  IMHO, it is 'hold on to your seat time.'  I am definitely holding on to my AAPL shares.

    I think AAPL will likely benefit from AI due to a combination of apple silicon and Apple’s ability to make new technology more accessible and useful.

    the threat to AAPL is Xi. If he starts a war over Taiwan, AAPL is toast. Even if it’s not a shooting war, but just an embargo or some other extreme bullying/provocation that falls short of war, it will be bad for AAPL. 
    Alex1N
  • Reply 16 of 29
    MacPro said:
    tht said:
    mobird said:
    What's up with the Mac Studio?
    The hope is that Apple announces Mac Studios with M3 Max and M3 Ultra in June. If so, it's right on schedule for M4 versions in June of 2025.

    There is speculation that Apple will have a discrete monolithic M3 Ultra chip with a silicon bridge to make a M3 Extreme consisting of 2 M3 Ultra chips. That would be interesting. If so, this could open up a MBP18 model or MBP16 with the M3 Ultra. Just not a lot of customers for a Mac Studio with Ultra or a Mac Pro with Ultra or Extreme.
    My 2 cents;  they may go straight to M4. If they announce the M4 and then try to release the M3, who would buy the M3s?
    This is not a concern since Apple would never talk about an unreleased processor and will not announce the M4’s until they are ready to be debuted in a product. 
    danoxAlex1N
  • Reply 17 of 29
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,717member
    blastdoor said:
    tht said:
    mobird said:
    What's up with the Mac Studio?
    The hope is that Apple announces Mac Studios with M3 Max and M3 Ultra in June. If so, it's right on schedule for M4 versions in June of 2025.

    There is speculation that Apple will have a discrete monolithic M3 Ultra chip with a silicon bridge to make a M3 Extreme consisting of 2 M3 Ultra chips. That would be interesting. If so, this could open up a MBP18 model or MBP16 with the M3 Ultra. Just not a lot of customers for a Mac Studio with Ultra or a Mac Pro with Ultra or Extreme.
    If the next ultra is a single chip then I’ll bet it’s less than twice a max. Maybe 18 big CPU cores plus 4 little cores and 60 GPU cores.

    but I could imagine Apple skipping the ultra for the m3 lineup and bringing it back for m4. 
    Rumor has it that the next Ultra (and more powerful) variants of Apple Silicon will NOT have any efficiency cores.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 18 of 29
    Gurman is betting that A18/M4 is on N3E, which has been in volume production since late last year, so why not? There are a lot of unspoken "ifs" in that prediction, however. The first being "If M4 is on N3E..." 

    It's fun to see the code names, and I think Apple Insider is right to guess they are for M4, M4 Pro, M4 Max, but they don't tell us anything beyond confirming (if that guess is correct) the M4 launch will have the same marketing/naming structure as the M3 launch.
    Alex1Nnubus
  • Reply 19 of 29
    nubus said:
    Apple has been doing ML integrations for years.  Marketing-speak changed “ML” to “AI” and you’re buying into it.  

    As for this article, Apple’s been updating the Neural Engine every time in the silicon, sometimes obviously with the number of cores, sometimes by stating so, with giant performance increases, and other times by changing the architecture of the core.  

    Apple has indeed been delivering a Neural Processing Unit for years. However, even M3 Max is only delivering the ML performance of iPhone 14 Pro (17-18 TOPS). Intel is doing 34 TOPS with their 2023 laptop CPUs (combined NPU+GPU) and Lunar Lake will launch this year with 100 TOPS performance for laptops. Standing still is why the stock is dropping.

    Something will need to change. I would have killed M3 Ultra and asked the entire team to work on M4 or refocused M3 Ultra on ML at any cost to show at WWDC.
    The presentation on this at WWDC will be interesting. I can't find it right now, but I read somewhere there is no difference between the NPU in the A17 Pro and the M3, and the 35 trillion versus 18 trillion numbers reflect two different standards for measuring it. So one number is for the mobile industry, the other for the computer industry. Apple didn't double the peak NPU ops/sec in the A17 Pro versus the A16 Bionic. Instead, the competition changed to a different standard that provided better-sounding numbers, and Apple was forced to adopt that for the A17 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro without comment, but they kept the old standard for the M3, to avoid appearing to claim an astounding leap forward in the NPU relative to the M1 and M2, when in reality it is incremental.

    I'll try to find it, it wasn't an anonymous internet commenter or anything, it described the change, but it was only like two sentences and now I can't find it.
    edited April 12 Alex1Nnubus
  • Reply 20 of 29
    KT123KT123 Posts: 13member
    tht said:
    mobird said:
    What's up with the Mac Studio?
    The hope is that Apple announces Mac Studios with M3 Max and M3 Ultra in June. If so, it's right on schedule for M4 versions in June of 2025.

    There is speculation that Apple will have a discrete monolithic M3 Ultra chip with a silicon bridge to make a M3 Extreme consisting of 2 M3 Ultra chips. That would be interesting. If so, this could open up a MBP18 model or MBP16 with the M3 Ultra. Just not a lot of customers for a Mac Studio with Ultra or a Mac Pro with Ultra or Extreme.
    and by Xmas 2024, you can bet your bottom dollar on an $1600-2400 discount on that Mac Studios with M3 Max and M3 Ultra released in the prehistoric era of June 2024.

    It'll be so last year compared to the shiny new M4 Macbooks with all the AI bells and whistles.
    Alex1N
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