The Apple M1 iPad Pro is fast, and Intel is in trouble

Apple Silicon is ratcheting up the pressure on Intel's flagship processors.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

We knew that the M1 App Silicon processors were fast. Right out of the gate, Apple is blowing away the competition.

And this is just the beginning.

But the new M1 iPad Pro shows just how much pressure Apple is putting on existing chipmakers, especially chip-giant Intel.

Geekbench 5 data uncovered by MacRumors shows just how powerful the new iPad Pro is. Powered by Apple's first-generation silicon (yes, keep that in mind), the M1 chip in the iPad Pro gives it enough horsepower to easily beat a maxed-out Intel Core i9-powered 16-inch MacBook Pro.

And the MacBook Air is even faster.

  • M1 MacBook Air: 7,378
  • M1 iPad Pro: 7,284
  • Core i9 16-inch MacBook Pro: 6,845

Pitting the M1 chip (this data is for the one on the MacBook Air, but the iPad Pro chip seems essentially identical) against the Core i9, we get average single-core and multi-core Geekbench 5 scores of 1,701 and 7,378 for the M1, and 1,091 and 6,845 for the Core i9.

The M1 -- remember, first-generation Apple Silicon -- even has the flagship Core i9-11900K in its sights.

Also: Intel boasts i9 Tiger Lake-H is the fastest single-threaded laptop processor

If Intel execs aren't losing sleep over this, they should be. Apple is cramming so much performance into a small, efficient package that it is managing to compete with high-end desktop and laptop silicon, and putting that inside a battery-powered tablet.

So, what's Intel been doing all these years? Has it hit a ceiling in terms of what it is able to squeeze from its chips without major changes (and investment), or has the company been drip-feeding small performance increases over the generations because of a lack of any real competition?

Either is a problem, but if it ends up being the latter, it goes to show just how important competition in a market is.

Watching what Intel -- and AMD -- does to respond to Apple is going to be interesting. Apple's just begun, and if the trends we've seen with the A-series processors are anything to go by, we're going to be seeing performance double yearly and an aggressive upgrade cycle.

On top of that, Apple has yet to reveal its plans for the high-end Mac Pro system. The challenges here will be different, but could pave the way for Apple to become a dominant player in the workstation space.

It's going to be an interesting few years in the processor sector.

Orders opened for the M1 iPad Pro April 30, with devices starting to ship May 21.

What do you think the future holds for Intel? And where does this leave smaller players such as AMD? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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