Apple's M4 Chip Promises Big Gains and Better AI Performance for the iPad Pro

For the first time, a new generation of M-series Apple silicon debuts in an iPad.

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Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
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The M4 chip allows for the iPad's new Tandem OLED display and better power efficiency.

Apple; GIF by Arielle Burton/CNET

Apple unveiled its latest iPad Pro line Tuesday, with the 11- and 13-inch models both packing brand-new M4 processors. Apple boasts that these new chips offer significant performance boosts over the previous M2-based iPad Pros, along with better power efficiency and improved machine learning for AI-based tasks. 

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Like the M3 chip found in Apple's MacBook range, the M4 is based on 3-nanometer architecture and uses four performance cores, six efficiency cores and a 10-core GPU. While this might not be a revolution in performance over M3-based devices, Apple is making some big performance claims over older iPad models. 

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The company reckons the new chip will provide 1.5x better performance over the M2 chip, with 4x better GPU performance in certain tasks. Got a first-gen M1 iPad Pro? You can expect up to 10x faster performance in the new model. 

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

It's not just about straight-line speed, with Apple claiming significant boosts in power efficiency for better battery life. The chip also helps drive the new Tandem OLED technology that makes up both iPads' new Ultra Retina XDR displays.

No tech launch in 2024 would be complete without a mention of AI, and indeed the M4 chip promises better machine learning performance for AI-based tasks, although we expect to hear more about Apple's use of AI across all its platforms at WWDC in June

The M4 chip will come as standard in both sizes of the new iPad Pro, while the new iPad Air will come equipped with the older M2 processor.