New Apple M4 Release: AI-Focused Overhaul and Special Hidra Chipset

Apple M4

Apple's M4 generation is poised to revolutionize its Mac product stack, heralding a significant pivot towards artificial intelligence (AI). Insights from renowned Apple analyst Mark Gurman suggest that AI will take center stage in the Mac ecosystem, starting with the forthcoming Apple M4 chipsets. While the rollout of Apple M4 upgrades is expected to commence later this year, the transition may extend into 2025, culminating in the introduction of a special 'Hidra' chipset tailored for the Mac Pro, potentially boasting a remarkable 512 GB of unified memory.

Despite ongoing advancements, Apple has yet to complete the transition to its Apple M3 generation across its entire product lineup. The Apple M3 chipset has been integrated into various Mac models, including the MacBook Air 13 and MacBook Air 15, under the monikers M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max. However, the imminent release of new iPad Pro models, equipped with Apple M3 chipsets, signals a significant redesign for the series.

Mark Gurman, in his latest insights shared via Bloomberg, has already shifted focus to the anticipated features of the Apple M4 generation. Gurman highlights that the M4 lineup will undergo an "AI-focused" overhaul, with three distinct variants codenamed:

  • Donan - potential Apple M4
  • Brava - potential Apple M4 Pro
  • Hidra - potential Apple M4 Ultra

Gurman's projections indicate that the iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro 14, and MacBook Pro 16 will be the first recipients of Apple M4-based upgrades, expected to debut between late 2024 and early 2025. Moreover, Gurman suggests that Apple will maintain a distinction between entry-level and high-end MacBook Pro 14 SKUs, likely outfitting the former with 'Donan' and reserving 'Brava' for the latter. These anticipated refreshes are slated for late 2024 or early 2025, with MacBook Air releases anticipated in spring 2025.

Meanwhile, the desktop-oriented Mac Studio and Mac Pro are anticipated to join the Apple M4 lineup in mid and later 2025, respectively. Notably, only the Mac Pro is rumored to launch with the 'Hidra' chipset, potentially offering a new 512 GB unified memory variant. Although this falls short of the older Mac Pro's support for 1.5 TB of RAM, it represents a substantial improvement over the current model's 192 GB unified memory limit. Gurman speculates that Apple will unveil a plethora of new on-device AI features at WWDC 2024, scheduled for June 10th to June 14th.

Assessment of Apple's M4 Generation

The purported pivot towards AI in Apple's M4 generation marks a significant strategic move for the tech giant. By integrating advanced AI capabilities into its Mac product stack, Apple aims to enhance user experience, productivity, and overall performance. However, while the prospect of AI-driven innovations is promising, the success of the M4 generation hinges on several critical factors.

CPU and Graphics Processor

The performance of Apple's M4 chipsets, particularly in terms of CPU and graphics processing capabilities, will be pivotal in determining the success of the new generation. Given the emphasis on AI, it is expected that the M4 chipsets will feature significant enhancements in processing power and efficiency. The integration of specialized AI accelerators and neural processing units (NPUs) could enable tasks such as natural language processing, image recognition, and machine learning to be performed more efficiently on Mac devices.

However, Apple's transition to in-house silicon with the M1 chip has raised questions about compatibility and performance optimization, particularly for software that relies heavily on CPU and GPU capabilities. Developers may face challenges in adapting their applications to leverage the full potential of the M4 chipsets, potentially leading to compatibility issues and performance limitations.

Display and Connectivity

While the focus of the M4 generation appears to be on internal hardware enhancements, improvements in display technology and connectivity options could further differentiate Apple's Mac lineup. High-resolution Retina displays with enhanced color accuracy and brightness levels could elevate the viewing experience for users, particularly professionals working in creative industries.

Furthermore, advancements in connectivity, such as support for the latest Wi-Fi standards, Thunderbolt ports, and USB-C interfaces, could enhance the versatility and productivity of Mac devices. Seamless integration with external peripherals and high-speed data transfer capabilities are essential considerations for users who rely on their Macs for a wide range of tasks.

RAM and Storage

The introduction of the 'Hidra' chipset with support for up to 512 GB of unified memory represents a significant upgrade in terms of RAM capacity for the Mac Pro. However, it falls short of the expandability options available in older Mac Pro models, which supported up to 1.5 TB of RAM. While 512 GB may suffice for most professional workflows, users with demanding computational tasks or large datasets may find the limitations restrictive.

Similarly, while the M4 generation is expected to offer improvements in storage performance and efficiency, the absence of expandable storage options could pose challenges for users with extensive storage requirements. Apple's reliance on solid-state storage solutions, while offering fast read and write speeds, may limit the flexibility for users who require terabytes of storage for multimedia production or data-intensive applications.

Camera and Other Features

Apple's focus on AI in the M4 generation could lead to enhancements in camera technology, particularly in terms of computational photography and video processing capabilities. Advanced AI algorithms could improve autofocus performance, low-light photography, and image stabilization, offering users a more versatile and intuitive camera experience.

Moreover, the integration of AI-driven features such as voice recognition, context-aware computing, and personalized recommendations could redefine the user experience on Mac devices. By leveraging machine learning and neural networks, Apple aims to deliver a more intuitive and proactive computing environment, tailored to individual user preferences and behaviors.


The anticipated release of Apple's M4 generation represents a significant milestone in the evolution of its Mac product lineup. With a strategic focus on artificial intelligence, Apple aims to redefine the capabilities and user experience of its Mac devices, leveraging advanced AI algorithms and custom-designed chipsets to unlock new levels of performance and efficiency.

However, the success of the M4 generation will ultimately depend on the execution of its AI-focused strategy, as well as the ability to address potential challenges such as software compatibility, hardware limitations, and user adoption. As the tech industry awaits further details and announcements from Apple, the M4 generation holds the promise of delivering groundbreaking innovations that could shape the future of computing.

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