How Apple is making the chips that power its computers – and why its Macs are turning green

In Munich, sandwiched between breweries and beer gardens, stands something Apple knows only as “Karl”. The building – named after Karlstrasse, the road on which it stands – is in part a grand testament to an even grander plan by the company.

That plan is known broadly as Apple silicon, and it is happening not only inside Karl but at a range of more or less secretive buildings around the world. Put a little less broadly, it was the major departure that Apple made around three years ago, when it announced that it would start designing its own chips to power its Mac computers.

Apple silicon was the latest part of decades of work by the company to design and make as much of its products as possible. It appears to have paid off.

Apple says that the integration it has allowed has made its computers vastly more capable and powerful, an assessment that has repeatedly been echoed by the reviewers who use them. By bringing its hardware, software and product design work together, it also says that it has been able to create experiences and products that would never have been possible before.

But it also says that it has paid off in other ways, too. The new chips are not only more powerful but also less power-hungry, doing their work far more efficiently than before.

That helps in obvious ways, such as vastly increasing the time between charges of its devices even with the same-sized battery. But there are more subtle and arguably more important ways that helps – such as cutting down the amount of energy used by its devices, and in so doing helping reduce the carbon footprint both of Apple and the people who used its products.


In 2020, Apple made an announcement that was no less shocking for the fact that many had predicted it would arrive. It was going to design its own chips, it said, and move away from the Intel processors that had powered its computers for 15 years.

The announcement was significant but at that point seemed inevitable: the Apple-designed chips that had been used in the iPhones for years at that point had started to…