TensorFlow is now available for those shiny new ARM-based Macs

Ryan is a senior editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter (@Gadget_Ry) or Mastodon (@gadgetry@techhub.social)

A new version of machine learning library TensorFlow has been released with optimisations for Apple’s new ARM-based Macs.

While still technically in pre-release, the Mac-optimised TensorFlow fork supports native hardware acceleration on Mac devices with M1 or Intel chips through Apple’s ML Compute framework.

The new TensorFlow release boasts of an over 10x speed improvement for common training tasks. While impressive, it has to be taken in the context that the GPU was not previously used for training tasks. 

A look at the benchmarks still indicates a substantial gap between the Intel and M1-based Macs across various machine learning models:

In a blog post, Pankaj Kanwar, Tensor Processing Units Technical Program Manager at Google, and Fred Alcober, TensorFlow Product Marketing Lead at Google, wrote:

“These improvements, combined with the ability of Apple developers being able to execute TensorFlow on iOS through TensorFlow Lite, continue to showcase TensorFlow’s breadth and depth in supporting high-performance ML execution on Apple hardware.”

We can only hope that running these workloads doesn’t turn MacBooks into expensive frying pans—but the remarkable efficiency they’ve displayed so far gives little cause for concern.

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