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What is the Apple R1 processor? The new chip explained

The Apple R1 processor has been announced, which is a new chip designed specially for the Apple Vision Pro headset, but how does the Apple R1 compare to Apple’s other processors?

We’ve created this guide to explain everything you need to know about Apple’s latest bespoke chipset.

What is the Apple R1 processor? 

The Apple R1 processor is a chip designed specifically for mixed reality headsets such as the new Vision Pro

The R1 chip doesn’t power the headset alone, running in conjunction with M2 chip (the same processor that powers the MacBook Air) instead. 

While the Apple M2 chip is tasked with running operations, making it possible for you to access applications through the headset, the R1 processor is instead responsible for processing information from its sensors. 

These sensors include 12 cameras, 5 sensors and 6 microphones. By processing the data from these sensors within a super-speedy 12 milliseconds – that’s apparently 8x faster than the blink of an eye. 

Apple R1 inside the Vision Pro
Credit: Apple

It’s incredibly important for Apple to make these processes as quickly as possible, as this will help to reduce the likelihood of motion sickness. If the human eye can detect any sort of delay while moving around with the headset on, the user can start to feel sick and disorientated. It’s the job of the Apple R1 chip to prevent this from happening.

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There is a downside to having two processors inside the headset, as this can increase the rate that the battery depletes. Apple claims the headset only has a 2-hour battery life on a single charge. That may come as a surprise to those with a Macbook Air, as the M2 is considered to be highly efficient, but the inclusion of the R1 chip alongside the M2 will likely cause the battery to drain even faster than any MacBook. 

The inclusion of both chips has likely upped the cost of the headset too. Apple has announced that the headset will cost a mighty $3499. There are potentially many reasons why this headset is so expensive, but having both the R1 and M2 processors is likely to be one of the biggest culprits. 

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