(Image Credit: Apple)
In 2020, Apple began using its own desktop processors in some of its Mac range with the arrival of the M1 chip as seen in the 24-inch iMac, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and MacBook Air. Since then, we’ve seen the debut of Pro-tier versions in the form of the M1 Max and M1 Pro, which arrived in the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro models that launched in October 2021.
Now rumors are beginning to flow about the second generation of Apple silicon. We round up all the news and insights on what to expect in the Apple M2 system-on-chip.
Apple M2 release date
There is no set date or official confirmation from Apple about the M2 chip. But we know Apple isn’t a company to rest on its laurels, as we’ve seen in the annual iteration of the A-series chips that have powered the iPhone for several years.
Most of the rumors we’ve seen about a possible M2 release date seem to be related to the next version of the MacBook Air. The Air was one of the first to move to the M series with the MacBook Air (2020) M1 , which was released in November 2020. Rumors suggest that the MacBook Air (2022) could be the first to show off the latest MacBook design. apple silicone.
That tweet dates back to July 2021, and since then the idea that the M2 could arrive in the first half of the year has started to look less likely. It’s possible, though: A MacRumors source, who according to that site revealed details of the MacBook Pro notch ahead of the October 2021 event, has said that Apple will launch a new M2-powered MacBook Pro at its Spring Event.
This is countered somewhat by industry heavyweight Ming Chi-Kuo, who thinks the new device won’t arrive until Q3 2022 , albeit with a colorful new design similar to what we’ve already seen with the 24-inch iMac. inches (2021) .
Another reason not to expect to see the M2 before the fall is the fact that Apple is believed to be tightening up the manufacturing process.
While the manufacturing process will remain at 5 nanometers, Apple is said to be using TSMC’s next-generation N4P process, which is an upgraded version of the 5-nanometer process. This new process is supposed to offer around 11 percentage points more performance and almost 22 percentage points more efficiency compared to the conventional 5 nanometer process (used for the production of A15 and M1, M1 Pro and Max).
However, TSMC indicates that the production of these processors will not start until the second half of 2022. Therefore, it is unlikely that the M2 Macs will launch before the fall of 2022.
Apple M2 Features and Specifications
The process of the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors (or SoC to be more precise) focused on performance improvements that made the M1 Pro about twice as fast as the M1 when it came to graphics tasks, while the M1 Max doubled it once again.
This was due to the extra cores in the newer processors and more powerful GPUs, not to mention the fact that Apple was able to pack almost twice as many transistors into the M1 Pro compared to the 1 billion transistors in the standard M16.
All of this is great if you’re working on video-based work or graphic design and need the faster performance of a Mac. But obviously, this kind of speed comes at a cost that’s prohibitive for most users, and it really isn’t. they need that kind of hardware to browse the web, stream Netflix movies, keep up with friends on social media, or work from home on documents and spreadsheets.
Therefore, the current expectation is that the M2 line of processors will be aimed at consumers rather than professionals and as such will focus more on power efficiency and overall performance improvements over the M1 it will replace. .
We’ve seen some reports that Apple will keep the same 8 CPU cores as the M1, but may add more GPU cores to beef up the M2’s capabilities. For example, in a May 2021 Bloomberg report Mark Gurman’s suggested that the M2 (apparently codenamed Staten), will include the same eight cores as the M1 chip, but will run faster.
The N4P process, mentioned above, should allow about six percent higher transistor density, which could allow Apple to pack 10 CPU cores into the M2 (two more than the M1). These individual cores could be synchronized a bit faster than in the M1.
Another possibility is that Apple could do with the M2 CPU something similar to what it has done with the M1 Pro and M1 Max, which have 10 cores. However, where the M1 has four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, the M1 Pro and Max have twice as many high-performance cores (eight), but fewer efficiency cores (two). The next generation M2 could increase the number of high-efficiency cores.
(Image Credit: Apple)
Apple can also expand the performance of the graphics card to nine or ten graphics cores, two more than the current M1.
In the report mentioned above, Gurman suggested that the M2 will see an increase in the number of graphics cores from seven or eight to nine or ten.
There are probably people who expect the M2 to support more RAM than the M1 currently (the M1 maxes out at 16GB of RAM, while the M1 Pro can support 32GB and the M1 Max 64GB). 32GB of RAM is probably unlikely to be supported by the M2 and probably unnecessary for such a Mac. However, we’d like to see the price of the 16GB RAM upgrade drop.
As with any iterative update, we expect the M2 to deliver better battery life and power efficiency compared to the M1.
Which Macs will get the M2 processor?
Discussing the M2 chip, Gurman claimed that it would be intended for the next MacBook Air and would also be used for an update to the lower-end 13-inch MacBook Pro.
After the new MacBook Pros get the supercharged M1 Pro and M1 Max, we think it makes sense for the M2 to be the processor featured in consumer-grade Macs.
So we’re expecting M2 updates for the MacBook Air, Mac mini, and 24-inch Mac to arrive over the next year or so. Also, since the iPad Pro currently has the M1 chip, it could be that the anticipated iPad Pro (2022) will go the M2 route instead of the M1 Pro or M1 Max. That will be interesting to see and hopefully it won’t be long until we can test the new silicon and find out exactly what improvements Apple has made.
This doesn’t mean you should wait until the latter part of 2022 though, as you’ll see in Why the upcoming M2 chip shouldn’t stop you from buying a Mac now . If you agree, then Where to Buy the M1 MacBook Pro, Air, and Mini (2020) are good places to start.
What about the M2 Pro and M2 Max?
There will be readers who want to know what awaits the Pro and Max variants on the M2. The M1 Pro and M1 Max have already proven to be very capable, so there are high expectations for the next generation of these.
However, we may not have to wait for the next generation to get Macs with even better Apple chips. One of the hottest theories right now is that the 27-inch iMac replacement and Intel variant of the Mac mini could double down on the M1 Pro or M1 Max for even more CPU and GPU cores and even more RAM.
So we could soon see the M1 Pro Duo or M1 Max Duo in a professional-focused iMac and an upgraded Mac Pro. Exciting times!
And the M3…
The M2 will be great, we have no doubts about that, but just a year later we could see something even better that will bring an even more massive jump in performance compared to the current generation.
TSMC is said to be testing processors made using the 3nm process, which should allow for even higher transistor density, and these are likely destined for the M3 and A17 chips, according to Digitimes. TSMC had previously had to postpone its 3nm plans due to the complexities of the process.
According to Digitimes, the first products using the 3nm processor will be released in the first quarter of 2023, with production starting in late 2022.
Qualcomm, Samsung and Intel are ready to use the 3nm process.
The M3 chip is likely to provide a significant performance boost over the M1 chips, as the higher-end chips are built with two boards and offer up to 40 CPU cores.
(Image Credit: Apple)