Right up until 2020, Apple was partnered with Intel to deliver lightweight and powerful laptops. But, they were never comparable in performance to other laptops on the market rocking high-powered Intel or AMD CPUs.
Apple decided that it was time for a change, so they developed their own in-house ARM processor named M1. However, the M1 wasn’t just a laptop solution. Apple’s plan is for the M1 (and future generations) to be a successor to the A13 Bionic for the iPad Pro. The M1 was also implemented in the iMac and Mac Mini.
The M1 brought huge performance and efficiency improvements to the table, making Apple devices more competitive than ever before. So, with such a huge success, naturally, Apple is already taking the step to develop M2.
This article will showcase everything we know so far about Apple’s upcoming M2 chip, including release date, specifications, price, and benchmarks.
Let’s jump right into it!
- October 19, 2021: Added specifications for the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in the 2021 MacBook Pros.
- October 12, 2021: Fixed grammar errors, improved readability.
- October 4, 2021: Added information for the Apple Event in October and announcements.
- September 13, 2021: Added new rumors regarding the release date of MacBook Pros with M1X
- September 6, 2021: Added new information thoughts on the M1X or M2 naming scheme
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Finding the release date for a processor that is still in development is never simple. With no official information provided by Apple, it is impossible to know when we can get our hands on M2-based devices.
What we do know is that M2 is not going to be ready for 2021 and that we should probably expect it in late 2022. Fortunately, while waiting for M2, we have M1 Pro and M1 Max replacing M1 devices. Currently, the only Apple devices with these chips are the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros.
The M1X chips are probably based on the same 5nm process with the Icestorm and Firestorm architecture. This type of hybrid architecture is usually referred to as big.Little. We’re going to get the same type of architecture on Intel’s Alder Lake.
M2 on the other hand will be a completely different story as it is supposed to come on a 4nm process or an updated 5nm node (5-nanometer plus or 5NP). With a jump to a new architecture, we’ll get more transistors which usually means better performance and improved efficiency.
Leaks are claiming that this next generation of the M1 is already in development, but that may just be M1X instead of M2.
While the MacBook Pros are destined for 2021, it seems that Apple’s MacBook Airs with M2 are still far from ready. New rumors hint towards the end of 2022. This late release date may be Apple’s expected release date or it could be because of component shortage.
News has it that Apple is having trouble supplying the demand even with the latest MacBook Air. It might be that the production for the M2/M1X MacBook Air has not started yet.
We weren’t sure whether the 2021 MacBook Pros will come with an M2 or M1X chips, but we favored the M1X idea considering all the rumors suggesting M2 isn’t even in development.
And, we were right. The new 2021 MacBook Pros came with an updated version of the M1 and larger in size too. For now, there are two variants, the M1 Pro and M1 Max.
A little early to talk about specifications considering that neither Apple nor TSMC have opened up to talk on this matter. But, there are some leaks we could share.
Certain leaks believe that the 4nm or 5NP process could bring an increase of GPU cores (from 8 to 32+), and a new maximum for memory (64GB RAM). And that’s just the improvements for the GPU. In fact, the M1 Max already has surpassed these limits. It supports 64GB RAM and has 32 cores, so it is entirely possible for M2 to go even beyond that.
The M1 Max comes with 10 cores which is already better than the 8 cores in the M1, so the M2 could probably reach 12 cores or more.
With 12 cores, the split could go like this: Four efficiency cores combined with 8 performance cores. This is going to help Macbooks preserve their battery, but also provide power when needed with the addition of 4 more performance cores.
This could also mean a larger power draw.
However, since Apple is planning to fit even their iMacs with their in-house chips, more power draw is expected. A 32-core M2 that can power an iMac with 32 cores might be one of the fastest consumer CPUs on the market.
A sample also showed up on CPU-Monkey promising those 12 CPU cores that we talked about previously. This sample has 10 high-performance cores and only 2 efficiency cores (clocked at 3.35 GHz).
It may just be a pre-sample Apple is testing, but it could also be a fake sample.
But, the M1X chips in the 2021 MacBook Pros hint towards large improvements in performance, so it’s not impossible for the sample to be true.
Let’s get a better look at the MacBook Pros to understand the potential of M2.
Apple has named these two chips M1 Pro and M1 Max. Allegedly, Apple claims a 70% increase in CPU performance and twice the power in the GPU segment compared to the original M1 CPU. This sounds very impressive, but keep in mind that Apple’s numbers are never backed up by any benchmarks. But, we’ll have those benchmarks soon enough.
However, these numbers might also be true because the M1 Pro comes with 4 more performance cores. That brings to a total of ten cores. Eight performance and two efficiency cores.
These ten cores are combined with a 16-core GPU with 2,048 EUs.
The M1 Pro has support for 32GB of RAM, an upgrade to M1’s 16GB maximum, and the memory bandwidth is boosted up to 200GB/s. Keep in mind, the memory is not upgradable because the memory is directly integrated into the chip and shared with the GPU. The M1 Pro also rocks 33.7 billion transistors. About two times more than the 2020 M1.
The M1 Max is the biggest one yet with 57 billion transistors. The M1 Max gets the same core configuration, 8 performance, and 2 efficiency cores, the RAM capacity goes up to 64GB, double the memory bandwidth (400GB/s), and a 32-core GPU with 4,096 EUs.
Both of these chips should considerably improve performance and battery life too considering the much better performance per watt
What does all of this mean for the pricing of future Apple devices? Well, it is impossible to know for certain as it depends on Apple’s architecture decision. If M2 is going to be on the 5NP architecture, the pricing probably won’t change too much from the last generation of Macbooks, iMacs, and iPad Pros.
Here is the pricing of last-generation (M1) devices:
- Macbook Air M1 – $999 (up to $2,049)
- Macbook Pro 13-Inch M1- $1,299 (up to $2,299)
- iPad Pro 11-Inch M1- $799 (up to $2,099)
- Mac Mini M1- $699 (up to $1,699)
It is apparent that Apple is following some type of pattern with its pricing. The starting options offer a much more appealing price but they usually come with a smaller storage drive and less RAM. If you want a 2TB SDD, you’ll have to fork over $2,000.
We can assume this same price pattern for the M2 generation too. Although it wouldn’t be unbelievable for Apple to push for higher pricing for all devices equipped with M2.
Here is the pricing of M1X devices:
- Macbook Pro 14-Inch M1X – $1,999 (up to $5,899 with M1 Max)
- Macbook Pro 16-Inch M1X – $2,499 (up to $6,099 with M1 Max)
The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 and comes with the M1 Pro chip. However, if you the M1 Max chip for those extra cores in the GPU, you can upgrade the 14-inch for $500. That’s just the 24-core GPU variant though. For the 32-core GPU, you’ll need to pay $700 extra.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is also offered with both the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
So, if Apple keeps it up, getting the high-end M2 chips in the 2022 MacBook Air could cost more than $1000.
Keep in mind, these are just assumptions. For more info, we’ll need to wait and see what Apple are planning with the 2022 MacBook Airs.
Considering that there isn’t any concrete information regarding the specs of these new M2 chips, you can imagine that benchmarks are even more scarce. In fact, there probably aren’t any benchmarks available at all.
But, once leaked benchmarks start showing up throughout 2022, be sure that we will update this article with the appropriate information as soon as possible.