The Apple M2 Chip: What Is It and Why Should You Care?

Apple M2 chip feautred
Courtesy of Apple.

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Apple’s Spring event sent fans into a tizzy with news about the M1 Ultra Chip, but it seems like there may be something potentially more powerful in the works: the long-rumored Apple M2 chip. The M2 is expected sometime in the latter half of this year, and it might be the driving force behind a new lineup of MacBook Air, Mini and Pro devices (including iPads.)

  

Apple M2 Chip Specifications

There are no confirmed specs for the Apple M2, but we can make a few educated guesses based on what we know. To start, the base M2 is likely going to be less powerful than the M1 Ultra. It’s unlikely the M2 will boast the same 20 CPU cores and 64 GPU cores the Ultra does; in fact, it will likely be on par with one of the lower-specced M1 chips.

Apple will probably launch different configurations of the M2. Given the naming scheme, it might even be the M2, the M2 Pro and the M2 Max, especially if Mark Gurman, the primary reporter on the M2 chip thus far, is to be believed.

In a Bloomberg article, Gurman says that a MacBook Air with an M2 chip is in testing that has eight CPU cores and 10 GPU cores. He also says that the M2 Max chip has 12 CPU cores and 38 GPU cores and is in testing with a 14-inch MacBook Pro.

M1 Ultra View of the Apple M1 chip. Courtesy of Apple

Developer documentation suggests that nine different machines are in testing, including a MacBook Air, Mac Mini, several sizes of MacBook Pros and a Mac Pro that utilizes a successor to the M1 Ultra chip.

There are other rumors that state the M2 might have the same 8 core CPU as the M1, but will have better overall performance thanks to a 4-nanometer process.

Higher-tier versions of the M2 will boast more cores, both on the CPU and GPU front, and greater amounts of memory.

  

Apple M1 vs M2

While the original M1 chip was a groundbreaking device on its launch, it was also designed with entry-level systems in mind. In other words, basic MacBooks versus a professional laptop that might have the M1 Pro or M1 Max chip in it.

From the details we know so far, the M2 is slated to serve a similar purpose. It could be the main chip in the 2022 series of MacBooks. As the second generation of Apple Silicon processors, the M2 has a lot of promise — but take these rumors with a grain of salt. All the information available so far is speculation based on a limited amount of data.

Apple M1 Ultra Infographic Chart Courtesy of Apple.

Right now, the Apple M1 has several versions: the Apple M1, the M1 Pro, the M1 Max and the M1 Ultra. Rumors have already surfaced about the possible existence of the M2 Pro and M2 Max (as touched on in the “Chip Specifications” section), but nothing has been said about the M2 Ultra.

The Apple M2 is set to be a direct successor to the M1: a chip designed for entry-level computers of the next generation. Apple has made it clear the company intends to shift all of its Mac products to the M-series, which means the M2 isn’t likely to be the last in its line.

  

When Is the Apple M2 Chip Coming Out?

Apple has not yet publicly confirmed the existence of the M2, much less given an official release date. However, if the next generation of Apple computers contains the chip, we can estimate the release date.

According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of 9to5Mac, the next MacBook Air is expected to release in mid 2022 — and it will contain the M2 chip. It’s possible that mid 2022 means the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which is set for June 6–10.

Most releases coincide with Apple events. If the M2 isn’t announced at the WWDC, then we will probably see it at an event in the fall.

  

What Products Will Have the Apple M2 Chip?

Bloomberg reports that there are at least nine machines with the Apple M2 chip currently in development:

  • MacBook Air, codenamed J413
  • Mac Mini, codenamed J473
  • Mac Mini with M2 Pro option, codenamed J474
  • Mac Mini with M1 Pro option, codenamed J374
  • MacBook Pro, codenamed J493
  • 14-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Pro and Max options, codenamed J414
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Pro and Max options, codenamed J416
  • Mac Pro, codenamed J180

No details are given on the supposed ninth device in testing. Most of this information was gathered through public developer logs in the App Store — a source that has historically been indicative of upcoming hardware. The Bloomberg article points out that an Apple spokesperson declined to comment regarding devices currently in development.

  

Don’t Want to Wait? Here Are Current Macs With an M1 Chip

If you don’t want to wait for the M2 to release and you need a powerful computer right away, there are several options available to you.

  

2020 MacBook Pro 13-inch

The 2020 MacBook Pro 13-inch model is a solid entry-level machine with 8 GB RAM, a 512 GB SSD, an 8-core CPU and an 8-core GPU. It utilizes the basic M1 chip.

2020 Macbook Pro 13 Courtesy of Apple

  

2021 MacBook Pro 14-inch

The 2021 MacBook Pro 14-inch comes with the Apple M1 Pro inside it — a 10-core beast with 16 GPU cores. It also has 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB SSD that grants a tremendous amount of storage.

2021 Macbook Pro Courtesy of Apple

  

2020 Mac Mini

If you need a stationary device versus a laptop, then the 2020 Mac Mini might be the right pick for you. It comes with the Apple M1, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB of flash memory — although there is a 512 GB option for a couple of hundred more.

2020 Mac Mini Courtesy of Apple

  

2021 iMac

If you’re looking for an all-in-one, the 2021 Apple iMac is a good choice. Featuring an Apple M1, it has an 8 CPU core and 7 GPU core, although you can choose a variant that has 8 GPU cores. It also comes with 256 GB of memory, a built-in camera for recording an a three-mic array for clear sound pickup.

2021 iMac Courtesy of Apple

  

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