The Next Mac Chips: What We Know So Far

The Next Mac Chips: What We Know So Far

The Next Mac Chips: What We Know So Far

When Apple released the M1 chip late last year, two things were clear: Macs were much faster, and the future was incredibly bright. What we didn’t know was how Apple would handle the upgrades now that the entry-level models were as fast as some of the Pro machines. At the time, Apple said it was developing “a family of chips” that would be unveiled as the The transition will continue for the next two years, and now that it seems that all Mac M1s have been released, we are eagerly awaiting the next one. He passed.

The timeline is a bit clearer now. Now that Apple has updated its entire lineup of consumer-grade Macs with the M1 chip in the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and 24-inch iMac, rumors are gathering about the next round of based Macs. Apple silicone. . According to the latest speculation, Apple will follow a similar cadence to the A-series chips in the iPhone and iPad, but with much more power between generations.

The current Apple M1 processor is based on the 5nm A14 chip, the first came to the iPad Air and then the iPhone 12. It has 4 high-performance cores with 192KB of L1 instruction cache and 128KB of L1 data cache and 12MB Shared L2 Cache and 4 Low Power Cores with 128KB Instruction Cache, 64KB L1 Data Cache, and 4MB Shared L2 Cache. That makes a total of 8 cores evenly split between power and efficiency, generating huge speed increases over previous models. The system-on-a-chip also has an 8-core GPU in most models (the entry-level MacBook Air and 24-inch iMac have a 7-core GPU) with 128 execution units and up to 24,576 concurrent threads.


The memory has also changed. With the M1, the LP-DDR4 memory isn’t just soldered onto the motherboard, it’s actually part of the chip itself. That means it’s faster and more efficient than before, but it’s also a bit more limited – you can only get 8GB or 16GB on a Mac M1 and there’s no way to upgrade after purchase. (That won’t come as a surprise to MacBook buyers, but unfortunately the same applies to desktop models.) And finally, the chip has a 16-core neural engine, along with Secure Enclave and USB4 / Thunderbolt support.

M1X – End of 2021

We started hearing about the development of an M1X chip earlier this year, and it looks like it will appear in the redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro later this year. Like the A12X in the 2018 iPad Pro, it will be built on the same architecture as the existing M1 processor, but will provide faster overall performance.

The Next Mac Chips: What We Know So Far

A redesigned 16-inch MacBook Pro will likely showcase the M1X processor.


According to CPU Monkey, which claims to have received benchmarks for the next chip, the M1X could have a 12-core CPU with 10 high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores, and a 16-core GPU with 256 execution units and a cache. 32GB shared L2 and up to 64GB of LPDDR4X. In a slightly different version, Mark Gurman has reported slightly different M1X CPU specs, with eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores.

Based on what we know from previous “X” releases, that makes sense. For example, the A12 in the iPhone Xs was a six-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, while the A12X was an eight-core chip with four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. .

Those specs would give Apple’s top-end Mac M1Xs a nice performance boost over the current crop of M1 machines. They are also rumored to provide support for four Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports.

M2 – Early 2022

Apple’s M2 chip will likely arrive in the next MacBook Air, which is looking to get a complete redesign with new colors to match the 24-inch iMac. According to Bloomberg, Apple’s next-generation processor “will include the same number of compute cores as the M1, but it will run faster.” That’s similar to how Apple approaches updates to the A-series, which has had six cores since the A11 processor despite vastly improved performance. When it comes to the GPU, Bloomberg reports that the cores will increase from seven or eight to nine or 10.

The Next Mac Chips: What We Know So Far

The colorful redesign of the MacBook AIr could be the first M2 machine.


We don’t know yet how the speeds compare, but based on previous chips, we can expect the M2 processor to be a bit slower than the M1X chip. The same limitations on USB4 / Thunderbolt and RAM are likely to remain as well, as Apple is establishing non-X chips as consumer products for less demanding users.

M2X – End of 2022

Apple is reportedly planning an even more advanced chip for the Mac Pro and possibly a larger iMac. The chip is likely to have various performance tiers, which could “come in 20 or 40 variations of computing cores, made up of 16 high-performance cores or 32 high-performance cores and four or eight high-efficiency cores,” according to a report. from Bloomberg. . The workstation caliber chip is also rumored to have 64- or 128-core options for graphics, which would replace AMD GPUs in current models. Those specs are comparable to what Intel and AMD offer on their top-of-the-line chips and would challenge faster PCs, at least on paper.

The Next Mac Chips: What We Know So Far

Apple is reportedly developing a new Mac Pro with an incredibly powerful custom chip inside.


Apple could very well call this chip the M2X, but since the Mac Pro processor would represent such a big leap from even the rumored chips, it will likely part ways with a whole new naming system. Z ”identifier on chips to indicate improved graphics performance.) Mark Gurman reported that the next iMac will likely use the M1X or M2X chip in the next iMac, but it is unclear whether he is referring to this chip or a lower powered M2 variant.

It’s also possible that Apple would pair two M1X chips inside the Mac Pro to improve performance, a tactic it last used with the Power Mac G4 in 2001. But nonetheless Apple plans to do it, expect the new Mac Pro to deliver a tremendous speed that exceeds the current model and meets ultra-high computing demands. This chip and this machine will not be for mere mortals, but luckily Apple has a lot in the works.

Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology dates back to his first PC: the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard to change the drive. Still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.