Apple Debuts Second Family of In-house Processors: M2 Pro and M2 Max
The new chips from Apple usher in the company’s second generation of in-house silicon for Macbooks.
When Apple releases hardware, the buzz in the industry is palpable. The Cupertino-based company first released its in-house-designed M1 processor lineup in late 2020, marking a significant moment in the computing industry.
Now, over a year after the release of the original Apple M1, Apple is making waves once again with the release of its M2 lineup. Claiming more transistors, better performance, and better power efficiency than anything else on the market, the M2 family is being received with great intrigue.
The M2 Pro and M2 Max.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the two new M2-family processors to see how they stack up to the M1 family.
The M2 Pro
Apple is releasing two new processors: The M2 Pro and the M2 Max.
The M2 Pro is essentially a scaled-up version of the M1 Pro, featuring a 12-core CPU (eight performance and four efficient) and a 19-core configurable GPU. The M1 Pro only featured a 10-core CPU (eight performance and two efficient) and a 16-core GPU. Similar to the M1 Pro, however, the M2 Pro supports 32 GB of fast unified memory with the same bandwidth of 200 GB/s.
M2 Pro silicon layout.
Additionally, the new M2 Pro features an improved 16-core neural engine capable of 15.8 trillion operations per second—up to 40% faster than the M1 Pro. To integrate these extra cores, as well as other improved features, the M2 Pro consists of 40 billion transistors on a 5nm node, 20% more than M1 Pro’s 33.7 billion.
According to Apple, the new processor outshines the previous generation in places like multithreaded CPU performance, which is improved by 20%, and graphics processing, which is improved by 30%. Thanks to these improvements and the relatively small form factor, the M2 Pro will be used to power the next generation of Mac Mini as well as 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros.
The M2 Max
Along with the M2 Pro, Apple also unveiled its M2 Max, a larger, more performant option in the M2 lineup.
M2 Max silicon layout.
Expanding on the M2 Pro, the M2 Max takes a similar architecture and scales it even larger. The M2 Max consists of a 38-core GPU, up to 400 Gb/s of unified memory bandwidth (double that of the M2 Pro), and up to 96 GB of unified memory (three times that of the M2 Pro). Compared to the M1 Max, this equates to six more GPU cores and an extra 32 GB of unified memory. Despite the larger GPU, M2 Max features the same 12-core CPU as M2 Pro.
With a whopping 67 billion transistors—10 billion more than M1 Max and 27 billion more than M2 Pro—the M2 Max is being called the “most power-efficient chip for a pro laptop” on the market. Thanks to this transistor count, the M2 Max will power the high-end variants of the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, extending battery life while simultaneously bringing unprecedented performance levels.
What’s Next for Apple?
With this week's releases, Apple has continued its march toward all in-house silicon. The announcement of the first two SoCs in the M2 family comes on the heels of Apple's reported plans to replace Broadcom and Skyworks components currently used in iPhones to develop its own Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips.
If history indicates Apple’s next moves, it's very likely that we could see the eventual release of an M2 Ultra chip—a supersized SoC consisting of two or more M2 Max chips on the same package.
All images courtesy of Apple