Apple has just announced its next generation of Apple silicon, Apple M2. This is a new chip with improved CPU cores, GPU power, and a sophisticated new 2nd generation 5nm process node – totaling over 20 billion transistors in total. Everything he says once again is going to kick Intel’s comparative chips. But of course I would say that.
If you missed all the Apple/Intel drama, long story short: Apple kicked Intel processors out of most of its laptops and replaced them with a chip of its own design called the Apple M1 in 2020. This original M1 chip was later iterated with the M1 Pro and M1 Max, two powerful processors in their own right, but essentially chips created from fundamental M1 silicon.
Today, Apple announced its second-generation silicon with a few key improvements that set it completely apart from the M1 silicon. The M2 even offers an eight-core CPU made up of high-performance, high-efficiency cores, not unlike the first M1 or Intel’s latest 12th-gen Alder Lake chips, however Apple says its high-performance cores are faster and come with more cache. Its high-efficiency cores are also more efficient. Organized.
And here comes the ‘fuck Intel’ graphics. Apple has already put some impressive (opens in new tab) (and occasionally idealistic (opens in new tab)) together showing how their processors stack up against Intel and Nvidia, and the same is done here today. At least it’s just targeting the former Intel bedmate this time.
Apple says the M2 is capable of delivering around 120% of Intel’s performance Core i7 1255U (opens in new tab) using less energy. He also says the chip is admittedly worse than Intel’s 12-core. Core i7 1260P (opens in new tab) but that requires much less energy, around 25%, to get close.
These comparisons aren’t made to Intel’s faster P-series or U-series processors, and they’re not quite the same high-performance H-series or HX-series processors we’re used to seeing inside gaming laptops. We’ll have to wait and see how the M2 chip fares against these high-performance chips. That’s not the comparison Apple is likely to care too much about, however, preferring to focus on the thinner and lighter laptop market.
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A part of the M2 upgrade will undoubtedly be the new second-generation 5nm process node being used for the M2, which will be from its firm manufacturing partner, TSMC. TSMC also manufactures all AMD processors and GPUs and some Intel ones. A smaller process node helps Apple put more on its chips. While Apple’s M1 chips also use a 5nm process node, there’s probably not a huge amount of space gained. The chip definitely looks a little bigger in the photo above, but there’s a good reason for that.
Apple is putting up to 10 cores of its integrated graphics in the M2, two more than in the M1, and this will help improve the graphics performance of Intel’s Core i5 U-series chip, the company says.
Again, though, there are no other comparisons made here, and Apple isn’t too keen on saying how it achieved these numbers either, only that it uses “selected industry standard benchmarks”. So we were left guessing some more.
Apple is strong when it comes to memory, though. Offers up to 24GB of LPDDR5 and 100GB/s of memory bandwidth. There’s also a new higher-bandwidth video decoder that supports 8K H264 and HEVC.
It all makes for an impressive package, no doubt, but one that we can’t yet weigh apples with apples (or oranges with oranges) for. This is what happens with Apple’s ARM powered silicon, it’s really a departure from the x86 silicon designed by Intel or AMD, but solid in its own right.
The M2 chip will arrive in Apple’s new Macbook Air laptop and 13-inch Macbook Pro starting next month.