Apple unveiled the first chip it had ever designed specifically for the Mac last November, and five months later, Nikkei reports that the next-generation Mac chip has already entered mass production. The follow-up to Apple’s M1 system-on-a-chip is aptly being referred to as the M2, and sources close to the company tell Nikkei that shipments of the M2 chip could begin as early as July for use in MacBook models launching in the second half of 2021.
Just like the M1, the M2 will be a system-on-a-chip. That means it has a central processing unit, graphics processing unit, and neural network hardware for machine learning — all in one. The M2 chips will be produced by Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) using the latest manufacturing process, which is known as 5 nanometer plus, or N5P. The chipsets take at least three months to produce.
This report from Nikkei came exactly a week after Apple announced that its new iMac desktop computer and its next iPad Pro model will feature the M1 chip. For years, the iPad has used the same A-series chips that could be found in iPhone models, but at its Spring Loaded event on April 20th, Apple announced that the M1 would be the successor to the A12Z in the 2021 iPad Pro. Apple says that the CPU performance is up to 50% faster while the GPU performance is up to 40% faster on the M1 than it was on the 2020 iPad Pro’s A12Z chip.
The Nikkei report didn’t go into detail about the specifications of the M2 chip, but last December, Bloomberg reported that Apple was “working on designs with as many as 16 power cores and four efficiency cores” for its next-generation chip that would ship in new iMac and MacBook Pro models. Apple’s M1 is a step up from the Intel chips it replaced in many ways, but by the time Apple completes its full transition to its own silicon in 2022, the goal would undoubtedly be to top Intel’s chipsets in every conceivable measurable category.
“It’s now an irreversible trend that Apple will eventually use only its own chips in its computer products.” IDC analyst Joey Yen told Nikkei Asia. “Macs have their own ecosystem as well as user base because they run on Apple’s own operating systems instead of Microsoft Windows. So far, Apple has made a successful debut, and the integrated experience has also been satisfying based on general customers’ feedback.”
As jam-packed as Apple’s spring event turned out to be, it sounds like there will be plenty more hardware to reveal in the months to come. In fact, a hacker group recently leaked purported schematics of unannounced Apple products as part of a blackmail attempt, including the upcoming 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models that are expected to feature Apple’s homegrown chips. Perhaps these will be the first to feature the M2.