When Apple unveiled the first-generation custom M1 chip last November, buyers were surprised to realize that the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini were all powered by the same M1 processor. The M1 Air does also come in a version with a pared-down 7-core GPU aside from the main 8-core GPU version as the M1 Pro and Mac mini. Then a few weeks ago, Apple revealed it put the same M1 chip inside the 2021 iPad Pro versions and the 2021 iMac. And the iMac comes with 7-core and 8-core GPU variations too. This means all these devices will deliver essentially the same impressive power and performance. The main difference might be Macs with active cooling will offer users more extended peak performance than the MacBook Air, which lacks a cooling fan.
The early wave of M1 MacBook Air and Pro reviews proved the System-on-Chip (SoC) that Apple created delivers remarkable performance and battery life, prompting a massive anti-M1 MacBook campaign from Intel. The US chipmaker knows that the M1 is only the beginning and that it’s the kind of milestone that will convince others to follow suit. A new report from a well-known source of Apple scoops tells us that the next-gen M-series SoC that will power this year’s 2021 MacBook Pro models, and “will greatly outpace the performance and capabilities of the current M1 chips.”
Sources said to be familiar with Apple’s plans have shared detailed specs with Bloomberg for the upcoming Mac models sporting M-series chips. The report says Apple will release several Mac models with faster processors, new designs, and improved connectivity in the coming months.
The new MacBook Pros will launch as soon as this summer, followed by a redesigned MacBook Air, a new low-end MacBook Pro, and a new Mac Pro. A higher-end Mac mini and a larger iMac are also in the works.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro (codenamed J314) and 16-inch MacBook Pro (J316) will bring over a new design, but the new chassis isn’t the only change. They’ll feature a magnetic MagSafe charger and more ports, including an HDMI port and an SD card slot. The new Pros will feature two different chips codenamed Jade C-Chop and Jade C-Die. They’ll include eight high-performance cores and two energy-efficient cores. The GPU goes to either 16 or 32 cores. The M1 comes with four high-performance cores and four efficient cores, and it’s available in 7-core or 8-core GPU variations.
The MacBook Pros will support up to 64GB of RAM, up from the 16GB limit on the M1 machines. A Neural Engine upgrade is also in the works, and the laptops will include more Thunderbolt ports. The current models only have two Thunderbolt connectors, a feature Intel criticized in its anti-Apple ad campaigns.
The new Mac mini (J374) will feature the same M-series chip as the new MacBook Pros and four ports. But Apple could delay or cancel the launch of the more powerful Mac mini, Bloomberg notes.
The Mac Pro will also get the M-series treatment in 2022. The report says buyers will have access to two processors that will be either twice or four times as powerful as the high-end MacBook Pros. The Jade 2C-Die and Jade 4C-Die SoC will come with 20 or 40 computing core variations, respectively. They’ll feature 16 or 32 high-performance cores and four or eight efficiency cores. Graphics will go up to 64 or 128 cores.
Bloomberg also says that a bigger iMac is also in development, but work on the larger model was paused months ago so Apple could focus on launching the 24-inch iMac.
The 2021 MacBook Air will feature a direct successor to the M1, codenamed Staten. The SoC will include the same number of CPU cores as the M1, but they’ll be faster. GPU cores would increase from 7 or 8 to 9 or 10. The new low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro will get the same chip as the Air.
Finally, come 2022, Apple will supposedly replace another key Intel component with an in-house version — the USB Retimer, which powers USB-C and Thunderbolt ports.
Recent reports said that Apple might experience delays with the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, citing mini-LED display issues and potential coronavirus-related production issues in Taiwan. Bloomberg’s report made no mention of the mini-LED screens. A different leak a few days ago offered us a first look at the purported MacBook Air redesign.