Apple started a real revolution with the M1 SoC (system-on-a-chip) in 2020. The Pro, Max and Ultra models are now followed by the second generation of the chip, the Apple M2, which is manufactured in a 5 nm process. It is initially used in the new MacBook Air 2022 and MacBook Pro 13 2022, where it offers up to 35 percent more performance compared to the M1.
Apple M2 in detail: focus on energy efficiency
One of the hottest new features Apple unveiled at its WWDC 2022 developer conference is the Apple M2 chip. Johny Srouji, SVP Hardware Technologies at Apple, details the second generation Apple Silicone processor in detail.
Unlike the competition, Apple once again focuses on energy efficiency and offers significantly more performance compared to the M1 chip with the same power consumption. The M2 is manufactured in the 5-Nm process and relies on 20 billion transistors – 25 percent more than in the case of the predecessor, M1.
Thanks to the transistors, the new chip achieves a memory bandwidth of 100 GB/s, 50 percent more than the M1. This means that the Apple M2 can support up to 24 GB of LPDDR5 memory, with high bandwidth and low latency available for the entire chip.
Apple M2 with next-gen CPU and GPU
The new CPU in the Apple M2 chip relies on eight cores, which is made up of four performance cores and four efficiency cores. Both types of cores are said to have been significantly improved, according to Apple.
The performance cores use an ultra-wide architecture. They have 192 KB of Intruction Cache, 128 KB of Data Cache and up to 16 MB of L3 Cache at their disposal. The efficiency cores offer 128 KB of Intruction Cache, 64 KB of Data Cache and 4 MB of L3 Cache.
Thus, the CPU performance of the M2 chip is said to be 18 percent higher than the performance of the M1 with the same power consumption. Compared to the “latest 10-core laptop CPU”, the performance is said to be 1.9 times higher with the same power consumption. The Apple M2 achieves the same performance with only a quarter of the energy of the classic x86 CPU.
Compared to a current 12-core Lapotop CPU, the M2 offers 87 percent of the performance with only a quarter of the power required. Here, it’s obvious exactly what Apple’s approach to power efficiency looks like.
The GPU in the M2 chip now relies on up to ten cores. Here, the graphics performance is supposed to be 35 percent higher than that of the M1 (including a larger L2 cache, 3.6 teraflops). Compared to the integrated graphics in the latest PC laptop chip, the M2’s CPU delivers 2.3 times faster performance at the same power level. And it does so with 80 percent less power consumption.
At the same time, the Neural Engine and Media Engine have been significantly improved. Thanks to the latter, the Apple M2 chip works particularly efficiently with image and video files, including support for H.264 files in 8K. De- and encoding of the ProRes codec is also supported, as is the use of external 6K displays.
The new Apple M2 chip will be used for the first time in the new MacBook Air 2022 and MacBook Pro 13, both of which are scheduled for release in July 2022. Presumably, the manufacturer will also use the new chip in other devices in the fall. A new Mac Mini, new iPads and much more are conceivable.