Apple introduced M1, its first desktop silicon, back in 2020, as a stepping stone for its transition from Intel to Arm. Subsequently, the following years saw the release of three more SoCs: M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra, each built on the same architecture and boasting significant performance and efficiency improvements over the other.

apple m2 chip
IMAGE: Apple

Now, to take things even further, Apple has announced a successor to the M1—the second generation of the M-series chips for its Macs—at the WWDC 2022. It’s called M2, and it promises to deliver a “more power-efficient performance”.

Let’s dive in to check out the all-new Apple M2 and find out how it differs from the M1 lineup.

Apple M2: What’s At the Core?

Apple’s latest silicon, the M2, is built on the same 5nm technology as the M1 lineup of SoCs. However, this time, Apple has included more transistors—25% more than the M1—which is said to improve M2’s overall capabilities.

apple m1 vs m2
IMAGE: Apple

For starters, Apple says the inclusion of more transistors means the memory controller on the M2 can deliver up to 100GB/s of unified memory bandwidth. This is 50% more than the M1 and, therefore, should result in better graphics processing and performance.

To top it off, the M2 even supports up to 24GB of unified memory, which should make it suitable for even larger and more complex workloads than its predecessors.

apple m2 chip
IMAGE: Apple

As we mentioned earlier, Apple is focusing on delivering more power-efficient performance with its latest chip, and this is apparent in the numbers the company shared during the announcement. According to Apple, the new CPU features a larger cache than the M1 silicon with faster performance cores and enhanced efficiency cores. This allows it to deliver an 18% greater multithreaded performance than the M1, which enables it to take on CPU-intensive tasks using very little power.

apple m2 cpu performance vs m1
IMAGE: Apple

To put this performance jump into perspective, Apple compared the M2’s CPU performance with that of the latest 10-core PC laptop chip. Here’s what they concluded:

  • Apple M2 offered nearly twice the performance at the same power level
  • It reached the peak performance of the PC chip while using a quarter of its power
m2 cpu performance vs 10-core cpu
IMAGE: Apple

Similarly, Apple also stacked the M2’s performance against the latest 12-core PC laptop chip and suggested that the M2 reaches nearly 90% of the 12-core chip’s performance while using just one-fourth of the power.

apple m2 vs 12-core pc laptop chip cpu performance
IMAGE: Apple

Of course, like always, Apple didn’t share which performance it was referring to in its comparisons and under what circumstances were these tests carried out. So, despite how impressive these numbers make the M2 sound, we’ll only know how true these numbers hold once the M2-powered Macs come out and are put to test in the real world.

Similar to CPU performance, graphics processing also gets a jump on the M2. The latest SoC now includes a 10-core GPU—two more than the M1. This increase in cores, combined with a larger cache and higher memory, is expected to offer a big boost in graphics performance on the M2.

apple m2 gpu performance vs m1
IMAGE: Apple

In terms of numbers, Apple says the M2 can deliver:

  • Up to 25% higher graphics performance than the M1 at the same power level
  • 35% better performance at its max power
m2 gpu performance vs 10-core pc laptop chip
IMAGE: Apple

To draw comparisons, Apple compared the GPU performance on the M2 to that of what’s found in the integrated graphics of the latest PC laptop chip. Here’s what its tests suggest:

  • M2 matches its peak performance using a fifth of the power
  • It offers 2.3x faster performance at the same power
apple m2 gpu power efficiency vs 10-core pc chip
IMAGE: Apple

All in all, Apple says that the increase in performance per watt on the M2 would enable it to run cooler and quieter while having a much better battery life—even in graphics-intensive tasks and gaming.

What Else Does the Apple M2 Offer?

Aside from a change in CPU and GPU performance, the all-new M2 chip also comes with the following:

  • An improved Neural Engine that can process up to 15.8 trillion operations per second—40% more than the M1
  • A new ISP that brings better image noise reduction
  • Improved media engine that includes a higher-bandwidth decoder, which brings support for 8K H.264 and HEVC video

Apple M2 and the Upcoming Macs

apple m2 specs
IMAGE: Apple

Apple is bringing the all-new M2 chip first on its all-new, completely redesigned MacBook Air and an updated 13-inch MacBook Pro. Given Apple’s claim that the M2 delivers power-efficient performance, the inclusion of M2 on the Air, which is now even slimmer than before, makes perfect sense, and it will be interesting to see how it handles heavy workloads and performs in day-to-day usage.

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