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Apple's M2 chip - what to expect from the next Apple Silicon evolution

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Apple has yet to make the "M2" processor official, but details have already started to emerge about what to expect in Apple's second-generation Apple Silicon chip.

Likely arriving later this year, Apple's M2 chip will be the successor to Apple's first Mac-specific chip — the M1. Apple did release two variants on the M1, dubbed the M1 Pro and M1 Max that made their way to the redesigned MacBook Pro, which will still be more capable than the M2.

While we await Apple's announcement, here's what we expect to see from the M2.

New chip, better graphics

The M2 will likely take after the M1, utilizing a 5nm process and equipped with an eight-core CPU design. Rumors have said that the M2 will have a slightly higher clock speed on its cores, though not a dramatic uptick.

Apple's M1 is already a capable CPU, so a marginal speed increase isn't surprising.

Despite the meager CPU improvements, Apple looks to be beefing up the graphics. The new M2 will likely move from the currently-available seven or eight cores to a nine-core GPU with a ten-core option.

M2 compared to the M1 Pro and M1 Max

With the M2 increasing in speed and graphics performance, many inquiring minds will be interested in comparing it to Apple's high-end chipsets.

Fortunately, the M1 Pro and M1 Max will be more capable than the rumored M2. Both M1 Pro and M1 Max still have ten-core CPUs, two more than the rumored M2. The M1 Pro can have either a 14 or 16-core GPU, while the M1 Max can have either a 24 or 32-core GPU.

The M1 Pro and M1 Max have other benefits compared to the M1, and some of these will likely carry over to the M2. The M1 Pro and M1 Max have higher memory bandwidths and the ability to support more memory. The M1 Max can handle up to 64GB memory, while the M1 is capped at 16GB.

The M1 Pro and M1 Max have dedicated video encoders for video production. There is the possibility Apple may bring these to the entry-level M2. However, it seems more likely the company will retain these for the high-end chips.

When will we see the M2?

We expect Apple to release the M2 in the second half of 2022. Apple will probably continue its rollout of machines with the M1 Pro and M1 Max. Namely the rumored 27-inch iMac and high-end Mac mini.

Then we predict Apple will release the newly-redesigned MacBook Air, entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro, and possibly a new entry-level Mac mini.

It seems likely that the new iPad Pro will gain the M2 as well, just as the current generation has the M1.

Of course, all of this is subject to any number of delays. None of this is set and stone and purely based on rumors. While we believe this is what's most likely at the moment, only time will tell what Apple's plans are.