That’s all we know so far

Anand Tech He’s taken a deep dive into the new M2 chip that was announced yesterday, with a particular focus on the performance of the M1 chip versus the M2. These chips are available in the all-new MacBook Air, and in an updated version of the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The site says that while Apple has been more shy than ever when it comes to details on the chip (for example, the clock speed), we already know a few things…

M1 chip vs. M2 chip: Similar to A14 vs. A15 chip

Anand TechOverall, Ryan Smith says, the upgrade looks similar to that of the A14 chip to the A15.

From a high, there have been a limited number of changes with the M2 – or at least as much as Apple wants to reveal at this time – focusing on a few critical areas, versus the richness that was the initial M1 SoC. While all of this is preliminary before releasing more information from Apple or getting hands-on time with the hardware itself, the M2 is more like a derivative of the A15 SoC, similar to how the M1 is derived from the A14. As a result, at first glance, the upgrade from the M1 to the M2 looks very similar to the upgrade from the A14 to the A15.

Apple said the M2 chip is based on a “second generation 5nm process,” which definitely means the TSMC 5NP process. This boosts performance without increasing the transistor density, and this is supported by the main illustration showing that the M2 chip is actually larger than the M1 (photo above).

M1 vs M2 in numbers

Smith helpfully combined all the data that Apple shared into a single comparison table.

Efficiency cores are stronger

Anand Tech He points out that the main difference between M1 and M2 chips is that the latter have more powerful efficiency cores.

The M2 retains Apple 4 performance as well as 4 core efficiency configurations. Apple doesn’t reveal what generation of CPU cores it’s using here, but based on performance and timing expectations, there’s every reason to believe these are the Avalanche and Blizzard cores first introduced on the A15 […]

The avalanche provides only modest performance gains, with Apple investing most of its improvements in improving overall energy efficiency […]

Based on what we’ve already seen with the A15, this biggest update of this generation is all about the essential efficiency side of things. Increasingly, Blizzard CPU cores behave like non-small cores, offering relatively high performance and a much broader back design than we see with other Arm efficiency cores.

35% faster GPU, but at a power cost

Overall, the M2 GPU appears to be more power efficient – but if you want to use full power, it will use more power than the M1.

Apple offers two performance figures for the M2’s GPU. At iso-power (~12W), the M2 should provide 25% faster GPU performance than the M1. However, the M2’s GPU can, for better or worse, draw more power than the M1’s GPU. At full power of 15W, according to Apple, it can provide 35% more performance.

More importantly, the base M2 chip gets support for Apple’s ProRes and ProRes RAW codecs, which are only available on the Pro, Max and Ultra versions of the M1.

50% increase in memory bandwidth

Another thing that the base M2 borrows from the more powerful versions of the M1 chip is LPDDR5 memory support, as opposed to the base M1’s LPDDR4. This chip gives about 50% more memory bandwidth, which will definitely help the performance of the GPU.

No I/O improvements

Smith says that the specifications Apple provides for USB and other I/O protocols appear unchanged from the M1. Apple hasn’t said anything about the PCIe capabilities of the M2, so that probably won’t change either.

As always with files Anand Tech In pieces, it is well worth the read.

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