Next-gen Apple Silicon ‘M2’ chip reportedly enters production, included in MacBooks in second half of year

According to Nikkei, the next-generation of Apple silicon — tentatively dubbed “M2” — has entered the production cycle. Chip ramps are slow, and Nikkei indicates that beginning production now means the chips would be available in mass supply as soon as July. This schedule likely means they will be included in new MacBook models in the fall, probably the upcoming revamped MacBook Pro line.

The 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU M1 chip architecture delivered impressive performance and battery life when it debuted in the first Apple Silicon Macs last fall. Apple used the same chip in the just-announced iMac and 2021 iPad Pro. However, the chip has some limitations that pro users are hoping will be addressed in the second-generation.

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Most notably, the M1 chip only supports a maximum of two Thunderbolt ports and allows for just one external display output. For instance, in the fall Apple launched the two-Thunderbolt-port 13-inch MacBook Pro model with the M1chip, but the 4-port 13-inch MacBook Pro remains in the lineup.

Also while the M1 chip delivers incredible power efficiency and raw power, it does not outstrip higher-end Intel Macs on all benchmarks. Specifically, the integrated graphics of the M1 chip do not match up to dedicated graphics cards included in high-spec iMacs or MacBook Pros. The expectation is that the M2 chip (or “M1X,” however it is branded) will add more CPU and GPU performance, more Thunderbolt lanes, and allow for at least two external displays.

The M1 chip is made up of an 8-core CPU and an 8-core GPU with unified RAM architecture. Last year, Bloomberg said Apple was developing a successor to the M1 featuring 20 CPU cores destined for its high-end laptops. ARM Mac desktops like the Mac Pro or iMac Pro could feature 32-core chip designs.

In today’s report, Nikkei says that the M2 will continue to integrate CPU, GPU and the Neural Engine on the same chip. However, it does not go into any more detail on the chip’s specifications.

Apple is widely rumored to be readying new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, featuring Apple Silicon internals in a new chassis design, featuring the return of MagSafe, SD card reader and HDMI ports. Schematics of the as-yet-unannounced products were released in the recent REvil ransomware leak.

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Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.