M2 Pro and M2 Max Could Offer Massive Performance Leap Over M2

Apple's "M2 Pro" and "‌M2‌ Max" chips may deliver even bigger performance improvements over the standard ‌M2‌ chip than previously expected, according to recent reports.

M2 Pro and Max Feature
Following the way that the M1 Pro and M1 Max are built on the M1 chip, the ‌M2‌ Pro and ‌M2‌ Max could feature the same number of CPU cores as their predecessors, but add GPU cores and benefit from overall speed and efficiency gains. Beyond these improvements, it now looks like the ‌M2‌ Pro and ‌M2‌ Max will be built on a fundamentally different process to the standard ‌M2‌ chip, leading to a considerable performance boost.

According to a recent report from Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, the ‌M2‌ Pro and "M3" will be the first Apple chips to be manufactured with TSMC's 3nm process. "Apple reportedly has booked TSMC capacity for its upcoming 3nm ‌M3‌ and ‌M2‌ Pro processors," DigiTimes claimed, in a report focused on competition between chipmakers like TSMC and Samsung to secure 3nm chip orders. As expected, the report added TSMC will begin volume production of 3nm chips in the second half of 2022.

In a recent newsletter, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said he expects the ‌M2‌ Pro to be used in the 14-inch MacBook Pro, 16-inch MacBook Pro, and a high-end Mac mini. As for the ‌M3‌, Gurman expects the chip to be used in an updated 13-inch MacBook Air, an all-new 15-inch ‌MacBook Air‌, a new iMac, and potentially a new 12-inch MacBook. Apple is also believed to be working on "M2 Ultra" and "M2 Extreme" chips for the next-generation Mac Pro.

In all likelihood, the ‌M2‌ Max would also be manufactured based on a 3nm process if this report is correct. That chip would be suitable for the highest-end MacBook Pro configurations, and the Mac Studio if Apple chooses to update that computer within the next year or so.

While it was widely expected that the ‌M3‌ would be fabricated with a 3nm process, it is more notable that the ‌M2‌ Pro might be as well, given that the standard ‌M2‌ chip that debuted in the new ‌MacBook Air‌ and 13-inch MacBook Pro remains built based on TSMC's 5nm process. Both the ‌M1‌ and ‌M1 Pro‌ chips share the same process, so the ‌M2‌ and ‌M2‌ Pro being built with completely different manufacturing processes would represent a change of course for Apple silicon. If DigiTimes's report is accurate, the performance delta between the ‌M2‌ Pro and ‌M2‌ could be much greater than between the ‌M1 Pro‌ and ‌M1‌.

It is not yet known exactly when the first ‌M2‌ Pro and ‌M2‌ Max Macs will be released, but a report from Taiwan's Commercial Times suggests Apple plans to update its custom silicon chips for the Mac every 18 months, unlike the iPhone and Apple Watch, which get a new processor every year. In accordance with this timescale, the ‌‌M2‌‌ Pro and ‌M2‌‌ Max will debut in the first half of 2023. This timeframe broadly lines up with Gurman's expectations for the launch of new MacBook Pro models with ‌M2‌ Pro and ‌M2‌ Max chips, which he believes will not launch until 2023.

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