Apple is developing a next-generation version of the M1 Apple silicon chip, which will tentatively be called the "M2." The M2 is believed to be shipping in 2022, and current rumors suggest that it could be a replacement for the M1.
What We Know
There are actually several successors to the M1 chip in the works at Apple's labs in Cupertino, and the M2 may not be the next Apple silicon chip released. Apple is working on an "M1X" chip and an "M2" chip, and the M1X may actually come out first.
Rumors suggest an "M1X" chip is going to be used in the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, while the "M2" might be reserved for a next-generation MacBook Air that's coming in 2022. Of course, Apple could switch things up and what we're expecting to be the M1X could actually be the M2, so we're still waiting to see just what naming scheme Apple uses for the separate Apple silicon followup chips coming in 2021 and 2022.
CPU and GPU Rumors
Apple is working on higher-end Apple silicon chips that are expected to "significantly outpace" the performance of the latest Macs that still run Intel chips. Apple's next two M-series chip lines are said to be even "more ambitious" than expected.
Apple is working on Apple silicon chip designs with as many as 16 power cores and four efficiency cores, and for higher-end desktop machines, Apple is testing a variant that has as many as 32 high-performance cores. Alongside CPU improvements, Apple is working on 16 and 32-core GPUs for the next Apple silicon chips, and testing is being done on pricier options that could include 64 and 128 cores. The GPUs will be "several times faster" than the current GPUs that Apple uses in high-end Intel machines.
These rumors pertain to the M1X chips that are designed for the MacBook Pro models, and not the M2 that could be used for future Macs. We don't yet have information on how the M2 chips will compare.
The M2 could also be used in lower-end versions of future MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac mini models, but we have little information the products that will adopt the M2 at this point.
After the M2
Apple is planning to transition all of its Mac products over to the M-series Apple silicon chips in the future, so we will likely continue to see iterations and improvements to the chip lineup. Apple has continually refreshed the A-series chips used in iPhones each year, and we're expecting the same regular upgrades for the Apple silicon chips.
More on Apple Silicon and the M1
If you want to know more about Apple's plans for its Apple silicon chips, or the M1 that's used in the current MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac machines, we have dedicated Apple silicon and M1 chip guides. We also have a guide that's focused on the M1X chip expected in the MacBook Pro models.
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