This month, Apple unveiled the M2 chip, the second generation custom silicon chip for the Mac. After the M1 chip revolutionized the Mac starting in November 2020, how much better is M2 really?
Apple says the M2 chip further improves the performance per watt of the M1 with an 18% faster CPU, 35% more powerful GPU and 40% faster Neural Engine. There are also other significant improvements such as increased memory bandwidth and support for up to 24GB of unified memory.
As a second major iteration of Apple silicon, it may not be clear how significant an improvement in the M2 over the M1 is, especially as it sticks to a 5nm manufacturing process, contrary to some rumors suggesting an increase in performance and output. higher efficiencies would be available. The M2 chip debuts in the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the redesigned MacBook Air, so the extent to which the M2 is better than its predecessor could be an important consideration when buying a new Mac. Read on to learn more about the differences. between the two chips.
- Made using TSMC’s 5nm process (N5)
- 16 billion transistors
- 4 high performance “Firestorm” cores
- 4 high energy efficiency “Icestorm” cores
- 3.2 GHz CPU clock speed
- The CPU cores first seen in the A14 Bionic chip of the iPhone 12 line
- 8-core GPU
- Support for 8GB or 16GB unified memory
- Memory bandwidth of 68.25 GB / s
- Neural engine
- Multimedia engine for H.264 with hardware acceleration and HEVC
- Video decoding engine
- Video encoding engine
- Image Signal Processor (ISP)
- Made with TSMC’s advanced 5nm process (N5P)
- 20 billion transistors
- 4 high performance “Avalanche” cores
- Energy efficient 4 core “Blizzard”
- CPU clock speed at 3.49 GHz
- The CPU cores first seen in the A15 Bionic chip from the iPhone 13 line
- 10-core GPU
- Support for 8GB, 16GB, or 24GB unified memory
- Memory bandwidth of 100 GB / s
- 40% faster neural engine.
- Hardware accelerated H.264 multimedia engine, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW
- Higher bandwidth video decoding engine
- Video encoding engine
- ProRes encoding and decoding engine
- “New” Image Signal Processor (ISP)
Manufacturing process and transistors
Like the A14 Bionic, the M1 chip is built using TSMC’s first-generation 5nm manufacturing process. On the other hand, M2 uses TSMC’s second generation 5nm process such as the A15 Bionic chip. The M2 adds four billion additional transistors for a total of 20 billion, 25% more than the M1. The advanced 5nm manufacturing process is at the heart of many of the M2 performance and efficiency improvements.
The M1 and M2 both have four high-performance and four energy-efficient cores, but while the M1 is equipped with the “Firestorm” and “Icestorm” cores of the A14 Bionic chip, the M2 offers “Avalanche” and “Blizzard” of the A15 Bionic Fried Potato. According to Apple, this translates into 18% higher multithreaded performance than M1.
In Geekbench’s early benchmarks, M2, which runs at 3.49 GHz compared to the M1’s 3.2 GHz, achieved a single-core score of 1,919, which is about 12% faster than the single-core 1,707 score. of the 13-inch MacBook M1 Pro. M2 achieved a multi-core score of 8,928, up about 20 percent from the M1 model’s score of 7,419. This is precisely in line with Apple’s claim that the M2 chip is up to 18 percent faster than the M1.
Both chips have high-performance cores with 192KB of L1 instruction cache and 128KB of L1 data cache. The energy-efficient cores have a 128KB L1 instruction cache, a 64KB L1 data cache, and a 4MB shared L2 cache. The only difference here is that the shared L2 cache is larger on the M2 chip: 16MB instead of 12MB on the M1.
The M2 features two more GPU cores than the M1, resulting in a moderate increase in graphics performance. Apple claims that the M2 has up to 25% better graphics performance than the M1 at the same power level and up to 35% better performance at its full power. In Geekbench Metal’s early benchmarks, the M2 chip scored 30,627, a notable improvement over the M1’s score of 21,001.
Both M1 and M2 have dedicated video encoding and decoding engines for hardware accelerated H.264 and HEVC, but the M2 video engines are also capable of accelerating ProRes and ProRes RAW to enable playback of multiple streams of 4K and 8K video . In addition, the media engine of M2 includes a higher bandwidth video decoder, which supports 8K H.264 and HEVC video.
M1 and M2 are available in configurations with 8GB or 16GB of unified memory, but M2 adds an additional 24GB configuration at a higher level. The memory controller of the M2 can also provide 100GB / s of unified memory bandwidth, a substantial improvement over the memory bandwidth of 68.25GB / s of the M1.
M2 features enhancements to many of Apple’s custom silicon technologies. For example, the Neural Engine can process up to 15.8 trillion operations per second, over 40% more than M1. The M2 also contains Apple’s latest Secure Enclave and a new Image Signal Processor (ISP) for improved image noise reduction.
Overall, the M2 chip offers moderate improvements over the M1, although most M1 users are unlikely to notice significant improvements when upgrading to M2. Advances in the M2 are generally useful, if not transformative, and the chip will certainly provide a more up-to-date experience with lower-spec Apple silicon machines, especially those coming from an Intel-based machine.
While M2 delivers improvements across the board thanks to its improved 5nm process, upgraded cores, and additional GPU cores, major updates come to users who need to work with video, as well as those who have intensive workflows. memory. M2 higher bandwidth video decoder and dedicated ProRes and ProRes RAW video engine provide significant enhancements for video editors, while the unified 24GB memory level and 100GB / s memory bandwidth increase significantly the ability of M2 machines to handle memory-intensive applications and intense multitasking.