M1 vs. M2 CPU: Key Variations Between Apple SoCs

On the WWDC 2022 opening keynote, Apple formally unveiled the subsequent era of M2 SoC for the Mac and iPad platforms. Though the M2 SoC shares the identical manufacturing course of (5nm) because the M1 CPU, there are a number of enhancements throughout the board that deserves a special naming scheme. Right here’s how M2 differs from the unique M1 CPU and whether or not it’s price upgrading out of your present M1 MacBook Air or Professional.

Apple M1 vs. M2 SoC

Apple is touting higher CPU and GPU efficiency with out affecting the stellar battery life on M2. The comparability beneath relies on CPU, GPU, reminiscence capability, transistors, manufacturing course of, and extra.

SoC M1 M2
Manufacturing course of 5nm course of (TSMC) Second-gen 5nm course of (TSMC)
CPU 8-core (4 excessive efficiency and 4 excessive environment friendly cores) 8-core (4 excessive efficiency and 4 excessive environment friendly cores)
GPU 8-Core 2.6 TFLOPS Subsequent era 10-core 3.6 TFLOPS
Reminiscence Controller LPDDR4 LPDDR5
Reminiscence Capability 16GB 24GB
Transistors 16 Billion 20 Billion
Encode/Decode 4K
H.264, H.265
H.264, H.265, ProRes, ProRes RAW

Manufacturing Course of

When evaluating any two SoC side-by-side, you first must verify the method on which the corporate is manufacturing the CPU. Whereas the M1 CPU used TSMC’s 5nm manufacturing course of, Apple is claiming to make use of the second-generation 5nm course of for M2.

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Whereas M1 was derived from A14 iPhone SoC, M2 appears to be on the derivation of the A15 SoC – which by the best way is manufactured on the identical TSMC 2nd gen 5nm course of. You’ll be able to verify the die measurement reference to grasp the dimensional variations between the M1 and M2. Apple used the additional house to pack extra transistors (20 billion in comparison with M1’s 16 billion) ⏤ a wholesome 25% improve from its predecessor. All these add-ons translate to enhancements in CPU and GPU efficiency. Let’s speak about them.

CPU Efficiency

M2 makes use of an 8-core CPU structure. It’s much like M1 with 4 high-performance cores and 4 high-efficiency cores. Even with the identical structure and manufacturing course of, Apple is promoting an 18% CPU efficiency enchancment. So how come Apple managed to ship double-digit multi-threaded efficiency good points over M1?

Whereas Apple didn’t disclose CPU era cores for M2, the most recent CPU appears to be utilizing Avalanche/Blizzard cores for efficiency and effectivity cores. It delivers a modest efficiency improve in comparison with M1’s Firestorm/Icestorm cores combo.

The higher efficiency additionally comes from extra (16MB) L2 cache shared amongst all cores relative to M1’s 12MB.

GPU Efficiency

M2 GPU performance compared to M1

The M1 CPU was by no means identified for its GPU would possibly. With the M2 improve, Apple is lastly addressing GPU efficiency with over 35% enchancment over M1. M2 packs the subsequent era 10-core GPU over 8-core GPU in M1. This will likely have an effect on the general battery lifetime of M2 gadgets. You received’t discover the GPU enhancements within the mild workflow however M2 ought to fare higher in heavy and fixed GPU-intensive duties.

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Reminiscence Capability

Whereas the M1 CPU solely supported LPDDR4x reminiscence, M2 is lastly boarding the newer LPDDR5 reminiscence normal. M1 Professional and M1 Max already use LPDDR5 and it’s good to see Apple including the identical to their price range M-series SoC.

The vanilla M1 CPU was maxed out at 16GB RAM. M2 extends the assist for as much as 24GB RAM. That’s why we’ve the newer M2 MacBook Air and Professional with as much as 24GB RAM within the providing.


As talked about above, the M2 CPU comes with 20 billion transistors which are 4B greater than M1 and 5B greater than A15 SoC (on which the M2 relies).

Exterior Show Help

The exterior show assist for brand spanking new M2 chips stays the identical because the M1. It helps just one exterior show with as much as 6K decision at a 60Hz refresh fee. For extra multi exterior show assist, you will need to improve to M1 Professional or M1 Max.

Availability and Gadget Help

The primary line of gadgets that includes an M2 CPU is MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Professional – accessible from July 2022. Down the road, we anticipate Apple to launch new iPad Professional and iPad Air fashions and an all-new Mac mini with M2 at coronary heart. M1 gadgets aren’t going away anytime quickly although. Apple is holding the M1 MacBook and Mac mini on the cabinets for these on a decent price range.

M2 Is a Welcome Improve Over M1

Apple has addressed all M1 shortcomings with M2. Whereas M2 isn’t a revolutionary improve because the M1 (over Intel SoCs), it builds up on a powerful basis laid by M1.

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In case your M1 Mac is sweating whereas performing GPU intensive duties, or working out of on-device reminiscence ceaselessly, you possibly can improve to M2 gadgets once they hit the cabinets.