Apple debuted the new M2 processor, a chip that enhances core processing performance by 18% over the M1 without hurting battery life in the company’sand 13-inch MacBook Pro laptops.
The 18% speed increase comes from the M2’s redesigned central processing units. The processor has four quick CPU cores and four efficient cores, a hybrid approach drawn from the smartphone world. By redesigning the graphics processing units and increasing their count up to a maximum of 10 instead of eight for the M1, GPU performance is 35% faster. Overall, the new MacBook Air is 20% faster at Photoshop image editing and 38% faster at Final Cut Pro video editing, Apple said.
“We continue to have a relentless focus on power-efficient performance,” Johny Srouji, Apple hardware team leader, said at the .
Power efficiency is important to shrink laptops since the most significant component is the battery. The new MacBook Airs take up 20% less volume but still have a long, 18-hour battery life, Apple said. The company also is using the M2 in a new 13-inch MacBook Pro.
The M2 processor also has a significant memory boost, reaching up to 24GB instead of 16GB for the M1. Memory is important, especially as software gets bigger and laptops have years-long lifespans. M series chips build memory directly into the processor package for fast performance, but it’s not upgradable.
and began shipping it later that year in the earlier version of the MacBook Air. The M1, along with beefier successors called the M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra hit an effective balance between performance and battery life and earned strong reviews.
The M2 doubles down on the same balanced approach, offering updated processing cores that are variants of the chips at the heart of newer iPhones. The new chips continue the gradual ejection of Intel processors from the Mac family of personal computers and could enable the last Intel-powered member, the Mac Pro, to switch to Apple chips.
Designing processors is a costly, complex undertaking. But with the M series chips, Apple takes advantage of the A-series chip design work it already does for its iPhones and iPads, then pays Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to build the chips on its state-of-the-art product lines.
The M2 is built on TSMC‘s 5nm (5 nanometers) manufacturing process, but it’s an improved version of the one used for the M1. TSMC is working on a more cutting-edge 3nm process that should let customers pack in somewhat more transistors, the core electronics elements that process data on a chip.
The M2 has 20 billion transistors, a 25% increase over the M1, Apple revealed.