So far, the Apple silicon SoC built into the MacBook Air and Pro 13 has been manufactured using the 5 nm process. “M2 Max”, “M2 Pro” and “M2 Ultra” could follow in 3 nm.
So far, Apple has only delivered its M2 chip in a standard version, which is currently in the MacBook Air M2 and MacBook Pro 13 M2 – two machines that are primarily aimed at users with lower performance requirements. But Apple plans to bring faster versions of its current SoC onto the market. According to reports from Asia, the Taiwanese manufacturer TSMC is currently preparing the relevant processes.
From 5 to 3 nm structure width
While the M2 has so far been manufactured in the 5 nm structure width (N5P), its brothers are to switch to the 3 nm process. This should make “M2 Pro”, “M2 Max” and possibly also “M2 Ultra” possible. Like the one appearing in Taiwan Commercial Times writes, the first corresponding chips should roll off the assembly line by the end of 2022. Apparently, the process at TSMC is ready for mass production as early as September.
According to the latest rumors, Apple is planning new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models and a new Mac mini. “M2 Pro” and “M2 Max” would be suitable for all three computers, and the MacBook Pro machines M1 Pro and M1 Max that were released in 2021 are currently running. It is still unclear when the devices will appear – the portable Macs would still be conceivable in the fall , the Mac mini M2 probably more likely in spring 2022. 3 nm processes will soon also be used for the iPhone – but probably only for the 2023 year (“Apple A17”) in the “iPhone 15 Pro” and “iPhone 15 Pro Max “. The iPad Pro, in turn, could reach the regular M2 chip in the 5 nm process.
ARM switch almost complete
The smaller structural width allows more transistors per chip, promising higher performance with lower power consumption. It is still unclear whether there will also be an “M2 Ultra”. The Ultra chips, which consist of two connected SoC units, are currently only used in the Mac Studio, which was released in spring 2022. The compact workstation is therefore not likely to be updated before spring 2023, but it could definitely remain the same for longer.
Apple’s switch to ARM processors for the Mac is currently missing two series: Mac mini – which has long been speculated as to whether it will continue to be built at all – and the Mac Pro. The latter should actually be announced at least this year so that Apple’s schedule is met. In addition to the SoC selection, the question of how Apple deals with expansion cards is particularly exciting here – PCIe for Apple Silicon does not yet exist, nor do eGPUs via Thunderbolt.