Apple Silicon M1 Series vs. M2 Comparison!

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Apple just launched the M2 – their second-generation M-series system-on-a-chip (SoC) for Mac computers!

Let’s compare the new M2 against the last-generation M1 series SoCs!

 

Apple Silicon M1 vs. M2 Comparison

On 6 June 2022, Apple unveiled their second-generation M-series system-on-a-chip (SoC) for Mac computers – the Apple Silicon M2!

Built on an improved 5 nm process technology, the Apple M2 has 20 billion transistors – 25% more transistors than the M1.

All those transistors allow the Apple M2 to deliver better performance than the last-generation M1 :

  • Faster Performance cores with a larger cache
  • 18% faster CPU performance
  • 35% more powerful GPU at max. power
  • 40% faster Neural Engine
  • 50% more memory bandwidth
  • up to 24 GB of unified memory
  • a new image signal processor (ISP) for better image noise reduction

Apple Silicon M1 Series vs. M2 Comparison!

The new M2 no doubt offers a significant boost in performance and capabilities over the M1.

On top of that, it partially addressed the limited Unified Memory capacity offered by the M1, by offering a 24 MB option.

The new M2 will debut in the 2022 MacBook Air, and the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022 laptops.

To give you a better idea of how they compare, here is our direct comparison b between the Apple M1 and the Apple M2 :

Specifications M1 M2 Difference
Fab Tech 5nm (N5) 5 nm (N5P)
Transistor
Count
16 billion 20 billion +25%
Die Size 120 mm² NA
CPU Cores
(Performance)
4 x Firestorm
@ 3.2 GHz
4 x Avalanche cores
@ NA GHz
CPU Cores
(Efficiency)
4 x Icestorm cores
@ 2.06 GHz
4 Blizzard cores
@ NA GHz
L2 Cache P-core : 12 MB
E-core : 4 MB
P-core : 16 MB
E-core : 4 MB
P-core : +33%
SLC 16 MB 32 MB +100%
GPU Cores 7 / 8 cores
1278 MHz
8 / 10 cores
NA MHz
+1 / +2 cores
Neural Engine 16 cores
(11 TOPS)
16 cores
(15.8 TOPS)
+44%
Memory Options 8 GB / 16 GB 8 GB / 16 GB / 24 GB
Memory Type LPDDR4X LPDDR5
Memory Speed 2133 MHz 3200 MHz +50%
Memory Bus 128-bit 128-bit
Memory
Bandwidth
68.2 GB/s 102.4 GB/s 50%

 

Apple Silicon M1 Series vs. M2 Comparison

While the M2 may offer significant improvements over the M1, Apple has been careful in not letting it cannibalise sales of the higher-performing M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra chips.

Even without testing the new M2, its specifications show that it slots in between the M1 and the M1 Pro.

  • M2 has 8 cores like M1, with 2-4 fewer Performance cores than the M1 Pro.
  • Its Performance cores have L2 cache size of 16 MB, right between M1 (8 MB) and M1 Pro (24 MB).
  • Its 8-10 GPU core count is right between M1 (7-8 cores) and M1 Pro (14-16 cores).
  • Its maximum Unified Memory option is 24 GB, right between M1 (16 GB) and M1 Pro (32 GB).
  • It retains the M1’s narrower 128-bit memory bus, but uses the M1 Pro’s faster LPDDR5 memory.

To show you what I mean, here is a table I created comparing the key specifications of the M1 series against the new M2 :

Specifications M1 M1 Pro M1 Max M1 Ultra M2
Fab Tech 5nm (N5) 5 nm (N5P)
Transistor Count 16 billion 33.7 billion 57 billion 114 billion 20 billion
Die Size 120 mm² 245 mm² 432 mm² 864 mm² NA
CPU Cores
(Performance)
4 cores
(Firestorm)
3.2 GHz
6 / 8 cores
(Firestorm)
3.23 GHz
8 cores
(Firestorm)
3.23 GHz
16 cores
(Firestorm)
3.23 GHz
4 cores
(Avalanche)
NA GHz
CPU Cores
(Efficiency)
4 cores
(Icestorm)
2.06 GHz
2 cores
(Icestorm)
2.06 GHz
2 cores
(Icestorm)
2.06 GHz
4 cores
(Icestorm)
2.06 GHz
4 cores
(Blizzard)
NA GHz
L2 Cache P-core : 12 MB
E-core : 4 MB
P-core : 24 MB
E-core : 4 MB
P-core : 48 MB
E-core : 8 MB
P-core : 16 MB
E-core : 4 MB
SLC 16 MB 32 MB 64 MB 128 MB 32 MB
GPU Cores 7 / 8 cores
1278 MHz
14 / 16 cores
1296 MHz
24 / 32 cores
1296 MHz
48 / 64 cores
1296 MHz
8 / 10 cores
NA MHz
Neural Engine 16 cores 32 cores 16 cores
Memory Options 8 / 16 GB 16 / 32 GB 32 / 64 GB 64 / 128 GB 8 / 16 / 24 GB
Memory Type LPDDR4X LPDDR5
Memory Speed 2133 MHz 3200 MHz
Memory Bus 128-bit 256-bit 512-bit 1024-bit 128-bit
Memory
Bandwidth
68.2 GB/s 204.8 GB/s 409.6 GB/s 819.2 GB/s 102.4 GB/s

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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