Apple plans 18-month Mac upgrade with M2 chip, launching mid-2022

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With the Apple silicon transition about half over, it looks like the M1’s days are already numbered. According to a new report, Apple is eying an 18-month upgrade cycle for its Mac chips as it readies the M2-powered MacBook Air for a launch in the second half of 2022.

According to the Chinese-language publication Commercial Times (translation), development of Apple’s next series of processors is “nearly complete” and will use TSMC’s 4nm process as has been previously reported. Current M1 processors were built with a 5nm process.

When the Mac event extended the M1’s cycle with the addition of the M1 Pro, and M1 Max this year, it became clear that Apple would use a different schedule than with its A-series processors. While the M1 is based on the A14 processor and the M2 will reportedly be based on the A15, the M3 would presumably launch in late 2023, meaning it will likely skip a generation and follow the A17. This could place Apple silicon on a modified tick-tock cycle. Each generation will get a greater performance boost by using a new microarchitecture.

With the culmination of its transition away from Intel processors, the 2022-2023 Mac lineup will likely look something like this:

MacBook Air (M2)
MacBook Pro (M2 Pro and M2 Max)
iMac (M2)
iMac Pro (M2 Pro and M2 Max)
Mac mini (M2)
Mac mini Pro (M2 Pro and M2 Max)
Mac Pro (Dual M2 Pro and M2 Max)

With this schedule, the Pro and Max chips will overlap the next generation of the M chips but offer stronger performance. This could be confusing for some buyers. However, the price difference and “Pro” names should help to make it clear which machine is faster.

Additionally, Commercial Times reports Apple will once again offer two A16 Bionic processors for the iPhone 14 with differing graphics cores.

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Since the iPod was called the iWalk, Michael Simon has covered Apple. His obsession with technology dates back to his first computer, the IBM Thinkpad with lift-up keyboard that allowed him to swap out the drive. He still waits for it to return in style.

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