Apple M2 Pro, M2 Max – Made on Cutting-Edge TSMC Technology, Higher CPU, GPU Count, and Everything Else You Should Know

The Apple M2 is currently found in the new MacBook Pro and redesigned MacBook Air. While there are other products in tow just waiting to feature the new SoC, the M2 represents the arrival of even more powerful custom silicon, the M2 Pro, and M2 Max. Not only are we expected to find them in updated 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, but in other devices too. To see how Apple intends to raise the bar with these two SoCs, here is all the information you ever needed to know about them.

M2 Pro and M2 Max Could Be Apple’s First to Be Made on TSMC’s Cutting-Edge 3nm Architecture, Bringing Improvements Never Seen Before

The M2 was a disappointment, but it was not Apple’s fault, seeing as how we unnecessarily raised our expectations to unbelievable levels. Seeing what the M1 is capable of, we believed the company could pull off a miracle launch, but real-world physics plays a pivotal in bringing those limitations to light. Right off the bat, the M2 could not be mass produced on TSMC’s cutting-edge 3nm architecture because that fabrication technology was not ready, but we expect Apple to make up for that with the M2 Pro and M2 Max.

A previous report stated that TSMC’s 3nm wafers would enter mass production later this year, suggesting that the first batch of M2 Pro and M2 Max will be shipped to Apple. Unfortunately, if consumers think that we will get the first wave of products fueled by the new chipsets in late 2022, they are mistaken as a ton goes into building the whole product and the two Apple Silicon are just a piece of an entire puzzle.

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This mass production schedule also means Apple’s A16 Bionic found in the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will not be fabricated on the 3nm process but the 4nm architecture instead. Going by this schedule, the new products sporting the M2 Pro and M2 Max will start appearing in the first quarter of 2023. However, given the complexities of mass producing 3nm wafers, TSMC could face difficulties fulfilling orders for Apple at a larger scale, meaning the delay of next-generation hardware.

Over the course of a few years, TSMC will have multiple 3nm variants available for customers, including Apple. The M2 Pro and M2 Max are expected to be designed on N3, which is the first variant, and in the future, N3E, N3P, N3S, and N3X will be available accordingly. The Taiwanese manufacturer claims that compared to N5, which is also known as 5nm, N3 will deliver up to 30 percent increased performance while consuming up to 15 percent less power.

We will see if TSMC’s claims translate into real-world results, but for now, those are some impressive gains and will benefit the Apple Silicon lineup greatly.

Increased CPU, and GPU Cores Across the M2 Pro, M2 Max Range

The M1 Pro and M1 Max could be configured with up to a 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU. With the M2 Pro and M2 Max, Apple is expected to breach that threshold, bringing increased core counts to both areas. Sadly, there is little information surrounding the M2 Pro, but we have reported in the past that the M2 Max could tout up to a 12-core GPU and 38-core GPU. The 12-core CPU would comprise of 10 performance cores and two energy efficiency ones.

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Before you get excited about the M2 Max, note that it is the top-tier variant featuring those high CPU and GPU core counts, so you will have to pay Apple a premium to get to those many cores. We believe that there will be less powerful tiers available, and the following is just our speculation as to what you will get from the upcoming two custom silicon.

  • M2 Pro base version – 8-core CPU, 16-core GPU
  • M2 Pro tier two – 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU
  • M2 Pro top-end version – 10-core CPU, 20-core GPU
  • M2 Max base version – 12-core CPU, 28-core GPU
  • M2 Max top-end version – 12-core CPU, 38-core GPU

At the time of writing, we have heard nothing about the less powerful M2 Pro and M2 Max versions, so the CPU and GPU core count mentioned above can change during Apple’s official announcement. The technology giant is also expected to retain its unified RAM limit to 64GB, which is the maximum amount supported on the M1 Pro and M1 Max. However, this time, the new memory chips could support the LPDDR5 standard, making them faster and more power-efficient.

It is highly doubtful that many users would even select the 64GB RAM option since it is an overkill amount of memory for any operating system, be it macOS or Windows, and might we add, downright expensive. Just like last time, the 64GB RAM option will likely be exclusive to the M2 Max. We should also see an increase in Neural Engine cores, which are currently 16 for the M1 Pro and M1 Max options.

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Should You Upgrade to the M2 Pro or M2 Max MacBook Pro Models When They Launch?

If you currently own any M1 Pro or M1 Max MacBook Pro, it makes little sense for you to upgrade, given that you may not see those massive performance gains when switching to the M2 Pro or M2 Max. Power efficiency could see an uplift thanks to the new TSMC 3nm architecture, which will translate into better battery life when running the same workload. However, there still needs to be a massive upside for a customer to invest a large chunk of change for one of these machines.

Remember, at the time of launch, Apple’s 14-inch MacBook Pro featuring the 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU M1 Pro costs $1,999, and with the M2 Pro MacBook Pro, we are not expected to see a price difference in the base model. Then again, we continue to remain excited and wait patiently on the M2 Pro and M2 Max launch and will provide comparisons and other metrics in the future, so stay tuned.

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