Apple M1 Pro or M2, which is better? Apple has been making CPUs for a long time, the first CPU designed by Apple dates back to 2007 to be exact. While they don’t really measure up to the desktop CPUs we’re familiar with, they still thrive in their own ecosystem where everything is constantly controlled and tailored to that CPU.
Today we’re pitting two Apple chips against each other to see who comes out on top. Unfortunately, it’s not that clear. Apple’s M2 chip hasn’t been released to the public yet, so we’ll be basing our information on snippets we can find online.
The Apple M1 Pro family
The Apple M1 chips have variants, much like any CPU manufacturer that makes more than one variant of a CPU.
The Apple M1 family CPUs are as follows:
- M1 Pro
- M1 max
- M1 Ultra
There are some key differences between versions of the M1 chips, most notably the changes in core count, GPU core count, architecture, and nm process.
For today’s article, we’re going to focus on the M1 Pro and the differences it has compared to Apple’s M2 CPU.
The Apple M1 Pro has two flavors within it, but it’s basically a single-threaded CPU based on the 5nm manufacturing process. The M1 Pro features ARM’s LITTLE.big hybrid architecture to produce variants containing either 8 cores (6+2) or 10 cores (8+2).
The performance cores have a larger presence in the M1 chips and are always the larger number. The lower efficiency cores are usually limited to two per chip. The LITTLE.big architecture works inside the M1 chip just like it works inside Intel CPUs.
The lack of hyperthreading for the M1’s performance cores would offer a single-core advantage with a sufficiently high clock rate. This is because the physical CPU core would not need to share resources with the supporting thread, resulting in both the core and thread slowing down due to inefficient resource allocations.
Most operating systems have usage optimizations in place to prevent this from being a problem, but in some cases this is still the case.
The core speed of the Apple M1 Pro leaves a little to be desired compared to some of the high-end mainstream CPUs. The maximum performance core speed is set to 3.2 GHz and the maximum for efficiency cores is 2.0 GHz.
You might find that these clock speeds are significantly lower than what we’re used to these days, and there are a few reasons for that.
Apple is in complete control of its own technology, we know that’s a redundant statement as almost all companies do. However, Apple can tailor applications and operating systems specifically for the limited number of Apple designs of hardware components.
This means that Apple can line-by-line code near-perfect interactions between operating systems, applications, and hardware. This is not possible with other broader CPU manufacturers, for example, because the possible combinations of operating systems, hardware and programs are very large. Because of this, CPU makers outside of Apple can’t babysit every interaction to ensure it’s as efficient as possible. Because of this, some CPUs work better on some operating systems or with certain hardware.
Hardcoding interactions in this way allows the M1 Pro to perform well at lower clock speeds, which is why the CPU is allowed to run at lower clock speeds to increase electrical efficiency.
It’s these lower clock speeds that allow Apple’s latest portable products to run for so long on single charges while maintaining high performance numbers.
Apple M2 chip
As mentioned, the M2 chip has not yet been released to the public. But since it’s made by Apple, we can assume the M2 chip is the same as the M1 Pro. What we mean is that the M2 is also designed specifically for Apple products (obviously) and we can potentially take lower clock speeds with a pinch of salt. As we know, Apple creates incredible device synergy in its products.
The Apple M2 chip is based on second-generation silicon with a smaller 5nm process from TSMC. This immediately tells us that the M2 chip should have a higher IPC compared to M1 chips.
It is not known what architecture Apple has chosen for the M2 chip, we assume it will be ARM’s LITTLE.big again and create a (6+2) configuration for the eight CPU cores of the M2 .
All we know is that the Apple M2 chip will have eight CPU cores and 10 GPU cores. The CPU is based on TSMC’s 5nm processor architecture and contains 20 billion transistors. This M2 chip looks incredibly promising, especially when compared to the standard M1 chip.
Since there is very little information about the M2 chip, we have to jump straight to performance as Apple has released information on the subject.
Apple has released information suggesting that the M2 chip has an 18% CPU performance increase over the M1, with the GPU receiving a 35% boost.
The M1 Pro is about 1.7 times faster than the original M1 chip. Contains two more CPU cores and eight more GPU cores. The M1 Pro also manages to cram an impressive 33.7 billion transistors into its design, far more than even the M2 chip has.
According to Apple, the M2’s GPU is 35% faster than the M1 chip. But the M1 Pro is about twice as fast as the M1, with up to 16 GPU cores and a lot more memory bandwidth. So expect the M1 Pro to still arrive around 40% faster than the M2.
Also, the new M2 chip offers more maximum memory compatibility (24GB) and memory bandwidth (100GB/s) than the original M1 chip. But the M1 Pro supports up to 32GB of storage and 200GB/s of storage bandwidth.
Apple M1 Pro vs. M2: Closing Words
It looks like Apple’s M1 Pro will still be slightly faster than the M2 chip (around 40%), but the M2 chip, like the M1, will come in variants. We don’t yet know what these variants will be called or if they’ll follow the same naming convention.
Apple will release an “M2 Pro” version at some point in the future, and that would likely smoke the M1 Pro chip. The base M2 chip is only 40% slower than the M1 Pro, but with MUCH less physical hardware and resources. We can’t wait to see what Apple pulls out of the bag in this case. We hope you enjoyed our article Apple M1 Pro vs M2.