Update: Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has just tweeted updating his predictions for upcoming Apple Mac products. According to his new tweet, the analyst expects the new Mac Minis with M2 SoC to launch next year instead of this year, along with the updated Mac Pro and iMac Pro that were also previously rumored for this year. That certainly puts the M2 debut in question.
Perhaps, Apple will launch the standard M2 this year on the Mac Mini with the more powerful M2 Pro planned for 2023. However, a MacBook Air/Pro debut is also on the cards. Keep in mind that 9To5Mac and Ming-Chi are often at odds when it comes to predictions.
[Updated]2023: Mac Pro, iMac Pro and Mac mini https://t.co/NiloxXy0jv
— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) March 11, 2022
Apple‘s recent “Peak Performance” event was packed with announcements, notably the new M1 Ultra SoC and the accompanying computer housing it, the Mac Studio. What we did not see, however, was a new Mac Mini that was initially rumored to be present at this event, neither did Apple mention anything about next-gen Apple silicon, the M2 (or whatever it will be called). Instead, that materialized into the M1 Ultra.
In many ways, the Mac Studio is a spiritual successor to the Mac Mini with the biggest similarity being that it looks just like a Mac Mini, if it were nearly 4 inches tall. It can also be viewed as a Mac Mini and Mac Pro hybrid considering how powerful it is and the fact that its thermal system is identical to that of the trashcan Mac Pro. Due to this announcement, many of us were led to believe that this is it for the Mac Mini with the impression being that Apple is officially replacing it with the Mac Studio.
Fortunately, that’s not true as both product lineups, Mac Pro and Mini, will continue to thrive. There’s a new Mac Pro that Apple teased at the very end of the event which confirms that the Mac Studio is not its replacement. And today’s report, courtesy of 9To5Mac, also confirms that Apple is indeed working on new Mac Mini products and that they’re set to launch this year. On top of that, DigiTimes‘ latest report regarding M2 reiterates this as well.
New Mac Minis with M2 SoC are coming
According to 9To5Mac, there are two new variants of the Mac Mini in development, one with the new M2 chip (codenamed J437) and a higher-end version with the M2 Pro chip (codenamed J474). The M2 chip will be a proper generational upgrade over M1 and will come out in the second half of 2022. As earlier reports have suggested, Apple is following a roadmap of a new generation every 18 months, and since the M1 launched back in the first half of 2020, M2 is supposed to come out soon.
As reported by DigitTimes, Apple M2 will be manufactured using TSMC‘s cutting-edge 4nm process, the same process Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (and 2) is using. Apple M1 was built on TSMC’s 5nm process which is already crazy efficient so don’t expect astronomical improvements in performance and/or efficiency. Still, Apple is going to pack the most amount of upgrades in M2 as humanely possible.
The M1 came with an 8-core CPU which the M2 is said to retain but due to shorter gate length of the 4nm process and developmental strides made since M1, those 8 cores would be more performant on the M2. Out of those 8 cores, four are efficiency cores, codenamed “Blizzard“, while the other 4 are performance cores codenamed “Avalanche“. Most importantly, where the M1 was based on the older A14 Bionic chip, the new M2 will be based on the more current A15 Bionic chip.
Where the real changes will be made is the GPU. Apple will bump the original 8-core count of the M1 GPU to 10-cores in the M2. This will make the already powerful GPU of the M1 even more powerful. That’s all we know about the M2 for now. But, as mentioned earlier, there also will be another Mac Mini with the M2 Pro inside. The only difference between the M2 and M2 Pro is that the latter bumps that 8-core CPU count to 12-cores, eight performance cores and four efficiency cores respectively.
Apple silicon’s future
DigitTimes is currently reporting that M2 is well on track to launch this year. Apple will likely host an event for it in Q4 of this year where the M2 will be unveiled along with the Macs that it will debut on. Rumors suggest that the Mac Mini will be Apple’s computer of choice to launch the M2 on. There’s also a redesigned MacBook Air on the cards, but notable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting that will still launch with the old M1, however 9To5Mac disagrees with him on this.
At some point in time, new Mac Minis with the M1 Pro and Max chips were also planned but they were most likely scrapped to make way for the M1 Ultra Mac Studio. Now, those two Mac Mini products have evolved into what we will see later this year, powered by Apple’s next-gen silicon. Bloomberg has also reported that Apple may introduce new Macs at its WWDC 2022 event in June, perhaps the M2 Mac Mini can see an unveiling there.
To summarize, Apple’s M2 is set to come out this year with production on track at TSMC. Apple is planning two new versions of the Mac Mini that will most likely debut the new M2 chip along with its Pro variant. The Mac Pro refresh with the M1 Ultra or the M2 is still coming as Apple has teased. Therefore, as things stand right now, the Mac Pro, Mac Mini, and the new Mac Studio are all going to co-exist in harmony as Apple slowly completes its transition to entirely in-house silicon.