Category Archives: Apple Silicon

Apple M2 Processor Series

Understanding possibly five Apple M2 Series processors

Apple M2
Apple announced the M2 SoC on June 6, 2022, at WWDC, along with the new MacBook Air and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro and later the iPad Pro (6th generation). It is the successor to the Apple M1. The M2 is made with TSMC’s “Enhanced 5-nanometer technology” N5P process and contains 20 billion transistors, a 25% increase from the previous generation M1. The M2 can be configured with up to 24 gigabytes of RAM and 2 terabytes of storage. It has 8 CPU cores (4 performance and 4 efficiency) and up to 10 GPU cores. The M2 also increases the memory bandwidth to 100 GB/s. Apple claims CPU improvements up to 18% and GPU improvements up to 35% compared to the previous M1.

Apple M2 Pro
The M2 Pro is a more powerful version of the M2, with six to eight performance cores, four efficiency cores, 16 to 19 core GPU, 16 Apple Next Generation Neural Engine cores, up to 32 GBs of unified RAM with up to 200 GB/s memory bandwidth, and over 40 billion transistors, 20 percent more than the M1 Pro and twice the M2. It was announced on January 17, 2023 in a press release and it is used in the 14 and 16 inch 2023 MacBook Pro (Apple silicon) as well as the Mac Mini. Apple claims the CPU performance on the M2 Pro is 20 percent faster than the M1 Pro and the GPU is 30 percent faster than the one on the M1 Pro.

Apple M2 Max
The M2 Max is a larger more powerful version of the M2 Pro, with eight performance cores, four efficiency cores, 30 to 38 core GPU, 16 Apple Next Generation Neural Engine cores, up to 96GBs of unified RAM with up to 400 GB/s memory bandwidth, and over 67 billion transistors, 10 billion more than the M1 Max and 3x the M2. It was announced on January 17, 2023 in a press release and it is used in the 14 and 16 inch 2023 MacBook Pro (Apple silicon). Apple claims the CPU performance on the M2 Max is 20 percent faster that M1 Max and the GPU is 30 percent faster than the M1 Max. According to Apple, “the M2 Max is the most powerful and efficient chip in a pro laptop”.
Wikipedia 

The brilliance of Apple silicon is the components of each one are the same. There are just more or less of them in each type.

Performance of the various M2 processors really boils down to the base M2 processor performance.

The base M2 has been in the MacBook Air and available since the beginning of July 2022. The Mac mini refreshed its lineup from M1 and Intel based, to M2 and M2 Pro models in Q1 of 2023. The 14″ & 16″ MacBook Pros upgraded to the M2 Pro and M2 Max in Q1 of 2023.

I expect that the M2 Ultra will be released before the end of 2023 in the Mac Studio and Mac Pro. Though rumors say no, the M2 Extreme could be in the next Mac Pro, available in possibly 2023. The 24″ iMac will eventually upgrade to at least the M2, but who knows, rumors say these could instead be released as M3 iterations.

By the end of 2023, the Apple M1 Processor Series should be history and fully replaced by the Apple M2 Processor Series in newly released products.

M2, M2 Pro & M2 Max specifications are actual
M2 Ultra & M2 Extreme specifications are estimates

While M2, M2 Pro and M2 Max are distinct designs, M2 Ultra is expected to be essentially two interconnected M2 Maxs (as the M1 Ultra was two M1 Maxs), and M2 Extreme is expected to be four interconnected M2 Maxs.

** If you are browsing this page from a phone, you may want to view the following chart in landscape mode.

ComponentM2M2 ProM2 MaxM2 UltraM2 Extreme
Efficiency CPU Cores444816
Efficiency Clock2.4GHz2.4GHz2.4GHz2.4GHz2.4GHz
Performance CPU Cores46 or 881632
Performance Clock3.5GHz3.5GHz3.5GHz3.5GHz3.5GHz
Neural Engine Cores1616163264
GPU Cores options8 or 1016 or 1930 or 3860 or 76120 or 152
Unified Memory options8GB 16GB 24GB16GB 32GB32GB 64GB 96GB64GB 128GB 192GB128GB 256GB 384GB
Memory Bandwidth100GB/s200GB/s400GB/s800GB/s1600GB/s
Video Decode Engines11124
Video Encode Engines11248
ProRes Encode-Decode Engines11248

One twist that is possible, is that the M2 Extreme will not be named the M2 Extreme. This chip could be broken out of the M lineup and become a processor line of its own, with its own naming structure for the exclusive use of the Mac Pro systems.

Assuming a 2 year processor upgrade cycle, by the end of 2025 the M2 Series should be history and fully replaced by the Apple M3 Processor Series in newly released products.

CPU & GPU Performance Benchmarks

Buying an Apple M2 Series computer

Any Apple M2 Series computer will be a joyful experience compared to music and video production on Intel hardware. Highly recommended to get at least 16GB of memory and 512GB storage if you select an M2 Series system.

So far, there are 5 basic form factors of Apple macOS systems with M2 Series processors, 1 desktop and 4 laptops.

It is expected that a Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra will be released in 2023, and possibly a 24″ iMac M2 and Mac Pro M2 Ultra & M2 Extreme as well. There are also *rumors* of a 15″ MacBook Air M2 and a 27″ iMac M2 & M2 Pro.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social.

Apple M1 Processor Series

Understanding the four Apple M1 Series processors

Apple M1
The M1, Apple’s first system on a chip designed for use in Macs, is manufactured using TSMC’s 5 nm process. Announced on November 10, 2020, it is used in the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), Mac mini (M1, 2020), MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020), iMac (24-inch, M1, 2021), iPad Pro (5th generation) and iPad Air (5th generation). It comes with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, for a total of 8 CPU cores. It comes with up to 8 GPU cores, with the entry level MacBook Air having only 7 GPU cores. The M1 has 16 billion transistors.

Apple M1 Pro
The M1 Pro is a more powerful version of the M1, with six to eight performance cores, two efficiency cores, 14 to 16 GPU cores, 16 Neural Engine cores, up to 32 GB unified RAM with up to 200 GB/s memory bandwidth, and more than double the transistors. It was announced on October 18, 2021, and is used in the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apple said the CPU performance is about 70% faster than the M1, and that its GPU performance is about double. Apple claims the M1 Pro can deliver up to 20 streams of 4K or 7 streams of 8K ProRes video playback (up from 6 offered by Afterburner card for 2019 Mac Pro).

Apple M1 Max
The M1 Max is a larger version of the M1 Pro chip, with eight performance cores, two efficiency cores, 24 to 32 GPU cores, 16 Neural Engine cores, up to 64 GB unified RAM with up to 400 GB/s memory bandwidth, and more than double the number of transistors. It was announced on October 18, 2021, and is used in the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro, as well as the Mac Studio. Apple says it has 57 billion transistors. Apple claims the M1 Max can deliver up to 30 streams of 4K (up from 23 offered by Afterburner card for 2019 Mac Pro) or 7 streams of 8K ProRes video playback.

Apple M1 Ultra
The M1 Ultra consists of two M1 Max dies connected together by a silicon interposer through Apple’s UltraFusion technology. It has 114 billion transistors, 16 performance cores, 4 efficiency cores, 48 to 64 GPU cores and 32 Neural Engine cores; it can be configured with up to 128 GB unified RAM of 800 GB/s memory bandwidth. It was announced on March 8, 2022, as an optional upgrade for the Mac Studio. Apple claims the M1 Ultra can deliver up to 18 streams of 8K ProRes video playback.
Wikipedia

The brilliance of Apple silicon is the components of each one are the same. There are just more or less of them in each type.

* Exception is the M1 does not have the ProRes Encoder/Decoders that the M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra have.

The Apple M1 Processor Series are truly game changing processors. By the end of 2023 all Intel based Macs should be history and replaced by M Series processors. As of Q1 2023, the only Apple system with Intel processors still is the Mac Pro.

The M1 processors are Apple custom ARMv8 processors and based on the TSMC 5nm process.

** If you are browsing this page from a phone, you may want to view the following chart in landscape mode.

ComponentM1M1 ProM1 MaxM1 Ultra
Efficiency CPU Cores4224
Efficiency Clock2.1GHz2.1GHz2.1GHz2.1GHz
Performance CPU Cores46 or 8816
Performance Clock3.2GHz3.2GHz3.2GHz3.2GHz
Neural Engine Cores16161632
GPU Cores7 or 814 or 1624 or 3248 or 64
Unified Memory8GB or 16GB16GB or 32GB32GB or 64GB64GB or 128GB
Memory Bandwidth68.25GB/s200GB/s400GB/s800GB/s
Video Decode Engines1112
Video Encode Engines1124
ProRes Encode-Decode Engines0124

Assuming a 2 year processor upgrade cycle, by the end of 2023 the M1 Series should be history and fully replaced by the Apple M2 Processor Series in newly released products.

Buying an Apple M1 Series computer

Any Apple M1 Series computer will be a joyful experience compared to music and video production on Intel hardware. If you are a musician or creator, it is highly recommended to get at least 16GB of memory and 512GB storage if you select an M1 system. At the other end of the scale, 64 GPU cores and 128GB of memory will probably not make an appreciable difference for the average musician or creator if you select an M1 Ultra system.

There are 7 basic form factors of Apple macOS systems with M1 Series processors, 3 desktops and 4 laptops.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social.

Apple Silicon is the DAW standard

Apple M Series is the new DAW performance minimum!

I’ve been using Intel based PCs for decades, but it no longer makes any sense whatsoever. Apple innovation has flown above and beyond Intel.

I would suggest at the barest minimum, an entry level Apple M1 (Air, Pro, Mini, iMac) if you are serious about your music. A brand new M2 Mac mini can be had from Apple starting at $599.00. Used M1 Mac minis must be dirt cheap. MacBooks and iMacs can be had for reasonable costs too. Choose what you’re comfortable with, but do it.

Maybe a less than 10 year old Intel-based system with enough RAM and SSD might be able to run Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Logic Pro, FL Studio, Reason, Cubase, or the DAW of your choice. But will the older Intel-based systems run your software great or without issues? Probably not, though a lot of people are going to rationalize going with less even if it isn’t the right choice.

Apple silicon is the DAW standard. The developers of your DAW and plugins are going to use the power available to them. If your Intel-based hardware isn’t dogging now, it will be soon.

Video is another area that Apple silicon excels at and will be of increasing importance for creators.

Most musicians, obsessed as we can be, have thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars of gear. A sufficient DAW should be a prioritized part of whatever you have, and if your DAW is your gear, it’s even more critical. Your DAW should not be the choke point. System performance frustration or software limitations should never be part of the creative process. Think about it. Do some research. Watch some videos. You’ll be amazed at how even the entry level Apple silicon leaps ahead of Intel without a hiccup.

If your budget allows better than M1, be sure to read these reviews and resources: Mac mini M2 & M2 ProMacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 MaxMacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max, Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social.