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Apple M1 vs M2: What’s the difference?

By Sanuj Bhatia June 24, 2022, 5:00 am
Apple M2 vs M1 chip Source: Pocketnow

At WWDC 2022, Apple introduced the second generation of its custom silicon chips for Mac, the Apple M2. The M2 chipset will power the next generation of Apple devices, including the upcoming MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and the other future Mac and iPad models.

Even though it sounds like just another number upgrade on paper, the debut of the Apple M2 chipset is significant as it marks the evolution of the remarkable Apple M1. We were all impressed with the Apple M1 when it launched in 2020, and now M2 has arrived with even more improvements onboard. In this article, let's take a look at the comparison of the Apple M1 vs. Apple M2 chip and find out the improvements it brings in CPU, GPU, and other key areas.


Apple M1 vs M2: Specs Showdown

CategoryM2 chipM1 chip
Fabrication Process2nd Gen 5nm technology1st Gen 5nm technology
CPU8 cores8 cores
CPU Configuration4 high-performance cores (12MB shared L2) + 4 energy-efficient cores (4MB shared L2)4 high-performance cores (16MB shared L2) + 4 energy-efficient cores (4MB shared L2)
GPUUp to 10-coreUp to 8-core
RAM (Unified Memory)Up to 24GBUp to 16GB
Memory bandwidth100GBps68.25GBps
Transistors20 billion16 billion
Neural Engine16-core (15.8 TOPS)16-core (11 TOPS)

Apple M1 vs M2: CPU

Apple M2 vs Apple M1 Source: Apple

Both the Apple M1 and M2 chipsets are based on ARM architecture. Both the chipsets feature an 8-core CPU, out of which four are high-performance cores, and four are energy-efficient cores. While the cores of the Apple M1 were based on the company's A14 Bionic processor, the CPU of the M2 is based on the A15 Bionic processor (the same CPU found in the iPhone 13 series). As per Apple, the CPU of the new M2 is 18% faster than the ‌M1‌ at the same power.

The underlying architecture of both the chips is quite similar, with the M1 and M2 chips featuring the same data cache and instruction cache. The only difference in terms of cache size is that the shared cache size of the high-performance cores on the M2 is slightly larger than the M1 — 16MB instead of 12MB on the ‌M1‌. The increase in shared cache size should provide considerable improvements in performing CPU-intensive tasks.

Coming to the fabrication process, the Apple M2 is based on the second-generation 5nm node technology. While the Apple M1 is also based on the 5nm node technology, Apple says that the new fabrication process brings better performance and power efficiency. The new M2 chip also sports 20 billion transistors — 25% more than the original M1.

Apple M1 vs M2: GPU

Apple M2 vs Apple M1 Source: Apple

The M2 chipset can be upgraded to up to 10 GPU cores, while the M1 chip maxed out at 8 GPU cores. Apple says that the graphic performance of the M2 chipset is much improved over the last generation, providing up to 25% better performance than the M1's GPU at the same watts and up to 35% better performance at max power. Coupled with the new Metal engine, Apple says that you can even play AAA titles on M2 Macs (some of them are launching later this year).

In technical terms, the Apple M2 can deliver up to 3.6 teraflops of graphics performance, whereas the M1 GPU maxes out at 2.6 teraflops. The company claims that M2's GPU can render up to 55 gigapixels per second, as opposed to 41 gigapixels per second on the Apple M1. Thanks to the improved GPU, Apple says that a MacBook with an M2 chipset can run cool and quietly, even when playing graphics-intensive games or editing massive RAW images.

Apple M1 vs M2: Media Engine

Apple M2 Media Engine MacBook Air 2022 Source: Apple

Both Apple M1 and M2 come with a dedicated media engine. While the first-generation Apple silicon supports hardware encoding and decoding for H.264 and HEVC video formats, the Apple M2 chip adds support for Apple's ProRes video format as well. In addition, the chipset also features higher bandwidth for video decoder enabling the new media engine to support 8K H.264 and HEVC video playbacks.

Apple M1 vs M2: Unified Memory (RAM)

Apple M2 vs Apple M1 Source: Apple

Moving onto the Unified Memory segment of the Apple M2, there are some serious upgrades in this department. While the unified memory (RAM) of the Apple M1 is based on LPDDR4X and maxes out at 16GB, the unified memory of the Apple M2 is based on the latest LPDDR5 platform and comes in 8GB, 16GB, and a new 24GB configuration. The new chipset also has higher bandwidth. The new M2 chipset can deliver up to 100GB/s of unified memory bandwidth, which is a substantial upgrade over the ‌M1‌'s 68.25GB/s memory bandwidth.

Apple M1 vs M2: Neural Engine

Apple M1 surprised all of us with its AI and ML capabilities thanks to its lightning-fast neural engine which is capable of processing up to 11 trillion operations per second. The new Apple M2 chip tops this figure and can deliver up to 15.8 trillion operations per second — an upgrade of 40% over the ‌M1‌. Lastly, the chipset also comes with the new Secure Enclave, which adds an extra layer of protection over the M1 and also features a new image signal processor (ISP) that enables better image noise reduction.

Apple M2 chip specifications Source: Apple

Overall, the new Apple M2 chipset offers a considerable amount of improvement versus the Apple M1. While the advancements are not revolutionary, it lays a promising foundation for the Pro, Max, and Ultra variants of the second-generation Apple Silicon. You might not notice a significant jump when upgrading from an M1-based Mac to an M2-based Mac, but if you're upgrading from an Intel Mac, you'll surely feel the difference. If you have any questions regarding Apple M1 vs. M2, do let us know in the comment section below!

MacBook Air M2 2022

Powered by M2

13.6-inch MacBook Air (2022)

The latest MacBook Air is powered by the M2 Apple Silicon, offering even better performance than the M1 series of chips. It has an excellent battery life, and all the performance you need for multitasking, editing, and working on-the-go.

Powered by M1

13.3-inch MacBook Air

The M1 MacBook Air comes with an Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance. It has an 8-core CPU that delivers up to 3.5x faster performance to tackle projects faster than ever.


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