Apple M1 vs Apple M2: What’s the Difference?


At the WWDC 2022 event, Apple finally unveiled its flagship M2 chip after a gap of almost 1.5 years. The Apple M2 chip will power the next generation of Apple devices, including the latest MacBook Air and upcoming Macs and iPads. Now, if you are wondering how much of a performance difference Apple M2 brings in comparison to M1, well, we have compiled all the answers for you. In this article, we compare the Apple M1 vs Apple M2 chip to find out the improvements in CPU, GPU, power consumption, and more. On that note, let’s go ahead and compare the latest Apple M2 chip with the previous-gen M1 to find out the differences.

Apple M1 vs Apple M2: In-depth Comparison (2022)

In this article, we have thoroughly compared the Apple M1 and M2 chips. We have discussed the CPU, GPU, unified memory, and lots of other details. You can expand the table below and move to a section of your choice.

Apple M1 vs M2: Specs Comparison

Here is the specs comparison between the Apple M1 and M2 chips. You can glance over the on-paper specs below and learn what new upgrades Apple’s new M2 chip brings in comparison to Apple M1.

  Apple M1 Apple M2
Fabrication Process 5nm 2nd-gen 5nm
Transistors 16 billion 20 billion
CPU Cores 8 8
GPU Cores 7 or 8 8 or 10
Frequency (Max) 3.2GHz Information not available yet
TDP 20 to 24W Information not available yet
Neural Engine 16 cores; 11 TOPS 16 cores; 15.8 TOPS
Unified Memory (RAM) Up to 16GB Up to 24GB
Memory Bandwidth 68.25GBps 100GBps
RAM Type LPDDR4X LPDDR5

Apple M1 vs M2: CPU

In our comparison between Apple M1 vs M2, let’s talk about the CPU first. Apple announced that it’s focusing on power efficiency rather than chasing superior performance at the cost of battery life. So the Apple M2 chip is built on the 2nd-gen 5nm technology, which is supposed to bring better power efficiency. The Apple M1 is also developed on 5nm tech, but the 2nd-gen process node comes with more refinement and optimization.

Apple M2

The CPU cores on both Apple M1 and M2 remain the same with 8 cores, however, the transistor count has increased to 20 billion on the M2, in comparison to M1’s 16 billion transistors. This is partly due to the larger GPU core (more on this below). The new 8-core CPU on the Apple M2 comes with 4 high-performance cores and 4 high-efficiency cores, just like the Apple M1.

The underlying architecture is also similar, it seems. The high-performance cores on the Apple M2 have been developed on the Ultrawide microarchitecture with 192KB instruction cache, 128KB data cache, and a Shared 16MB cache. In comparison, Apple M1 chip also shares the same cache size, however, the Shared cache size is 12MB on the M1 against M2’s 16MB.

Apple M1 vs M2: CPU
Apple M1 vs M2: 18% CPU Performance Difference

Moving to the high-efficiency cores, both chips are built on the Wide microarchitecture having 128KB instruction cache, 64KB data cache, and a Shared 4MB cache. Basically, the efficiency cores have not been revamped much, and performance cores have gotten a larger Shared cache on the Apple M2.

To put these figures into perspective, the CPU on the Apple M2 is 18% faster than Apple M1 in the same power envelope. It’s not a breakthrough upgrade, but Apple has maintained the same power consumption and provided 18% greater performance without increasing the 8-core count. I would say that the Apple M2 has gotten a decent upgrade over the M1 in terms of CPU.

Apple M1 vs M2: GPU

Now talking about the GPU, the Apple M2 comes with a 10-core GPU (8-core on lower-end Macs), whereas Apple M1 has 8 GPU cores (on some Mac, 7 GPU cores in M1). Clearly, Apple is willing to offer better graphics performance with the Apple M2 chip. According to Apple, the M2 chip offers 25% better graphics performance than Apple M1 in the same power envelope. And if you push the Apple M2 GPU to its highest power state, it can offer 35% better performance. At this point, we can say that M2’s GPU is significantly better than M1’s GPU.

Apple M1 vs M2: GPU
Apple M1 vs M2: GPU

The GPU on the Apple M2 features a larger L2 cache and can deliver up to 3.6 teraflops of performance, whereas the M1 GPU can only do 2.6 teraflops. The M2 GPU can render up to 55 gigapixels per second as compared to M1 GPU’s 41 gigapixels per second. So yeah, overall, the Apple M2 GPU has gotten a meaty upgrade over its older sibling, and we are excited to test it against the newest Intel/ AMD GPUs. (Hint: Apple claims it is still far ahead).

Apple M1 vs M2: Unified Memory

Apart from the CPU and GPU, let’s talk about Unified memory on both the chips. The Apple M2 chip supports Unified memory of up to 24GB with a bandwidth of 100GBps, which is absolutely great. For comparison, the M1 supports only up to 16GB of Unified memory with a bandwidth of 68.25Gbps.

Well, this is partly because the Apple M2 brings the LPDDR5 memory interface, whereas the M1 had the older LPDDR4X memory channel. Not to mention, the Unified memory is accessible to the entire chip, and it has been custom-designed by Apple.

Apple M1 vs M2: Unified Memory
Apple M2

Apple M1 vs M2: Media Engine

In the Media Engine department too, the Apple M2 has seen good improvements. It has an updated Media Engine that adds support for ProRes, and it can both encode and decode. In addition, the new Media Engine supports 8K H.264 and HEVC videos, which should result in simultaneous 4K and 8K video streams. There is also 6K external display support, the same as Apple M1.

Apple M1 vs M2: Media Engine
Apple M2

Apple M1 vs M2: Secure Enclave and Neural Engine

There is also the next-generation Secure Enclave on the Apple M2 chip to provide an extra layer of security. And the latest 16-core Neural Engine on the M2 can deliver up to 15.8 trillion operations per second (TOPS). The Apple M1 chip also has a 16-core Neural Engine, but it can only reach up to 11 TOPS. In essence, the updated Neural Engine on the M2 is 40% faster than M1’s Neural Engine.

Apple M1 vs M2: Secure Enclave and Neural Engine
Apple M2

Apple M1 vs M2 Chip: Apple’s New Silicon King

So that rounds up our comparison between the Apple M1 and M2. In my opinion, the Apple M2 is not a revolutionary breakthrough if you compare the chip with its in-house rival, the OG Apple M1. It does not imbue the same level of excitement that Apple M1 brought when it was unveiled back in 2020. The CPU has gotten better; the GPU, on the other hand, has been noticeably improved. Other parts have also received incremental updates, which is great for users.

The core architecture is largely similar. However, the silver lining is power efficiency, as Apple professed in the beginning. With the new-gen M2 chip, you can be sure that you will get unparalleled battery life (up to 18 hours of video playback on the M2 MacBook Air) and performance. Anyway, that is all from us. If you want to compare Apple M1 vs M1 Pro vs M1 Max, follow our linked article. And if you have any questions, let us know in the comment section below.



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