Monday, December 11

Apple has it very easy to deal a blow with its M2 chips after how well the move with the M1 has gone


Who was going to say it. In recent years, Apple has not made any big missteps, but abandoning Intel to bet everything on its own portfolio of ARM processors there were some risks. The performance of these chips may not have been up to what we users demand from the brain of a latest-generation laptop, but we have been putting them to the test for almost a year and a half, and, objectively, Apple has done well .

In hindsight it is easy to defend that this company would not have taken this step if it did not have everything well tied up, but those from Cupertino are not infallible, nor are the executives of the companies with which they ‘fight’. In any case, there is no doubt that the M1 processors they are very competitive, and the clues we have about its successors, the M2 chips, are promising. Much.

Apple took the first step on the path it is currently on in 2012. The license it had acquired from ARM up to that point allowed it to make its own chips using the Cortex cores designed by the latter company as a starting point, but that year it bought a new more ambitious license. One that allowed him to design its own microarchitecture on ARMv7.

What we know and what we can expect from the M2 processors

In recent days, some characteristics of the chips that will shape the M2 family have been leaked, and they are credible. They are because, as we can guess, the next Apple processors they will up the ante integrating more general purpose cores and more graphics cores than the chips in the same category that have preceded them.

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Apple's brutal M1 Ultra processor compared to the other chips in the family

According to these leaks, the ‘basic’ M2 processor, the one that will not have a last name, will integrate 8 CPU cores (probably 4 high-performance and as many high-efficiency ones) and 10 graphics cores, so, if so, would add two more of the latter type than the M1 chip.

The leaks show that the M2 Max processor will integrate 12 CPU cores and 38 graphics cores

The ‘log’ files that have been leaked also show that the M2 Max processor will integrate 12 CPU cores and 38 graphics cores, which on paper will allow clearly outdo to the M1 Max, which brings together 10 CPU cores (8 high-performance and 2 high-efficiency) and 24 or 32 graphics cores depending on the version we choose.

These figures are plausible, and, in addition, they invite us to foresee that the M2 Pro and M2 Ultra processors will follow this same path, so they will probably also integrate more cores than their predecessors, the M1 Pro and M1 Ultra chips. However, as comfortable as its position currently is, which it is, Apple cannot simply settle for increase the number of cores of their processors.

This leads us to what is undoubtedly the most interesting question we can ask ourselves: what will be the scope of the modifications that the engineers of this company will introduce in the microarchitecture of its next M2 family processors? We can be sure that its impact on your overall performance, and especially on your performance per watt, will be crucial.

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By only increasing the number of cores, and keeping the microarchitecture intact, Apple would be able to increase the productivity of these processors in the most demanding multi-threaded scenarios, but it would not improve your performance per wattand neither is its productivity in single-thread usage scenarios.

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Apple can’t be satisfied with just increasing the number of cores; you also have to refine the microarchitecture of these chips

However, by refining some of the subsystems that the engineers of this brand are likely to attack, such as the code branch prediction algorithms, the cache subsystem management policy, or the disabling of those parts of the logic that are not being used for a certain period of clock cycles, they will not only increase their overall performance; they can also improve your performance per watt.

As comfortable as its position is currently, Apple has no choice but to put all the meat on the grill. The competition tightens, and what we still don’t know is what room for improvement it has the microarchitecture of Apple’s M1 chips. Fortunately, it looks like we won’t have to wait long to find out.

And it is that, according to Nikkei, the first computers of this brand equipped with processors of the M2 family will reach stores earlier this summer. Of course, when they disembark, we will put them to the test with the intention of satisfying our and your curiosity, and, above all, to find out if they really live up to the expectations that they have been generating for several months.

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