Buyer’s Guide to M1 vs M2 Chips: How Much Better is M2 Really?

This month, Apple introduced the M2 chip, the second-generation custom silicon chip for Mac. After the M1 chip revolutionized the Mac from November 2020, how much better is the M2 really?

m1 versus m2
Apple says the ‌M2‌ chip pushes the performance per watt of the ‌M1‌ even further with an 18% faster CPU, 35% more powerful GPU, and 40% faster Neural Engine. There are also other significant improvements such as greater memory bandwidth and support for up to 24 GB of unified memory.

As the second major iteration of Apple silicon, it may not be clear how significant the improvement of the ‌M2‌ is over the ‌M1‌, especially since it sticks to a manufacturing process of 5 nm, contrary to some rumors which suggested a greater jump in performance and efficiency. at the store. The ‌M2‌ chip debuts in the 13-inch MacBook Pro and redesigned MacBook Air, so how much better the ‌M2‌ is than its predecessor could be an important consideration when buying a new Mac. Read on to learn more about the differences between the two chips.


M1 chip

  • Manufactured using TSMC’s 5nm process (N5)
  • 16 billion transistors
  • 4 high-performance “Firestorm” cores
  • 4 power-efficient “Icestorm” cores
  • 3.2 GHz processor clock frequency
  • CPU cores first seen in A14 Bionic chip in iPhone 12 lineup
  • 8-core GPU
  • Support for 8 GB or 16 GB of unified memory
  • 68.25 GB/s memory bandwidth
  • neural engine
  • Hardware-accelerated media engine for H.264 and HEVC
  • Video decoding engine
  • Video encoding engine
  • Image Signal Processor (ISP)

M2 chip

  • Made with TSMC’s enhanced 5nm process (N5P)
  • 20 billion transistors
  • 4 high-performance “Avalanche” cores
  • 4 power-efficient “Blizzard” cores
  • 3.49 GHz processor clock speed
  • CPU cores first seen in the A15 Bionic chip in the iPhone 13 lineup
  • 10-core GPU
  • Support for 8 GB, 16 GB or 24 GB of unified memory
  • 100 GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 40% faster neural engine
  • Media engine for H.264, HEVC, ProRes and hardware-accelerated ProRes RAW
  • Higher bandwidth video decoding engine
  • Video encoding engine
  • ProRes encoding and decoding engine
  • “New” Image Signal Processor (ISP)

Manufacturing process and transistors

Like the A14 Bionic, the ‌M1‌ chip is built using TSMC’s first-generation 5nm manufacturing process. On the other hand, the ‌M2‌ uses TSMC’s second-generation 5nm process like the A15 Bionic chip. The ‌M2‌ adds an additional four billion transistors for a total of 20 billion – 25% more than ‌M1‌. The improved 5nm manufacturing process is at the heart of many performance and efficiency improvements in ‌M2‌.

CPU

The ‌M1‌ and ‌M2‌ both have four high-performance cores and four power-efficient cores, but while the ‌M1‌ features “Firestorm” and “Icestorm” cores from the A14 Bionic chip, the ‌M2‌ offers “Avalanche” and “Blizzard” from the A15 Bionic chipping. According to Apple, this results in 18% better multithreaded performance than ‌M1‌.

m1 vs m2 processor performance
In early Geekbench benchmarks, the ‌‌M2‌‌, which runs at 3.49 GHz compared to the 3.2 GHz for the ‌‌M1‌‌, scored a single-core score of 1,919, about 12% faster than the MacBook 13’s single-core score of 1,707. inches ‌‌M1‌‌. Pro. The ‌‌M2‌‌ earned a multi-core score of 8,928, up about 20% from the ‌‌M1‌‌ model’s score of 7,419. This fits perfectly with Apple’s claim that the ‌‌M2‌‌ chip is up to 18% faster than the ‌‌M1‌.

Both chips have high-performance cores with 192 KB of L1 instruction cache and 128 KB of L1 data cache. The power-efficient cores have a 128 KB L1 instruction cache, a 64 KB L1 data cache, and a 4 MB shared L2 cache. The only difference here is that the shared L2 cache is larger on the ‌M2‌ chip. – 16 MB instead of 12 MB on the ‌M1‌.

GPUs

The ‌M2‌ features two additional GPU cores compared to the ‌M1‌, resulting in a moderate increase in graphics performance. Apple claims that the ‌M2‌ has up to 25% better graphics performance than the ‌M1‌ at the same power level, and up to 35% better performance at its maximum power. In early Geekbench Metal benchmarks, the ‌‌M2‌‌ chip scored 30,627, a notable improvement over the 21,001 score the ‌‌M1‌‌ scored.

GPU performance m1 vs m2

Multimedia engine

Both the ‌M1‌ and ‌M2‌ have dedicated video encoding and decoding engines for hardware-accelerated H.264 and HEVC, but the ‌M2‌’s video engines are also capable of accelerating ProRes and ProRes RAW to enable playback of multiple 4K and 8K video streams. Additionally, the ‌M2‌’s media engine includes a higher bandwidth video decoder, supporting 8K H.264 and HEVC video.

unified memory

The ‌M1‌ and ‌M2‌ are available in configurations with 8GB or 16GB of unified memory, but the ‌M2‌ adds an additional top-tier 24GB configuration. The ‌M2‌’s memory controller can also provide 100 GB/s of unified memory bandwidth, a substantial improvement over the 68.25 GB/s memory bandwidth of the ‌M1‌.

Other improvements

‌M2‌ features enhancements to several of Apple’s custom silicon technologies. For example, the Neural Engine can process up to 15.8 trillion operations per second, more than 40% more than ‌M1‌. The ‌M2‌ also contains Apple’s latest Secure Enclave and a new Image Signal Processor (ISP) for improved image noise reduction.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the ‌M2‌ chip offers moderate improvements over the ‌M1‌, although most ‌M1‌ users are unlikely to notice significant improvements when upgrading to the ‌M2‌. The advances in the ‌M2‌ are generally worthwhile, if not transformative, and the chip is certain to provide a more up-to-date experience with lower-spec Apple silicon machines – especially ones coming from an Intel-based machine.

While the ‌M2‌ offers improvements across the board with its enhanced 5nm process, updated cores, and additional GPU cores, the major upgrades are for users who need to work with video, as well as those with memory-intensive workflows. The ‌M2‌’s higher bandwidth video decoder and dedicated engine for ProRes and ProRes RAW video deliver significant improvements for video editors, while the 24 GB unified memory level and 100 GB/s memory bandwidth increase significantly the ability of ‌M2‌ machines to handle memory-intensive applications. and intense multitasking.

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