Apple's M1 chip was introduced in November 2021 and has proven to be incredibly powerful, despite only being available on Apple's entry-level Macs: the 24in iMac, MacBook Air, Mac mini and two MacBook Pro models.
Now attention has well and truly turned to the next generation of Apple's processors. With Apple's first CPU and GPU for Macs proving that the company knows exactly what it is doing, hopes are high for the successor.
Benchmarks have appeared for what is widely thought to be the next generation of Apple's Mac processors and they indicate that the next Apple chip will be even more powerful than the M1.
We don't know what the successor to the M1 will be called. There are suggestions that we could see an M1X - as the pro version of the M1, followed by an M2 - as a successor to the M1, and then an M2X as a successor to the M1X.
Here's everything we know about the successor to Apple's M1 Chip.
What Apple processor will launch next?
It looks like the M1X will be next in line, with the M2 coming in spring 2022. It seems that Apple will produce pro versions of the M1 with additional cores, before going on to produce the next generation M2 next year.
Twitter leaker Dylan suggested in April 2021 that the M1X will be next chip to come from Apple's development labs:
M1X is an extension of the M1 that will contain more thunderbolt channels, more cpu cores, more gpu cores, and greater power draw. The M1X will be featured in the Higher end Mac Mini, the Macbook Pro 14 and 16, and a higher end iMac.— Dylan (@dylandkt) April 30, 2021
Dylan indicates that Apple will bring out a new generation of chip each year, and then add different configurations with more processors, rather than issue a next generation for high-end machines.
He has also tweeted that:
The M1X is slated for a Q4 2021 release— Dylan (@dylandkt) April 25, 2021
The M2 is slated for a Q1 2022 release alongside the 2022 MacBook Air
Dylan correctly predicted that the 24in iMac would use a M1 chip when many were anticipating an M1X chip for that machine.
What is M1X?
The M1X Chip is thought to be a new configuration of the M1. It will be a speedier version of the same basic processor with more processor cores and more graphics cores.
If the rumours and leaked benchmarks from CPU Monkey are to be believed, this new version of the M1 Chip - the M1X - will offer a big improvement on the M1 Chip found in the November 2020 updates to the MacBook Air, entry-level MacBook Pro and the Mac mini, and the April 2021 24in iMac.
What is M2?
The M2 could be the successor to the M1 and M1X. A whole new generation of Apple processor. However, rather than the M2 being better than the M1X, it seems likely that the M2 will trump the M1 in terms of power, while the M2X would be the natural successor to the M1X (more on that chip below).
However, it might be that Apple skips the M1X altogether and moves straight to the M2, with the M2 being the chip used for the Macs designed for creative professionals, while the M1 remains as the chip for consumer Macs.
Alternatively, Apple might launch the M2 for the successor to the 27in iMac and the 16in MacBook Pro, while using the M1X for the rumoured 14in MacBook Pro, and eventually the next generation of the MacBook Air.
Although there is a rumour that the 2022 MacBook Air will be the first to feature the M2. Which does seem to success that the M1/M2 will be a generational thing, rather than an indicator of power.
What is M2X?
Assuming the sequence is correct, the M2X will be a pro version of the M2.
M1X Release date
The next Mac update is expected in the autumn of 2021 - we think October is the most likely date. That update is likely to feature the M1X chip.
Rumours point to a new 14in MacBook Pro and 16in MacBook Pro, and potentially a new pro version of the Mac mini, all with the M1X, launching around that time.
We could see something sooner than that though. A Nikkei report in April 2021 indicated that production on the successor to the M1 started in April 2021. Nikkei's sources indicated that the new chip wouldn't be ready to be used in Macs until July. Assembly "could begin as early as July for use in MacBooks that are scheduled to go on sale in the second half of this year", claims the report.
M2 Release date
Apple said that it will transition all its Macs to it's own silicon by June 2022 (at WWDC 2020 it gave itself a two year deadline). For this reason we predict that the M2 chips will arrive in the spring of 2022. It's likely the first Mac to feature the M2 will be the MacBook Air.
Which Macs will feature the M1X?
Which Macs will feature the M2?
Alternatively, if the M2 is the successor to the M1 we may see it in the new MacBook Air expected to launch at the beginning of 2022.
Here's what the rumours and leaked benchmarks suggest we could see in the new M1X - it is possible that these could be the specs for the M2 if Apple moves straight to the M2 rather than launching an M1X.
All the rumours point to there being 12 cores in the Apple M1X. That's an increase compared to the eight cores found in the M1. Where the M1 had four high-performance cores (codenamed Firestorm) and four energy-efficient cores (codenamed Icestorm), there will be eight high-performance Firestorm cores in the M1X.
Apple didn't reveal the clock speed of its M1 processor, but the benchmarks suggested that it was clocked at 3.2GHz. This hasn't changed for the M1X - according to the leaked benchmarks the new chip will still be clocked at 3.2GHz.
Like the M1 the M1X will still be based on a 5nm production process.
These extra cores will require more power, and the benchmarks indicate that the wattage will increase, maxing out at 45 watts for the M1X compared to the M1 Mac mini which maxed out at 39 watts. This is still pretty good going given that the 2018 Intel Mac mini maxed at 122 watts.
The benchmarks indicate that there will be 256 execution units for the M1X, compared to 128 execution units in the M1.
Like the M1 Mac the M1X benchmarks indicate that there will still be a 16GB max for RAM.
M1X display support
The benchmarks also indicate that the M1X will run up to three displays - which will be an improvement compared to the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro which can only support one additional display (unless you follow this tutorial: How to connect two or more external displays to Apple Silicon M1 Macs.
The M1 Mac mini can at least run an Apple XDR and a 4K display together.
According to a Bloomberg report, as well as the M1X Apple is developing in-house CPUs that boast 16-core and 32-core GPUs. The Bloomberg report from December 2020 suggested that Apple is working on designs with as many as 16 power cores and four efficiency cores, according to sources.
For higher-end desktop computers and a new smaller Mac Pro Apple could offer 32 high-performance cores - but those chips aren't expected until 2022, according to Bloomberg's sources. The ultimate Mac Pro desktop maxes out at 28-cores currently.
Alongside the 16-core GPU anticipated for the M1X Apple is said to be working on a 32-core graphics option, and by 2022 we could see 64 and 128 dedicated cores in Apple's highest-end machines, according to Bloomberg's sources.
You may also like to read: Mac trends in 2021 - The super Macs are coming.