The first generation of Apple Silicon laptops and desktops have impressed reviewers with their powerful performance and low power consumption. Perhaps it's unsurprising, then, that Apple apparently already has a roadmap for the second- and third generation, as outlined by The Information.
Details of the roadmap come via “three people with direct knowledge of the plans”, and paint a picture of a company that’s keen to push its advantage over Intel.
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The second generation of chips will apparently be an “upgraded version” of the 5-nanometer M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max chips found in the company’s recent MacBooks and Macs. While that may sound underwhelming, the upgrade could be substantial for higher end computers, with some of the new chips doubling the number of dies to two.
More dies means more processor cores, and that’s particularly interesting for high-end computers. Earlier in the year, Bloomberg reported that a future Mac Pro could feature Apple Silicon with 40 cores, and increasing the number of dies would certainly help this ambition along. For reference, the current M1 Pro and M1 Max chips have ten cores, and the currently available Mac Pro can be built with a 28-core Intel Xeon W processor if money is no object (really: the price starts at $12,999 for that configuration.)
There will still be single-die chips, though, and these will apparently be destined for the redesigned MacBook Air 2002 and future iPads, the report claims. The second generation is ready to enter a trial production, although not in time for the next Mac Pro, which will apparently feature a modified version of the M1 Max with two dies instead of one.
The third generation of Apple Silicon is reportedly going to be a “much bigger leap” with some manufactured to the 3nm process and packing up to four dies. The report highlights three processors codenamed Ibiza, Lobos and Palma. The first is an entry-level chip for iPads and the MacBook Air, while the latter two are for MacBook Pros and desktop computers. By this point, the A chip used in iPhones will be manufactured via a 3nm process too, the report says.
A lot can happen to designs and ambitions over the course of a roadmap, of course, but this all sounds very promising. If the second and third generation of Apple Silicon impresses as much as the first, it’s hard to imagine Apple will have any cause to return to using Intel chips in its computers for the foreseeable future.
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