If you thought the M1 MacBook Pro was fast, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Apple’s fastest current M1 Mac has an eight-core processor that delivers blistering performance – but Apple is working on a processor with a massive 64 cores.
That’s according to a cryptic post by high-profile Apple leaker @LeaksApplePro, who posted: “64 cores lol. will tell you soon. Can’t tell you now.” on their Twitter account (opens in new tab).
It’s hardly the most detailed or reassuring prediction, but we’re inclined to pay attention: the same account previously described what they say are the upcoming M-series 16-inch MacBook Pro’s specifications: a12-core M1X processor with eight high performance cores and four high efficiency cores backed with up to 64GB of unified memory.
The leaker predicted a launch date of late 2021 for the 16-inch MacBook Pro, and that timescale and specification fits well with a detailed Bloomberg piece about Apple’s plans for future M-series Macs.
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Apple’s 2021: more cores and mini-LED Macs
According to Bloomberg, “The next two lines of Apple chips are also planned to be more ambitious than some industry watchers expected for next year”: plans include “a chip design with as many as 32 high-performance cores” for a desktop computers in late 2021 and “a new half-sized Mac Pro planned to launch by 2022”. 32 cores is four more cores than the most powerful Mac Pro you can configure today.
Multiple reports also indicate that Apple’s plans for mini-LED displays are still on target for 2021 products.
More graphics power for Pro Macs
Bloomberg reports that Apple’s engineers are working on more powerful graphics systems too. The current M1 Macs are available with a 7-core GPU for the M1 MacBook Air and an 8-core version in the M1 MacBook Pro, but Bloomberg says Apple is currently testing 16-core and 32-core graphics processors.
And that’s just the start: in late 2021 or early 2022, Apple intends to offer its high-end machines with 64 or even 128 graphics cores offering several times the performance of the AMD and NVIDIA graphics in Apple’s current Intel Macs.
Why these multi-core processors matter
Apple intends to migrate its entire Mac range to Apple silicon by 2022, but at the moment the majority of Macs remain powered by Intel chips. That’s because for all their joys, the M1 processors in the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro can’t deliver the performance and flexibility required by desktop power users and mobile pros.
For example, you can configure the current Intel-powered Mac Pro with up to 28 cores, 1TB of RAM, and twin graphics cards, each with 2x32GB of high speed memory.
That’s an extreme example, of course – that Mac would cost a huge amount of money – but even at the entry level there are things that Intel processors currently do better than Apple ones: if you spec your 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Intel rather than Apple silicon, you get twice the number of Thunderbolt ports and can drive multiple external monitors. Apple lists the M1 MacBook Pro as only officially supporting one.
The news of more powerful M series processors makes it clear that things are going to improve dramatically in a very short time. The M series is already great, but what’s coming down the line is even better.