Apple's M1 computers have made a big splash since their release, with the new iMac 24-inch (2021), MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) all really impressing us. But we've been waiting to hear news of more powerful options, and it looks like our MacBook Pro wishes might be answered in the next few months.
That's according a report at Bloomberg, which says that we can expect a variant of the M1 chip with 10 processor cores to appear in a redesigned MacBook Pro that could appear as soon as this summer.
The current M1 chip features eight cores, with four high-performance cores and four lower-power 'efficiency' cores – but this 10-core chip would apparently feature eight performance cores and just two efficiency cores, according to the report. This would potentially make it much more potent than what you'd expect from just the two extra cores, because you're also replacing some existing cores with faster ones.
Added to that, the new chips will have 16 or 32 GPU cores, compared to a maximum of eight in current M1 chips. GPU powers often scales pretty much in line with the hardware you throw at it, so double or quadrupling the cores here may well mean double the performance in some tasks.
In my iMac 24-inch review, I said the GPU power was the only big concern I had with the M1 for desktops, and though these chips are coming to MacBook Pro first, the Bloomberg report says they'll likely find their way into Mac Mini too, and I'd bet they're in line for whatever larger size of iMac Apple makes next to replace the 27-inch Intel model.
The new chips will also offer up to 64GB of RAM, compared to a maximum of 16GB in the M1.
One thing we don't expect from these MacBook Pros is a mini-LED screen, which has supposedly been pushed back as an update for 2022. That leaves the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021) as the only mini-LED product for now…
Will we hear about these products at Apple's WWDC keynote in June? Last year it was only software at this event, but perhaps we'll get the elusive 'One More Thing' this time.
Don't forget the Air
The Bloomberg report also mentioned the new MacBook Air, the colourful new design of which was recently leaked. This is said to have a new version of the M1 with the same number of processor cores (though running a little faster) and a boost to nine or 10 graphics cores, up from seven or eight currently.
Will this be the M2 chip? If Apple can use a smaller manufacturing process and slightly improved architecture, we could be talking a 10%-20% performance boost without using any more power. Or perhaps a similar level of performance and using even less power.
If the new ultra-thin design is accurate, that would be just fine with me – I don't need any more power than it currently has, but an even more portable design would be very welcome.