Apple M2 chip: Everything you need to know

Apple Wwdc22 M2 Chip Hero 220606 Big.jpg.large 2x
(Image credit: Apple)

At this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple unveiled the second generation of its Apple silicon processor for the Mac: the M2 chip. Along with the announcement, the company revealed that the redesigned MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro would be the first Macs to feature the new processor.

With performance and power efficiency improvements across the board, the M2 checks all of the boxes as a worthy successor to the M1 chip that started it all. Here's everything you need to know about Apple's M2 processor.

What is the M2 chip?

M2 is Apple's second generation of Apple silicon SoC (system on a chip) for the Mac. A successor to the M1, the M2 improves performance per watt with an eighteen percent faster CPU, a thirty-five percent more powerful GPU, and a forty percent faster Neural Engine.

Johny Srouji, Apple's senior vice president of Hardware Technologies, says that the next-generation processor "goes beyond the remarkable features of M1."

M2 starts the second generation of M-series chips and goes beyond the remarkable features of M1. With our relentless focus on power-efficient performance, M2 delivers a faster CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine. And along with higher memory bandwidth and new capabilities like ProRes acceleration, M2 continues the tremendous pace of innovation in Apple silicon for the Mac.

M2 introduces second-generation 5-nanometer technology

Apple Wwdc22 M2 Chip M1 Chip 2up

Apple Wwdc22 M2 Chip M1 Chip 2up (Image credit: Apple)

The M2 processor, while still being a 5-nanometer chip like the M1, has been enhanced using second-generation 5-nanometer technology. That improved technology has increased the number of transistors in the M2 to 20 billion — a twenty-five percent increase over the M1 chip.

Apple says that the additional transistors improve features across the entire processor. For example, the memory controller can now deliver 100 GBs of unified memory bandwidth — a whopping fifty percent increase over the M1.

The M2 offers even more unified memory

Apple Wwdc22 M2 Soc

Apple Wwdc22 M2 Soc (Image credit: Apple)

While the M1 processor only allowed customers to configure up to 16GB of unified memory on their MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, iMac, or Mac mini, the M2 offers even more memory.

With the M2, customers can now upgrade the unified memory in their computer from a base of 8GB to not only 16GB but 24 GB as well. With the additional memory, Apple says that customers will be able to handle "larger and more complex workloads" with their Mac.

Power efficiency gets even better with the M2

One of the key goals with the M1 chip was to deliver outstanding performance while maintaining exceptional battery life, and things have not changed with the M2 chip. The new CPU features faster performance and enhanced efficiency cores, resulting in an eighteen-performance increase at the same power consumption level.

Apple Wwdc22 M2 Chip Cpu Perf Vs Power 01

Apple Wwdc22 M2 Chip Cpu Perf Vs Power 01 (Image credit: Apple)

The performance improvements get even better when taking a look at the GPU. The M2 features a second-generation GPU with up to ten cores. That's two more than currently offered with the M1 chip.

Apple says that the new design and extra cores enable performance gains of twenty-five percent over the M1 at the same power consumption level. It can go even higher, reaching a max performance improvement of thirty-five percent over its predecessor at slightly higher power consumption.

Apple Wwdc22 M2 Chip Gpu Perf Vs Power 01

Apple Wwdc22 M2 Chip Gpu Perf Vs Power 01 (Image credit: Apple)

Apple has also improved the Neural Engine with M2. The new engine can now process up to 15.8 trillion operations per second, a whopping forty percent increase over the M1 processor.

What else can the M2 chip do?

Apple Wwdc22 Macbook Air Final Cut Pro

Apple Wwdc22 Macbook Air Final Cut Pro (Image credit: Apple)

The M2 features several other upgrades that users will appreciate, including support for 8K video and a ProRes video engine built directly into the chip:

  • The media engine includes a higher-bandwidth video decoder, supporting 8K H.264 and HEVC video.
  • Apple's powerful ProRes video engine enables playback of multiple streams of both 4K and 8K video.
  • Apple's latest Secure Enclave provides best-in-class security.
  • A new image signal processor (ISP) delivers better image noise reduction.

What Macs will get the M2 chip?

M2 Macbook Air Open

M2 Macbook Air Open (Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)

The redesigned MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro are the first Macs to get the new M2 processor. Not surprisingly, these models quickly made our list of the best Macs on the market.

Apple has not confirmed if the M2 will be coming to other Macs, but it is safe to assume that the iMac and Mac mini are likely to be updated with the new processor as both also featured the M1 chip.

The M2 is unlikely to come to the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro models, the Mac Studio, or Apple's upcoming redesign to the Mac Pro. The company is more likely to unveil an M2 Pro and M2 Max chip for its professional-focused Macs down the road.

A lot to see

Apple's M2 chip is another significant step for the company's signature silicon product. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here. Stay tuned.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.