Mark Gurman’s latest piece at Bloomberg lays down a pretty thorough look at what is likely coming down Apple’s Mac pipeline:
Redesigned MacBook Pros are expected to debut as soon as early this summer, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal matter, followed by a revamped MacBook Air, a new low-end MacBook Pro and an all-new Mac Pro workstation. The company is also working on a higher-end Mac mini desktop and larger iMac. The machines will feature processors designed in-house that will greatly outpace the performance and capabilities of the current M1 chips, the people said.
In terms of the big picture, much of what Gurman is reporting here is obvious: of course Apple is working better version of its chips, and of course new Macs will use them.
But the specifics are where it gets interesting. For example, those redesigned high-end MacBook Pros will feature MagSafe, more ports including HDMI, an SD card slot, and up to 64GB of RAM. All of those were absent from the low-end MacBook Pros launched last fall, resulting in many pro users holding off on making the jump to Apple silicon Macs. Enabling some of those features will require the next-generation of Apple chips, which Gurman reports will include 10 cores (compared to the M1’s 8), with either 16 or 32 graphics cores to boot. This, in my estimation, seems like to be the M2, and if they really are due this summer, it seems as though an introduction at WWDC next month isn’t out of the question—though I’d expect to see them shipping a bit later, as per the M1 iMac.
Meanwhile, the MacBook Air and low-end MacBook Pro models are due to get a faster version of the M1, which seems—if Apple follows its mobile chip naming conventions—to potentially be the M1X? Alternatively, it could be the M2, with the higher-end chip getting a different letter designator. (The P1?)
What this news does seem to solidify is that Apple’s transition to its own chips is a two-step. First, a selection of low-end machines where Apple can basically keep the designs unchanged and swap in a processor that’s based on the state of the art in what is already designing for its mobile devices.
Second, redesigned Macs that are built on even more powerful chips that will likely outpace what the iPad and iPhone have used so far.
In some ways, the newly released M1 iMac bridges that divide, featuring both the low-end M1 chip as well as a refreshed design.
At the end of the transition is the Mac Pro replacement, with 20 or 40 core variants, and 64 or 128 cores for graphics.
The biggest question mark seems to be around the larger iMac, which Gurman reports was put on hold to allow the company to focus on the 24-inch model. It’s unclear how far along that development was; it certainly suggests we’re unlikely to see a larger iMac before fall, and probably later than that, depending on challenges such as the current chip shortages.