Apple silicon roadmap reveals plans for Mac Professional, MacBook Air

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Enlarge / The M1 SoC dies compared to the M1 Pro and M1 Max.

Apple

Apple has already completed the second generation of Mac processors, and the third generation is expected to be manufactured using a new 3-nanometer process, according to a report in The Information citing people with direct knowledge of the plans.

The report says the second generation chips will use an “upgraded version” of the 5 nanometer process used for the M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max found in the latest Apple Silicon Macs. But unlike these first generation chips, some of the second generation chips will have two chips instead of one, allowing for more processor cores.

A second-generation chip with just one chip will be included in both the long-rumored, redesigned MacBook Air and iPads. This chip is codenamed Staten. On the other hand, the MacBook Pro will have more powerful, second-generation chips codenamed Rhodes. The second generation chips have already been completed and are ready for test production, according to The Information sources.

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But the sources also say we haven’t seen the end of the first generation. The next Mac Pro’s processor would be part of the generation that started with the M1. It’s codenamed Jade and is based on the high-end MacBook Pro’s M1 Max, but it will have two chips instead of one.

The more powerful third-generation processors are codenamed Ibiza, Lobos and Palma. Lobos and Palma are intended for the MacBook Pro and “Mac Desktops”. A less powerful variant with the code name Ibiza would go to iPads and the MacBook Air. A future A-series chip for iPhones is also to be converted to a 3-nm process at this time.

Apple’s roadmap projects constant performance improvements over time across all three generations, all of which are in active development. But the third generation is said to be a particularly momentous leap.

Much of the report focuses on relative performance compared to Intel’s chips, as Intel leadership has announced its desire to win back Apple’s business, either in terms of Apple returning to using Intel chips in Macs or that Apple is a customer of Intel’s Chips becomes a manufacturing business to produce Apple-designed chips.

The report speculates that the latter is much more likely than the first, as Apple’s third-generation chips are expected to outperform the chips that Intel itself is introducing at the time.

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