A new report from Chinese-language website Commercial Times floats some timelines for Apple’s next-generation of Apple Silicon destined for future Macs.
In particular, the report notes that the M2 chip will debut in the second half of 2022 (codename Staten), and that higher-end M2 Pro / M2 Max variants will be in the first half of 2023 (codename Rhodes).
These chips will apparently be manufactured using TSMC’s 4 nanometer fabrication process. Lower fabrication feature size typically yields better performance with higher efficiency, as there is simply less space between transistors on the die. In comparison, the current M1/M1 Pro/M1 Max lineup uses 5 nanometer process.
When it released the first handful of M1 Macs in October 2020, the company indicated that it will complete the Apple Silicon transition within two years. Outstanding Intel Macs left in the lineup comprise the higher-end Mac mini, 27-inch iMac, and the Mac Pro.
Therefore, this report from the Commercial Times somewhat conflicts with Apple’s stated timeline. Assuming that the Mac Pro and high-end iMac would feature M2 Pro/M2 Max internals, but that would beyond the promised two year transition period, if Commercial Times is correct in that the chips won’t be ready until 2023.
It is possible that COVID and ongoing global chip shortages have held up Apple’s plans, or perhaps Apple will announce these products at the end of 2022 and available in small quantities, with a production ramp in 2023.
The Commercial Times report could also simply be inaccurate, as it has a mixed track record when it comes to Apple rumors. Bloomberg recently said new high-end iMac and Mac Pro models will arrive in 2022.
For what it is worth, The Commercial Times indicates Apple is planning for an 18-month lifetime of Mac chips, so the ‘M3’ generation would arrive about a year and a half after the M2 debut. This is a little bit slower than the annual upgrade cycle of iPhone chips, although it roughly matches what Apple has done in regard to the iPad Pro SoC update cycle as observed in products released over the last few years.
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