Apple is reportedly gearing up to launch a new high-end model of its beloved MacBook Air by the end of 2021, with the upcoming notebook ostensibly running next-generation Apple silicon.
- The next MacBook Air will be a high-end model.
- It’ll run Apple’s next-generation Mac chip.
- The new Apple silicon will run faster than the M1.
- It’ll boost the number of GPU cores to nine or ten.
The next MacBook Air should debut Apple M2
Carrying a code name “Staten,” this piece of Apple silicon is “a direct successor to the M1 processor” which powers the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020), Mac mini (2020), 13-inch MacBook Air (2020) and 24-inch iMac (2021), according to Mark Gurman of Bloomberg.
That computer will feature a revamped appearance, too.
For a redesigned, higher-end MacBook Air planned for as early as the end of the year, Apple is planning a direct successor to the M1 processor. That chip, codenamed Staten, will include the same number of computing cores as the M1 but run faster. It will also see the number of graphics cores increase from seven or eight to nine or ten.
Given the MacBook Air is Apple’s first computer to debut the company’s custom M1 chip, it would only be fitting if the next MacBook Air doubled as a launchpad to the M1’s successor. That high-end MacBook Air is likely going to cost more, but Apple could keep the current M1 MacBook Air models in the lineup for those who don’t need the latest and greatest technology.
Who will manufacture next-gen Mac chips?
So it sounds like the new chip will have a higher clock frequency than the current M1, which goes all the way up to 3.2GHz. A faster clock coupled with a smaller semiconductor processing technology should result in a smaller chip that runs faster while consuming less power.
Trade publication DigiTimes says that Apple has already contracted its chip partner TSMC to build the next-generation Mac chips on its new four-nanometer node. By comparison, TSMC’s current five-nanometer process technology is used for Apple M1 fabrication.
Will Apple M2 completely replace Apple M1?
The report makes it sound as if this new chip will replace the M1 in some Mac models.
“Apple is also planning an update to the low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro with that same chip,” writes Gurman. But does “the low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro” refer to the current $1,299 and $1,499 M1 MacBook Airs or the two Intel configurations that Apple is still selling?
- $1,799 13-inch MacBook Pro: 2.0GHz Intel Core i5 with Intel Iris Plus graphics
- $1,999 13-inch MacBook Pro: 2.0GHz Intel Core i5 with Intel Iris Plus graphics
At any rate, boosting the number of graphics cores to nine or ten (up from seven or eight), along with having faster computing cores, should theoretically permit Apple engineers to create viable Apple silicon replacements for the current Intel-based 13-inch MacBook Pros.