Apple’s Next Mac Chip Is Almost Ready

Just after unveiling a new iMac powered by its M1 chip, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is preparing the next version of Apple Silicon. The new processor, which will ostensibly be called the M2, has now entered mass production at foundry partner Taiwan Semiconductor (NYSE: TSM), according to Nikkei Asia.

New M2-powered Macs are expected to launch later this year.

M2 incoming

Apple announced its transition to proprietary in-house chips last summer, expecting the process to take about two years. The Cupertino tech giant then proceeded to introduce a handful of M1-powered Macs in the fall: Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. Last week, Apple followed up with a redesigned iMac and iPad Pro with the M1 chip inside.

The M2 could first make its way into new MacBooks that may launch in the second half of 2021, according to the report. The system-on-a-chip (SoC) is then expected to power other Macs. After introducing the 24-inch M1-powered iMac last week, Apple probably has a more powerful iMac in the pipeline, which is rumored to have a 30-inch display and would replace the current 27-inch model.

Apple has been positioning the 27-inch iMac as a desktop for creative professionals, which typically need more processing power and performance than consumer-oriented machines. The M1’s new unified memory architecture maxes out at 16 GB of memory, which may not be sufficient for power users.

The M2 is built on TSMC’s 5-nanometer plus (N5P) production process, which facilitates greater power efficiency along with substantial performance improvements. 

The Mac still matters

Even though the Mac business is large and mature, that segment of Apple continues to enjoy steady growth. Mac revenue hit a record $30.1 billion in 2020, driven in part by the shift to remote work that also buoyed the broader PC industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mac remains important for Apple’s overall business, representing roughly 10% of total revenue last year.

Apple stopped disclosing unit sales several years ago, but market researcher IDC estimates that Apple’s Mac volume rose 112% in the first quarter, to 6.7 million. However, it’s worth noting that the entire PC market suffered from severe supply chain disruptions in the first quarter of 2020 related to the public health crisis, creating unusually favorable comparisons for this year.

Following years of various setbacks, Apple has grown wary of relying on Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) for chips. By taking development of one of its most important components in-house, Apple can reduce operational risks by streamlining its supply chain, exert greater control over chip specifications, and enjoy cost savings — all while differentiating its products from competitors’.

The company transitioned the iPhone to A-series processors back in 2010 and Apple’s proprietary silicon has grown increasingly sophisticated in the years since. Apple’s chip portfolio now includes A-series, S-series, T-series, W-series, H-series, U-series, and M-series.

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Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. The Motley Fool recommends Intel and recommends the following options: long January 2023 $57.50 calls on Intel, long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple, short January 2023 $57.50 puts on Intel, and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. Millennial Money is part of The Motley Fool network. Millennial Money has a disclosure policy.

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