Apple Reveals New MacBook Air and M2 Chip – But is It Really 1.4x Faster?

This week in IT, I take a look at the new Apple MacBook Air announced at its annual WWDC and whether the latest M2 chip is another breakthrough or just a point iteration for Apple.

About This Week in IT

This week in IT is a weekly podcast hosted by Petri’s Editorial Director Russell Smith. Each week, Russell rounds up the most important stories for IT pros in a short video.

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  • brandonmills

    07 June, 2022 - 4:16 pm

    <p>On one hand, Apple has extremely exaggerated their GPU performance, to the point where chips that are supposed to blow a GeForce 3090 out of the water can’t compete with a 3050.</p><p><br></p><p>On the other hand…my patience with Microsoft and Qualcomm has just about reached its limit. Macs have successfully transitioned to a architecture that doesn’t destroy battery life the way an x86 / x64 does. Will MS ever successfully make the transition to ARM in a meaningful way? MS ARM market share is a rounding error.</p>

    • Russell Smith

      Premium Member
      08 June, 2022 - 7:58 am

      <p>Microsoft will get there I believe. But it will take 2-3 years. They are lucky that manageability, familiarity, and compatibility are more important for the enterprise.</p>

  • johnh3

    07 June, 2022 - 4:42 pm

    <p>AMD.s new Ryzen chipp is a 5 nanometer processor. Coming this fall. I suppose in theory it will be a power saving x86 processor.</p><p>But I guess we will wait and see.</p>

  • iAlrakis

    Premium Member
    07 June, 2022 - 4:48 pm

    <p>thx for the video. Finally decided to watch after a couple of articles and subscribed on YT. Nice addition to my other feed.</p>

    • Russell Smith

      Premium Member
      08 June, 2022 - 7:59 am

      <p>Thanks for watching! I’m glad it was useful.</p>

  • ebraiter

    07 June, 2022 - 6:08 pm

    <p>I don’t trust any manufacturer’s claim that their device is faster than another [or their old one] until properly independently verified. 1.4 times seems a bit of a leap. Most CPU increases are generally not over 20%. This is 40%.</p>

    • Stabitha.Christie

      07 June, 2022 - 7:10 pm

      <p>Apple didn’t say the M2 was 40% faster than the M1 overall. They said it was 20% faster. The 40% faster was specific to processing ProRes video. It likely isn’t an embellishment but not because the M2 is sprinkled with magic pixie dust or something. The M2 has media cores with ProRes accelerators that the M1 didn’t have. The M1 Pro/Max/Ultra all had the media cores and were similarly faster than the M1 at encoding ProRes video.&nbsp;</p>

    • wright_is

      Premium Member
      08 June, 2022 - 2:40 am

      <p>They will cherry pick the benchmarks. The processor is, generally 20% faster, but it doubles the memory speed over the M1, for example. Also, the ProRes encoder units means it runs rings around the M1 (but not Pro, Max and Ultra) and Intel chips, when doing ProRes video encoding.</p><p><br></p><p>Intel had something similar, when they introduced dedicated encoder units in their CPUs in the 2000s, when they integrated GPUs. At the time, they ran rings around the nVidia and ATi video cards <em>at video encoding</em>.</p><p><br></p><p>But with 20% faster CPU, 100% faster memory bus and the ProRes units, across a range of benchmarks that include a lot of pushing data around in memory and encoding video, you will see those huge gains. Run "office" benchmarks and you’ll probably see a less than 20% increase. They aren’t lying, per se, just cherry picking which results to compare, which is what most manufacturers do.</p><p><br></p><p>It won’t be until we get independent tests that we will see where it really stands.</p><p><br></p><p>c’t did an interesting review of the M1 Max and M1 Ultra in the new Studio 2 weeks ago, they compared it to AMD Rzyen 5th gen and Intel Core i7 and i9 12th gen chips (with nVidia 3060 and 3090 GPUs). Depending on the task at hand and the M1s were faster or slower, even on a specific task (DAW, for example), it varied greatly on which software you use. They used Steinberg Cubase, Abelton Live, Logic Pro X, Avid Pro Tools, Bitwig Studio, Cockos Reaper and Presonus Studio one and looked to see how many tracks the software could process simultaneously.</p><p><br></p><p>Naturally, Logic Pro was the clear winner, even on the standard M1, it ran rings around the other software on Intel and AMD chips – because it is fully optimised for ARM. But when it came to software that wasn’t fully optimised or for software that was equally optimised for Intel and AMD, the results were much closer. Only Bitwig Studio on the Ryzen 7-5800X3D was able to handle more tracks than the same software on an M1 Ultra, and was capable of twice as many tracks as the M1 Max.</p><p><br></p><p>(For the DAW tests, they kept adding tracks until playback began to stutter, for Abelton Live, the Ultra managed 44 tracks, Ryzen 7 33, Core i9 25, M1 Max 22. In Bitwig, it was 30, 32, 24, 16. For comparison, Logic Pro managed 85 tracks on the Ultra).</p><p><br></p><p>The final conclusion was, it depends on the software you are using and how many tracks you realistically need to mix, whether the extra price of the Studio Ultra is worth it. They did similar tests for video and photo editing, again, it depended very much on the software used, whether it made sense or not.</p><p><br></p><p>If you are using Adobe CS at the moment, it isn’t optimised for Apple silicon, so it is slower on the Ultra than on a high-end Windows PC – with the exception of Lightroom (and Bridge), one of the few Adobe apps to benefit from multi-core processors. On the other hand, if you use Serif’s Affinity Photo, it was optimised for multithreading and was much faster on the Studio.</p><p><br></p><p>The basic advice is, choose your tools, then buy the hardware that runs them best… </p><p><br></p><p>The one caveat to that is, given the current extremely high electricity prices, the Macs were performing around the same level as the Intel and AMD + nVidia 3060/3090 GPUs, for a fraction of the power consumption. If you live in an area with high energy prices (ours have climbed from 26c/kWh to around 40c/kWh this year), you should definitely consider looking at the power/performance ratio of the Macs.</p>

      • Russell Smith

        Premium Member
        08 June, 2022 - 8:02 am

        <p>A lot of good points. Especially re software optimization!</p>

  • spraly

    Premium Member
    07 June, 2022 - 6:39 pm

    <p>Laughed when I saw their benchmarks started with a 8th gen Intel 5.</p>

    • Russell Smith

      Premium Member
      08 June, 2022 - 8:00 am

      <p>Lol, yes. Dual core as well.</p>

    • behindmyscreen

      08 June, 2022 - 10:04 am

      <p>Because you missed the point that they were comparing their last intel version of the air against this version of the air?</p><p><br></p><p>Seriously…pay attention to the context and the point.</p>

      • davepete

        08 June, 2022 - 2:12 pm

        <p>Yep, and there was a good reason that’s the Intel chip they used in the Air. Intel’s faster chips don’t work in a fanless design.</p>

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