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Admiral

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 14, 2015
392
967
So, I dropped my MacBook Pro M1 16" on a corner and busted the screen. It's in for repair now. A friend loaned me an M2 MacBook Air to cover the service period, and I am really impressed with this computer. It's very responsive, great keyboard, nice screen, and very light. Amazingly light after being burdened with the 16" as a daily driver. The only weakness of the M2 Air is that it drives only one external monitor, and I am accustomed to two. If Apple would have some pity on its customers and address this artificial limitation, the M2 Air could be the perfect laptop.

The rumors of a 15" Air are tantalizing, as is the possibility that Apple might bring back the 12" MacBook with Apple Silicon.
 
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tstafford

macrumors 6502a
Sep 13, 2022
984
901
I've been wanting something small to replace my Intel MBA. I use it for bedtime email, web and surfing. I profoundly dislike iOS so the iPad was out. Between rumors that the 12" isn't coming soon and Best Buy having the base M2 MBA on sale for $999 ($789 after trade-in), I pulled the trigger.

So far, here's what I think:
  • Although I can't remember the last time I had a Mac w/ only 8GB RAM, the base machine is fine for this particular purpose. I've been careful to not leave bunches of apps open nor to have tons of Safari tabs, but it runs fine and isn't getting in to the swap. I run Safari, Mail, Messages, Activity Monitor, Notes and VPN w/o any trouble
  • The battery is incredible. I'm fairly confident I could do an overnight business trip w/o taking a charger. That's kind of huge for me. When I fly I like to travel extremely light. I'll take the MBA on any short trips
  • The weight is fine and obviously lighter than my MBP14 but the form factor, although smaller, isn't small enough for my taste. If they make a 12", I'll likely buy it unless that means sacrificing battery life
  • Sound is better than I expected and totally acceptable
  • The screen is okay but not great. It's noticeably inferior to the screen on my MBP14. Less vibrant, colors aren't as good, real estate is smaller to the point of slightly annoying
Net/net: At the price I paid, I am thrilled. It's far better for me than an iPAD (and cheaper). It compares very favorably to an M2 iPAD and this is probably the right comparison. It doesn't stack up to the MBP14 and if I could only own one, I'd choose the MBP14 hands down
 

Admiral

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 14, 2015
392
967
I think it's possible that with the move to TSMC 3nm, and attendant power-consumption/heat reduction from the process advancement, we may be offered an M3 Pro option on the 15" MacBook Air.
 
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DanielSw

macrumors 6502
Aug 31, 2009
400
209
Clearwater, FL
So, I dropped my MacBook Pro M1 16" on a corner and busted the screen. It's in for repair now. A friend loaned me an M2 MacBook Air to cover the service period, and I am really impressed with this computer. It's very responsive, great keyboard, nice screen, and very light. Amazingly light after being burdened with the 16" as a daily driver. The only weakness of the M2 Air is that it drives only one external monitor, and I am accustomed to two. If Apple would have some pity on its customers and address this artificial limitation, the M2 Air could be the perfect laptop.

The rumors of a 15" Air are tantalizing, as is the possibility that Apple might bring back the 12" MacBook with Apple Silicon.
I love my M2 MacBook Air, too!

I ordered it with 24 GB RAMM and a 2TB SSD in Space Gray. I run Adobe Creative Cloud apps, as well as Foundry Modo on it. Though inDesign is not native yet, it still runs quite well.

I bought a 2011 27" Apple Thunderbolt display from Mac of All Trades, and it runs great, as well.

We have a 5TB Dropbox account, which works very well to manage all of our files across all of our devices: iPad Pro 12.9", and iPhones. I just bought a 6TB SanDisk G-drive external for $200 to use for Time Machine backups.
 
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Sydde

macrumors 68030
Aug 17, 2009
2,559
7,061
IOKWARDI
The battery is incredible. I'm fairly confident I could do an overnight business trip w/o taking a charger. That's kind of huge for me. When I fly I like to travel extremely light. I'll take the MBA on any short trips
I know it is beside the point, but just about every hotel in the country will have at least one USB-A port in the room. Usually there will be one in a bedside lamp and another at the table. An A<->C cable is all you would need, just to be on the safe side.


(Of course, the NSA might be using those ports to spy on people – but I doubt it.)
 

MacPoulet

macrumors 6502a
Dec 11, 2012
550
380
Canada
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senttoschool

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2017
2,596
5,399
I think it's possible that with the move to TSMC 3nm, and attendant power-consumption/heat reduction from the process advancement, we may be offered an M3 Pro option on the 15" MacBook Air.
I think what people need to understand is that chip makers, including Apple, will almost always design chips that fit a power envelope. This means you should expect faster chips with a new generation of node tech, instead of chips that use lower wattage. Apple isn't going to make an M3 Pro that uses as little energy as an M2. It's going to make an M3 Pro that will use as much energy as M2 Pro, but faster.
 
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Bodhitree

macrumors 68000
Apr 5, 2021
1,992
2,111
Netherlands
I think what people need to understand is that chip makers, including Apple, will almost always design chips that fit a power envelope. This means you should expect faster chips with a new generation of node tech, instead of chips that use lower wattage. Apple isn't going to make an M3 Pro that uses as little energy as an M2. It's going to make an M3 Pro that will use as much energy as M2 Pro, but faster.

I suspect they will make a tradeoff of lower energy usage and increased speed, because that translates to better battery life under load. They will want to try and recapture the single-core speed lead that they held briefly with M1, and at the same time also bring down energy and heat.

The places where they still need to improve are mostly GPU speed, they still lack significantly compared to Nvidia’s desktop solutions which is not good for a lot of rendering, development and acceleration workloads.

Guess we will see when they present M3.
 

leman

macrumors Core
Oct 14, 2008
19,360
19,432
I think it's possible that with the move to TSMC 3nm, and attendant power-consumption/heat reduction from the process advancement, we may be offered an M3 Pro option on the 15" MacBook Air.

Very unlikely, for the reasons outlined by @senttoschool. But I can imagine that upcoming Mx series could be capable of higher performance and might have few extra spare watts in the bigger enclosure to flex their muscle.

I suspect they will make a tradeoff of lower energy usage and increased speed, because that translates to better battery life under load.

Battery life under load is not really an interesting metric, at least not with today's technology. Let's say you are running some moderately demanding CPU-driven workload on a M2 Pro. Your system power consumption will be around 30 watts, 20 of those coming from the CPU itself and the rest being RAM, I/O devices, as well as supporting circuitry. With the 70 watt-hour battery of the 14" Pro you are looking at 2 hours and 30 minutes of battery life. Let's say you have reduced your CPU power consumption by whopping 25%. Now it draws 15 watts instead of 20. Your resulting battery life is 2 hours and 50 minutes. You only gained 20 minutes (or roughly 10%), which is not going to make any difference.

Under load, it makes much more sense to optimise for energy instead of power, at least for laptops. If you want good battery runtimes, the key is minimising the baseline power consumption. The reason that Apple Silicon has such an excellent battery runtime is not because the CPU/GPU are more efficient. The M2 Pro will draw the same amount of power as a similar class x86 mobile CPU running a long multithreaded workload. The battery life is so good because Apple Silicon consumes almost no power while idling, which is achieved by aggressively powering down circuitry and busses when not needed, using custom RAM with extremely low baseline power consumption (lower than standard LPDDR5!), and caching the data using the power-efficient on-chip SRAM. Apple even goes as far as maintaining an expensive on-chip framebuffer cache for the display controller in order to save power transferring that data from RAM.

They will want to try and recapture the single-core speed lead that they held briefly with M1, and at the same time also bring down energy and heat.

If anything, they are more likely to increase the power consumption of the chips in order to improve performance. Doing so will not compromise the battery life (because baseline will stay very low).

The places where they still need to improve are mostly GPU speed, they still lack significantly compared to Nvidia’s desktop solutions which is not good for a lot of rendering, development and acceleration workloads.

Yeah, that's the tricky one. Nvidia is ahead both in the number of compute units and clock speeds. AD104 (the chip used for 4080 mobile) has 60 SMs compared to M2 Maxes 38 GPU cores at the same node size, and that with M2 Max die being 70% larger! Even if Apple were to clock the Max GPU at 2Ghz it would still not be enough to catch up with the 4080 mobile in raw TFLOPS. They would either need to produce much larger chip to accommodate additional GPU cores (which would be extremely expensive) or use multi-die tech (which will likely consume more power). This is where the disadvantage of the SoC model comes into play. For desktop they can of course always go multi-die, but the cost of these products will likely remain relatively high.
 

mr_roboto

macrumors 6502a
Sep 30, 2020
795
1,709
Under load, it makes much more sense to optimise for energy instead of power, at least for laptops.
Power is energy over time. 1 watt = 1 joule/second. If you reduce the power required to provide a given performance level, you are simultaneously optimizing for energy.

The M2 Pro will draw the same amount of power as a similar class x86 mobile CPU running a long multithreaded workload.
I don't think this is accurate. At identical performance, a M2 Pro should generally consume much less power.

Remember this graph?


x86 CPUs have gotten quite a bit better since then, particularly in terms of absolute performance, but their power/perf curves have a long way to go before they catch up to Apple Silicon.

The battery life is so good because Apple Silicon consumes almost no power while idling, which is achieved by aggressively powering down circuitry and busses when not needed, using custom RAM with extremely low baseline power consumption (lower than standard LPDDR5!), and caching the data using the power-efficient on-chip SRAM. Apple even goes as far as maintaining an expensive on-chip framebuffer cache for the display controller in order to save power transferring that data from RAM.
Yes, Apple's idle power is fantastic. That doesn't mean their active power isn't fantastic too. Their CPUs and GPUs are measurably far more efficient under load.

Everyone knows one of the consequences. Intel 16" MBPs had to run their fans even at idle, and would get somewhat loud under moderate loads. 16" M1 and M2 machines can keep their fans at 0 RPM under fairly significant load.

When the first Apple Silicon Macs shipped, one of the really interesting comparisons I saw people do was compile tests. AS MacBooks made it practical to compile large and complex software projects on battery power, when it had been unthinkable to do the same on Intel MacBooks. Not only did the compile complete faster, it used a tiny fraction of the battery's capacity instead of half or more.

Yes, under worst case loads, you can still drain the battery flat in a couple hours. But not all sustained loads look like the worst case.
 

leman

macrumors Core
Oct 14, 2008
19,360
19,432
Power is energy over time. 1 watt = 1 joule/second. If you reduce the power required to provide a given performance level, you are simultaneously optimizing for energy.

What I meant is that increasing performance at the same power consumption can yield better energy efficiency per unit of work done than reducing power at the same performance level, especially in mobile context, where other components consume non-negligible amount of power and the entire process is dynamic. A great example: efficiency cores A15 and A16. Their CPU cores use more power under load than A14, but since they are also considerably faster, the system has more opportunities to idle.

I don't think this is accurate. At identical performance, a M2 Pro should generally consume much less power.

At identical performance, yes. But I am talking about SKU power target. An M2 Pro CPU will sustain around 35 watts, same as P-series Intel or U/H-series AMD.

Of course, the new "high-performance" mobile x86 chips are simply underclocked desktop units and consume more power than enthusiast CPUs of just six years ago. This entire situation is absurd. And it's even more absurd when you see even seasoned tech reviewers praise Intel for their strong absolute performance. I really can't believe that Intel and Nvidia can get away with this stuff.


Everyone knows one of the consequences. Intel 16" MBPs had to run their fans even at idle, and would get somewhat loud under moderate loads.

Yep, because of the ridiculously high turbo limits set on these SKUs. And since the CPU would burst hard any time it gets any work, you'd get in an silly situation of your CPU drawing 50 watts just to run a code highlighter or parse a spreadsheet. Apple with their 5W max single-threaded cap behave much more sanely here.
 
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DanielSw

macrumors 6502
Aug 31, 2009
400
209
Clearwater, FL
It's not?!? My copy of InDesign sure claims to be Universal (2)...
I just now checked Adobe's site and found this reference for the asterisk next to "inDesign" in their list of native apps:

"(*These apps run natively on Mac computers with the M1 chip but we're still testing and optimizing them for Mac computers with the M2 chip. We recommend using these apps on Mac computers with the M1 chip.)"

I'm talking about the M2 MacBook Air, which I own and use daily, upon which the current version of inDesign seems to run well.

It seems to me that, since Adobe makes this notation, it seems to imply that there is still more work to be done on inDesign to make it an unqualified native app.

Link: https://helpx.adobe.com/download-install/kb/apple-silicon-m1-chip.html
 

VivienM

macrumors 6502
Jun 11, 2022
496
341
Toronto, ON
I just now checked Adobe's site and found this reference for the asterisk next to "inDesign" in their list of native apps:

"(*These apps run natively on Mac computers with the M1 chip but we're still testing and optimizing them for Mac computers with the M2 chip. We recommend using these apps on Mac computers with the M1 chip.)"

I'm talking about the M2 MacBook Air, which I own and use daily, upon which the current version of inDesign seems to run well.

Link: https://helpx.adobe.com/download-install/kb/apple-silicon-m1-chip.html
What is Adobe smoking?!? If we were talking about software for M1 running on M8 and ten newer versions of macOS, maybe this would make sense... but why would anyone think M2 has any unknowns/regressions/etc such that they'd recommend M1 over M2 running the same OS?

I'm sure they don't take the same approach to new chipsets/GPUs/processors in Windowsland. "These apps run natively on Windows computers with the Intel ______, ________, _________, and ________ and the AMD ______, ________, and _________ processors, but we're still testing and optimizing them for Windows computers running Intel Raptor Lake and AMD Zen 4 processors. We recommend using these apps on Windows computers with __________ processors."
 
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jdb8167

macrumors 601
Nov 17, 2008
4,783
4,507
"(*These apps run natively on Mac computers with the M1 chip but we're still testing and optimizing them for Mac computers with the M2 chip. We recommend using these apps on Mac computers with the M1 chip.)"

I'm talking about the M2 MacBook Air, which I own and use daily, upon which the current version of inDesign seems to run well.

It seems to me that, since Adobe makes this notation, it seems to imply that there is still more work to be done on inDesign to make it an unqualified native app.

Link: https://helpx.adobe.com/download-install/kb/apple-silicon-m1-chip.html
Not fully optimized doesn’t mean it’s not native. Just that they have optimizations still to do on the native code that will speed up the M2 generation.
 

jdb8167

macrumors 601
Nov 17, 2008
4,783
4,507
What is Adobe smoking?!? If we were talking about software for M1 running on M8 and ten newer versions of macOS, maybe this would make sense... but why would anyone think M2 has any unknowns/regressions/etc such that they'd recommend M1 over M2 running the same OS?
It seems like corporate ass-covering to me. They haven’t bothered to test on new hardware yet. It is very unlikely that software that works on an M1 will have trouble on an M2.
 
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VivienM

macrumors 6502
Jun 11, 2022
496
341
Toronto, ON
Not fully optimized doesn’t mean it’s not native. Just that they have optimizations still to do on the native code that will speed up the M2 generation.
Is Adobe, in 2023, actually going to do that kind of old-fashioned optimizations for every generation of Apple Silicon?

One observation: I've noticed a number of software vendors talking about how their software is optimized/native/etc on M1, rather than Apple Silicon. (Of course, at least for the first... year?... Apple Silicon and M1 were the same thing) I wonder if that kind of mindset (which overlooks the fact that the Mx chips are all the same architecture, should be compatible with each other, etc) could explain why some manager who's been told that their software has now been optimized for M1 is presuming that it's not 'optimized' for M2.

Or maybe it's just an attempt to be clearer with customers. Does it say anywhere on my M1 Max MacBook Pro that this is an "Apple Silicon" machine? It says "M1 Max", but I'm not sure it actually says anywhere (other than in the deep bowels of the machine, like if you run uname -a in terminal) that "M1 Max" is a form of "Apple Silicon"? So maybe the software vendors think that saying "optimized for M1" makes it clearer to end-users whether this applies to their machine or not?
 
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dmccloud

macrumors 68040
Sep 7, 2009
3,035
1,789
Anchorage, AK
I just now checked Adobe's site and found this reference for the asterisk next to "inDesign" in their list of native apps:

"(*These apps run natively on Mac computers with the M1 chip but we're still testing and optimizing them for Mac computers with the M2 chip. We recommend using these apps on Mac computers with the M1 chip.)"

I'm talking about the M2 MacBook Air, which I own and use daily, upon which the current version of inDesign seems to run well.

It seems to me that, since Adobe makes this notation, it seems to imply that there is still more work to be done on inDesign to make it an unqualified native app.

Link: https://helpx.adobe.com/download-install/kb/apple-silicon-m1-chip.html

That's Adobe being either stupid or lazy (if not both). Apps are either Apple Silicon native or they're not AS-native, there are no generational changes that have to be made. There wouldn't be enough changes between M1 and M2 to even warrant new rounds of testing. The other reason for this weird disclaimer could be that Adobe is planning a future price increase, and wants to refer to "increased development costs" as their justification.
 
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