June 18, 2022

MacBook Pro M2: Slower SSD compared to M1 

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Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 base model appears to have slower SSD speeds than its M1 predecessor. YouTubers Max Tech and Created Tech have tested the 256GB base M2 model and discovered the SSD’s read speeds are around 50 percent slower than the M1 MacBook Pro with 256GB of storage.

In addition, write speeds are reportedly approximately 30 percent lower.

Testing was completed using Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test app, and Max Tech disassembled the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro and found that Apple only uses a single NAND flash storage chip.

The M1 MacBook Pro uses two 128GB NAND chips, and multiple chips can enable faster SSD speeds in parallel.

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Other 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro models with more extensive SSD storage don’t appear to suffer from slower SSD speeds. Another YouTuber with a 512GB M2 model ran tests and found similar rates to the M1 version, and most reviewers were seeded with fast 1TB models and didn’t find any speed issues.

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If SSD speeds are an issue for you on the base 13-inch MacBook Pro, you’ll need to stump up an extra $200 for the faster 512GB model. But if you’re willing to do that, you might want to wait and see what’s inside the new MacBook Air.

The base model will be priced slightly less at $1,199, but if it has slower SSD speeds, an identically-priced $1,499 512GB model will presumably have the two NAND chips. Unlike the M2 MacBook Pro, the M2 MacBook Air also gets a significant redesign — including new colors, a larger display, a 1080p webcam, and MagSafe charging.

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We’ve reached out to Apple to comment on the SSD changes in the MacBook Pro, and we’ll update you accordingly if we hear back.

The brand-new 2022 update of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 chip will be available in India starting June 17. It will begin shipping on June 24. The MacBook Pro with M2 was announced at WWDC 2022, alongside the M2 MacBook Air, though exact availability facts weren’t revealed. Both were set to be made available commencing next month, so, in a way, the MacBook Pro M2 is embarking a bit early. There is no word on the M2 MacBook Air at the time of writing.

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The 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 cost in India starts at Rs 1,29,900. It is for an M2 version with an 8-Core GPU, 8-Core CPU, 8GB Unified Memory, with 256GB SSD Storage. You can get the M2 MacBook Pro with up to a 10-Core GPU, 24GB Unified 8-Core CPU, and 2TB SSD Storage for Rs 2,49,900.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro stays unchanged mainly from its M1-based predecessor down to the Touch Bar on the top of the keyboard. The screen, design, and port selection are all the same. So naturally, this is a pro-machine with active cooling and longer battery life, with Apple claiming up to 20-hour video playback.

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The actual upgrade is the underlying chip. Apple’s new M2 chip powers the 2022 13-inch MacBook Pro. Apple claims that M2 takes “the industry-leading performance per watt of M1 even further with an 18% faster CPU, a 35% more powerful GPU, and a 40% faster Neural Engine.” In addition, with up to 24GB of fast unified memory, M2 is billed to deliver up to 50% more memory bandwidth than M1. There will naturally be efficiency improvements, too.

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The M2 is Apple’s next-generation System on a Chip (SoC) developed for use in Macs and iPads. It marks Apple’s continued work to transition away from the Intel chips used in Macs until 2020.

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As a “System on a Chip,” the M2 integrates several different components, including the CPU, GPU, unified memory architecture (RAM), Neural Engine, Secure Enclave, SSD controller, image signal processor, and encode/decode engines. Thunderbolt controller with USB 4 support, and more power the different features in the Mac.

Before Apple silicon, Macs used multiple chips for CPU, I/O, and security, but Apple’s effort to integrate these chips is why the M2 is much faster and more efficient than Intel chips. The unified memory architecture that Apple has included is also a significant factor because all of the technologies in the M2 can access the same data without having to swap between multiple pools of memory.

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Most new iPads and iPhones have a Neural Engine, a particular processor that makes machine learning models fast, but not much is publicly known about how this processor works.

The Apple Neural Engine is a kind of NPU, which stands for Neural Processing Unit. It’s like a GPU, but rather than accelerating graphics, an NPU accelerates neural network operations like convolutions and matrix multiplies.

The ANE isn’t the best NPU out there — many firms besides Apple are developing their own AI accelerator chips. However, besides the Neural Engine, the most prominent NPU is Google’s TPU (or Tensor Processing Unit).

It points out that not every Core ML model can benefit the ANE fully. Moreover, the cause can be complicated. Hence this document tries to respond to the most standard questions.

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The ANE is excellent for making ML models run fast on iPhones and iPads. A model optimized for the ANE will seriously outperform the CPU and GPU. But the ANE also has limitations. Unfortunately, Apple isn’t giving third-party developers guidance on optimizing their models to take advantage of the ANE. Instead, it’s mostly a trial-and-error process to determine what works and doesn’t.

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