New models of Mac mini desktops and MacBook Pro laptops with upgrades to Apple’s M2, M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, the company announced on Tuesday.

In addition, Apple introduced an entry-level Mini with an M2 processor priced at US$599, $499 for the education market.

“That was one of the more interesting parts of the announcement,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City.

“It’s not often that you see Apple announce a low entry price point,” Rubin told TechNewsWorld.

“At $599, the price is designed to bring in new users, but even higher configurations can add up in price very quickly,” said Jitesh Ubrani, a research manager at IDC, an international market research company.

Those higher configurations with the M2 Pro chip start at $1,299, $1,199 for the education market.

Ubrani told TechNewsWorld that the muscle that the M2 Pro adds to the mini could potentially cannibalize the market for Apple’s premium desktop, the Mac Studio. “It’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he said.

“The mini may appeal to budding creators or consumers who have started to appreciate desktops a bit more, especially as desktops have seen a bit of an uptick during the pandemic,” he added.

More Video Editing Muscle

The M2 Mini features an eight-core CPU — four high-performance and four high-efficiency cores — and a 10-core GPU. According to Apple, with the new chip, the Mini is up to 50% faster than the previous model.

The maximum configuration for its integrated memory is 24GB with a bandwidth of 100GB per second.

Apple Mac mini M2 rear view of ports

The Mac mini M2 model has two Thunderbolt 4 ports and supports up to two displays. (Image credit: Apple)

With the M2, ProRes acceleration is added to the Mini, giving it some real punch for handling video. Apple says the M2 mini can handle tasks like video editing in Final Cut Pro up to twice as fast as previous hardware models as well as two streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps or 12 streams of 4K at 30 fps Can run till

Overall, Apple claims the M2 Mini is up to five times faster than the bestselling Windows desktop.

The M2 brings a 12-core CPU to the Pro Mini with eight high-performance and four high-efficiency cores and a GPU of up to 19 cores.

Back view of Apple Mac mini M2 Pro ports

The Mac mini M2 Pro model includes four Thunderbolt 4 ports and support for up to three displays. (Image credit: Apple)

The memory in the Pro model can be up to 32GB with a bandwidth of 200GB/s.

The M2 also gives the Pro Mini more video handling power, allowing it to play up to five streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps or 23 streams of 4K video at 30 fps.

Apple said the M2 Pro Mini is up to 14 times faster than the fastest Intel-based Mini.

minimize mac studio

“The fact that Apple is allowing these chips in the existing Mac Mini is sobering,” said Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.

“This makes the Mac mini a more formidable content creator solution than the much higher priced Mac Studio,” Vena told TechNewsWorld.

Rubin said that getting the more powerful chip in the Mini closes the gap between it and the Mac Studio.

“The Mini can do a more professional-level workflow,” he explained, “so it could be a match for people who want to mix and match peripherals but can’t justify the expense on a Mac Studio.”

“It also provides a way for people still on Intel Macs to move to Apple silicon and experience its advantages,” he added.

When he heard that Apple was refreshing the Mini, David McQueen, a research director at ABI Research, an international technology advisory firm, thought the move was designed to satisfy customers already invested in the Apple ecosystem. Will be done. “But performance improvements and price drops could entice new consumers to the product,” he told TechNewsWorld.

fostering leader’s leadership

The new MacBook Pro laptops will also introduce an M2 Pro model and an M2 Max version.

The Max chip has the same 12-core CPU as the M2 Pro but with an expanded GPU of up to 38 cores and a larger L2 cache.

The chip can also address more integrated memory – up to 96GB – at faster bandwidth – 400GB/s.

MacBook Pro prices range from $1,999 for the 14-inch model with the M2 Pro chip to $3,499 for the 16-inch model with the M2 Max chip.

MacBook Pro is available with M2 Pro and M2 Max processors

The new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros feature the M2 Pro and M2 Max, Apple’s next-generation Pro silicon. (Image credit: Apple)

“Adding the new M2 chips makes these new Macs powerful options and, in laptops, they get longer battery life and additional graphics speed,” Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology advisory firm in San Jose, California, told TechNewsWorld. told. ,

Ubrani said the new chips will advance Apple’s position in the market.

“Apple’s previous generation MacBooks were already ahead of many other laptops on the market because they offered productivity and battery life that very few devices could compete with,” he said.

“The new generation is likely to widen Apple’s lead in this perspective, and it puts pressure on Windows PC makers and silicon makers to step up their game,” he said.

ready for prime time

However, those competitors have upped their game, and this announcement, which seems out of sync with the usual Apple calendar, may be a sign that the company is looking over its shoulder with some concern.

“At CES, we saw a number of announcements by Intel and AMD about laptops claiming they were catching up to Apple,” Rubin said. “With this announcement, Apple is answering those processor introductions at CES.”

“It will be interesting to see how these M2 chips compete against the likes of AMD’s new Ryzen offering, which could offer comparable – or even better – performance in terms of battery life and processing speed in the Windows space. “

M2 Pro Photoshop image processing and Xcode code processing compared to M1 Pro and Intel Core i9 chips

image credit: apple

However, Bajarin insisted that the new chips were too cool to keep under wraps until the end of the year.

“The M2 chips are such an improvement over the M1s that Apple wanted to get them to market as quickly as possible,” he said. “That’s why the launch is earlier in the year than usual. The new M2s were ready for prime time.”

Releasing new products when the PC market is in one of the worst declines in its history might make some computer makers pause, but that’s not the case with Apple.

“Apple positions itself differently from its PC competitors,” said Mikako Kitagawa, director and analyst at Gartner, a research and advisory firm based in Stamford, Conn.

“Despite the challenging environment, the market is determined to be conquered,” he told TechNewsWorld. “That’s the message behind the new product release today.”

While watching the live stream of last week’s formal announcement of the Matter Smart Home initiative, I couldn’t resist recalling Samuel Beckett’s classic existentialist drama, “Waiting for Godot,” where the two characters wait for Godot in a series of discussions and conversations. Participate in encounters, for a proxy god, who never comes.

After all, the Matter initiative was made public by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (formerly Project Connected Home over IP) almost three years ago in December 2019.

Matter is a royalty-free home automation connectivity standard that requires manufacturers to fund certification costs. Despite numerous delays over the past three years, Matter has attracted support from a number of smart home heavyweights, including Amazon, Google, Comcast, Apple, and the Zigbee Alliance.

Matter’s mission is undeniably important to the future development of smart homes as it seeks to reduce the well-known fragmentation across multiple vendors and achieve interoperability between smart home devices and Internet of Things (IoT) platforms from different manufacturers. wants.

In theory, Matter certification would allow consumers and businesses to not worry about smart home devices from Amazon, Apple, or Google (just to list the big hitters) working with each other. At least that’s the promise.

thing draws a veil

Last week in Amsterdam, CSA and Groupe Developing Matter announced that it had formally released version 1.0 and that scores of smart home products — several hundred, in fact — were certified. The implication is that the market should soon see products with the “Matter” logo on shelves, though perhaps after the holidays.

The launch event showcased an impressively wide spectrum of smart home solutions ranging from motion blinds, occupancy sensors, door locks, smart plugs, lighting and gateways. CSA claims that 190 products have either received formal certification or are awaiting testing and certification.

what does all this mean

Refreshingly, Godot may finally appear on the smart home stage. The delay in genuine Matter-certified solutions coming to market hasn’t slowed the pace thanks to industry support and initiatives. If anything, many leaders in the smart home space continue to double down on their support for Matter.

For example, Amazon used the launch event to announce that it would have 17 different Echo devices, plugs, switches and bulbs (albeit with Android support) working with Matter in December. In fact, some smart home devices have already been released or are being updated with Matter recognition.

One of Matter’s promises, beyond the interoperability benefits, is that it should enable entirely new use cases and experiences that weren’t previously thought of. Several major “component” companies, including Infineon Technologies and Silicon Labs, are in the process of integrating Matter support into their chips. This fact should allow device makers to bring new iterations of Matter-compatible devices to market faster.

Matter-Certified Smart Home Appliances

Sample Matter-Certified Smart Home Appliances | Image credit: Connectivity Standards Coalition

In addition, companies such as Schneider Electric that provide smart home energy management systems to consumers and businesses believe that Matter devices will ultimately facilitate lower energy bills through better energy monitoring, control, and optimization. will do.

Finally, Matter Certification has wisely considered the security and privacy requirements in its spec. While ease of use and interoperability underscore the mission of Matter Spec, the security features should allow a more robust security perimeter for bad actors to hack into consumer and business networks via IoT solutions.

Analyst Tech

It’s hard to deny the pace of the industry behind the Matter initiative. Plenty of money, resources and intellectual capital are the undeniable tailwinds that increase Matter’s chances of success. Nevertheless, the technical standards have a notorious history, and the delay of the noted case has raised some solid doubts.

However, despite the in-fighting in the industry that sometimes plagues these standards bodies, Matter has been remarkably drama-free. This initiative has only grown into overall industry support, and that’s a good thing.

But bringing Matter-certified devices to market is only the first challenge the CSA and its consortium members will face. Initial reviews of Miter’s functionality and usability across key devices will take center stage in the coming months, and pundits will be watching.

Does the interoperability work as advertised? Will the baseline functionality of Matter-certified devices be sufficient that the user does not need to use the manufacturer’s native app to enable specific differentiated functions?

Overall, smart home manufacturers differentiate their products. For example, not all smart door locks are the same. From a manufacturer’s perspective, mater can have a commoditization effect, reducing a manufacturer’s ability to market the distinctive features of its offerings.

Finally, there is also the recent appearance of the Home Connectivity Alliance (HCA), yet another standard unit focused on the interoperability of smart appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers.

HCA appears to have a complimentary purpose than Matter, but with members like LG, Samsung, Haier and Residio, don’t rule out the potential for consumer confusion.

Regardless, hope is eternal that after New Year’s Day, the market will finally see the goods and whether the wait was worth it. I certainly hope that, as the smart home space needs it, mainstream users without strong technology skills can take advantage of its potential.

In the meantime, I’ll have some hot chocolate waiting for Godot to arrive.