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(Pocket-lint) - It's not uncommon for processors to be annually updated, so one should expect Apple's own custom Mac processor, the M1, to be replaced by a follow-up chip. In fact, a new report from Nikkei Asia has claimed a next-generation processor just entered mass production this month.

Currently dubbed the M2, the new chip will likely take at least three months to produce and could begin shipping as early as July 2021. It will probably be included in Apple's next round of updates to the MacBook line. Rumours point to 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with all-new designs arriving as early as Q2 2021. That's in addition to a redesigned 27-inch iMac later this year and a smaller version of the Mac Pro likely coming in 2022.

Apple said last year that it would take about two years for the company to fully ditch Intel chipsets for Apple Silicon such as the M1. 

Keep in mind Apple's custom ‌M1‌ silicon debuted late last year inside a refresh to the Mac mini, MacBook Air, and 13-inch MacBook Pro. More recently, Apple introduced redesigned 24-inch iMacs and a new iPad Pro line - all running the same 5nm-based ‌M1‌ processor, which Apple uses TSMC to produce.

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The M1 packs an 8-core CPU, up to an 8-core GPU, a 16-core Neural Engine, unified memory architecture, and more, which means it can deliver incredible power efficiency and raw power. Nikkei said that the M2 is expected to continue integrating a CPU, GPU, and the Neural Engine on the same chip. 

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 28 April 2021.