Apple reportedly plans M4 Mac mini for late 2024 or early 2025, skipping the M3

The M2 Pro Mac mini.
Enlarge / The M2 Pro Mac mini.

Andrew Cunningham

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman thinks Apple’s M4 chips for Macs will arrive sooner rather than later, perhaps as early as “the end of this year,” according to a report from earlier this month. Gurman now claims that Apple could skip the M3 generation altogether for some Macs, including the Mac mini.

To be clear, Gurman does not have specific insider information confirming that Apple is planning to skip the M3 mini. But based on Apple’s presumed late 2024-early 2025 timeline for the M4 mini, he believes it’s “probably safe to say” that there isn’t enough space on the timeline for that to happen. an M3 mini sort by then.

This wouldn’t be the first time that an Apple Silicon Mac skipped a chip generation: the 24-inch iMac was never updated with the M2, going directly from the M1 to the M3. The Mac Pro also skipped the M1 series, switching from Intel chips to the M2.

But if the M4 comes out by the end of 2024, the turnaround would be much faster than what we’ve seen so far for other Apple Silicon chips. About a year and a half passed between the introduction of the first M1 Macs in late 2020 and the first M2 Macs in summer 2022; approximately the same amount of time passed between mid-2022 and the late 2023 introduction of the first M3 Macs. If Apple sticks to a more typical 18-month gap between the first M3 Macs and the first M4 Macs, there’s still plenty of time for an M3-based Mac mini refresh to be released.

Apple last updated the Mac mini in January 2022, replacing the M1 model with an M2 version and introducing a new variant with an M2 Pro chip that included more Thunderbolt ports, better support for external displays and better CPU and GPU performance. Most of Apple’s desktop computers (the Mac mini, as well as the Mac Studio and Mac Pro) still use Apple’s M2 chips, while all laptops and the iMac have received an M3 refresh at this stage.

Gurman’s previous report on the M4 suggests it will be an “AI-focused” series of chips, which likely means it will boost the neural engine of processors to power generative AI features on the device that are expected to come with iOS 18. and other major updates to Apple’s operating system this year. Apple already has a head start on the PC ecosystem in this regard: every M-series and A-series chip since 2017’s A11 Bionic includes some version of the Neural Engine. Intel and AMD processors only started including similar neural processing units (NPUs) in the last year.

Gurman did not report on the specifications of the M4 series, but he said it will include at least three performance levels: a base model named “Donan”, a mid-range version named “Brava” and a high-end model named “Hidra”. “. It remains to be seen which of these chips would replace the Pro, Max, and Ultra processors in the current generation M2 and M3 Macs.

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