Forward-looking: Apple on Monday introduced its second-generation M2 SoC but behind closed doors, the company is already planning its next act (and probably the following one, too). According to a new research report from analyst Jeff Pu with Haitong International, Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will begin mass production on a more powerful Pro variant of the M2 later this year.

The enhanced version of the chip will reportedly be built using a 3nm process node, allowing Apple to squeeze in even more transistors. The newly announced standard M2 is built on a 5nm process, just like the first-gen M1.

Apple said the new M2 is up to 18 percent faster than its predecessor in CPU-intensive tasks. The GPU is said to be 35 percent more powerful, the Neural Engine is now 40 percent faster and there's 50 more memory bandwidth in play compared to the M1.

Rumors surfaced earlier this year that Apple was testing as many as nine different M2-based Macs including an M2-based Mac mini and a more powerful M2 Pro version. Sources told 9to5Mac that Apple had planned to launch Mac minis with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips but likely scrapped the idea to make way for the Mac Studio that landed in March.

The first Macs to feature Apple's new M2 are the redesigned MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Both are expected to ship sometime in July.

Image credit: Charles Patterson