Apple’s M1 Ultra Is Power and Performance ‘Game Changer’

Apple says its new M1 Ultra chip will give Nvidia’s RTX 3090 — currently the fastest processor on the market — a run for its money. Introduced last week as the power inside the new Mac Studio desktop, the M1 Ultra has a unique architecture, dubbed UltraFusion, which connects two M1 Max chips for an SoC with 114 billion transistors, the most ever in a personal computer chip, according to the company. “M1 Ultra is another game-changer for Apple silicon that once again will shock the PC industry,” said Apple senior vice president of hardware technologies Johny Srouji.

Thanks to UltraFusion, “we’re able to scale Apple silicon to unprecedented new heights,” Srouji continued in the company announcement. The result is a “chip that has double the CPU cores, double the memory, double the memory bandwidth, and most importantly, double the GPU cores,” writes The Verge.

Apple says the M1 Ultra can best a single RTX 3090 while using 200 fewer watts. At CES 2022, Nvidia teased its RTX 3090 Ti, which aims to leave the 3090 in the dust. PC Gamer says the RTX 3090 Ti will be released March 29, adding that it looks to be “among the most power hungry and expensive GPUs ever. Whatever the case, It will be fast!”

M1 Ultra can be configured with up to 128GB of high-bandwidth unified memory that can be accessed at 800GBps by the 20-core CPU, 64-core GPU, and 32-core Neural Engine — ideal for “artists working in huge 3D environments that were previously impossible to render, and video professionals who can transcode video to ProRes,” Apple says.

With the M1 Ultra and Mac Studio, “Apple is focused squarely on productivity applications,” The Verge reports, noting “the M1 Ultra isn’t going to magically solve the lack of macOS games.”

But Apple silicon is nonetheless advancing in leaps and bounds. “It has taken Qualcomm and Microsoft years to deliver laptop-like performance on ARM-based chips for Windows, and Apple is already delivering workstation-level performance [with the M1 Ultra].” Tom’s Hardware reports that a recent M1 Ultra benchmark showcased “a jaw-dropping multi-core result” that put it on par with AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper 3990X workstation chip.

“Where things will get really interesting with Apple’s chip design is the Mac Pro,” The Verge predicts. Apple ended its recent Peek Performance event with a nod to its prospective Apple silicon-powered Mac Pro. “Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman revealed last year that the Mac Pro will ship with up to 40 CPU cores and 128 GPU cores,” writes The Verge. “If you’re keeping count, that’s double the M1 Ultra.”

Related:
Apple’s Chips Are on the Table, The Verge, 3/12/22