Apple Completes Transition to All In-house Silicon With M2 Ultra SoC
Beneath the hood of Apple's "most powerful Mac desktops ever made" is the final iteration of the company's M2 SoC family.
Check out our WWDC23 coverge from earlier this week.
While much of the buzz about Apple's WWDC23 has centered around its first spatial computer, Apple Vision Pro, the company also took to the stage to announce a significant advance to its in-house silicon portfolio. Specifically, the company launched the final iteration of its M2 family, the M2 Ultra SoC.
M2 Ultra is Apple's largest SoC yet. Image courtesy of Apple
Apple calls this new chip "the largest and most capable chip Apple has ever created," debuting in the new Mac Studio and Mac Pro. Apple touts these two new Mac desktops as the most powerful the company has ever made—in large part because of the M2 Ultra.
Apple’s M1 family includes four offerings: The M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra. Among these, M1 Ultra was the largest and most powerful of the offerings, consisting of two M1 Max dies fused together through a proprietary interconnect. The M2 family followed this rollout trajectory, previously launching the M2, M2 Pro, and M2 Max. Apple has now completed the M2 family with the launch of the M2 Ultra.
Like the M1 Ultra, the M2 Ultra is an extremely large SoC that consists of two M2 Max dies connected together through Apple’s proprietary packaging technology called UltraFusion. UltraFusion includes of a silicon interposer that connects over 10,000 signals and provides a bandwidth of 2.5 TB/s.
M2 Ultra. Image courtesy of Apple
While combining two M2 Maxes together allows the chips to be interpreted as one single SoC, this architecture creates a behemoth of a device. Built on a 5nm process, the M2 Ultra consists of a total of 134 billion transistors and sports a 24-core CPU comprised of 16 high-performance cores and eight high-efficiency cores, which is up to 20% faster than the M1 Ultra. The GPU can be configured from 60 cores to 76 cores—12 more cores than M1 Ultra—and boosts performance by 30%. Additionally, the M2 Ultra consists of a 32-core neural engine for ML compute, which is capable of 31.6 TOPS: 40% greater than M1 Ultra.
Finally, M2 Ultra features an 800 GB/s system memory bandwidth and can be configured with 192 GB of unified memory.
Mac Studio and Mac Pro
Building off the M2 Ultra, Apple also unveiled the first machines that will be powered by the chip: the Mac Studio and Mac Pro.
Mac Studio and Mac Pro. Image courtesy of Apple
The new Mac Studio desktop is powered by two M2 Max chips along with one M2 Ultra chip to give the computer a massive performance boost. The Mac Studio is said to be six times faster than Intel-powered iMacs and three times faster than the last generation’s M1 Ultra-powered Mac Studio.
Mac Pro is also powered by the M2 Ultra but augments this functionality with the inclusion of PCIe expansion. Where the Intel-based Mac Pro started at an 8-core offering, the new M2 Ultra-powered solution has a 24-core CPU, up to 76-core GPU, and double the memory and SSD storage. According to Apple, the Mac Pro represents the completion of Apple’s transition to Apple silicon and is among the most powerful and capable lineup of products ever offered.
With All In-house Silicon, Apple Stakes Its Claim in Computing
Ever since switching from Intel processors, Apple has forged its own formidable place in the computing industry. Apple silicon has grown from a single chip (the M1) to two families of highly-performant and massive processors. Now with the M2 Ultra, the new Mac Studio, and the Mac Pro, Apple has fully completed its transition to Apple silicon and is claiming the best computers in the company’s history.