While Apple didn't announce the M2 chip as some had predicted, it did announce a new, top-tier CPU to their existing line-up: the M1 Ultra.
John Ternus, Apple's SVP of hardware engineering described the M1 Ultra as a "monster of a chip" aimed at users who need "extreme levels of performance".
Apple used what it is describing as UltraFusion to build the M1 Ultra's architecture, connecting dual chips across more than 10,000 signals for 2.5TB/s memory bandwidth. This was done to provide the performance of a dual-CPU Intel or AMD build with much less power consumption.
To put it in perspective: the M1 Ultra's architecture and performance are on par with the new Intel Core i9-12900E and AMD's Ryzen Threadripper PRO 5965WX processors. And you don't have to worry about the rest of your desktop's components being able to keep up because Apple's integrated component design scheme is meant for optimal performance across all components.
The M1 Ultra features 114billion transistors, 20 cores (16 regular and 4 high-efficiency), a 64-core GPU, and 128GB of unified memory. Apple boasts that the M1 Ultra is 8 times faster than the base M1 chip, with double the media processing power and the ability to perform up to 22 trillion processes per second. The 32-core Neural Engine provides the chip with deep, machine-learning capabilities for intense processes like compiling code, processing 4K or 8K video or rendering 3D animation files.
When compared to a 16-core PC CPU from Intel or AMD, the M1 Ultra's 20-core design provides 90% higher multi-threaded performance and reaches peak performance at 100 fewer watts. This should mean you can get complicated tasks done faster and with less energy used by your computer, which is great for keeping component operating temperatures well within the optimal range. The 64-core, integrated GPU could be handy for creative professionals like 3D modelers, animators, and game developers looking for power and performance that doesn't take a ton of energy or create a lot of waste heat.
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The unified memory architecture of the M1 Ultra has increased the memory bandwidth to 800GB/s, and you can configure the new CPU with up to 128GB of unified memory for ripping through process-intensive workloads like video or audio encoding. The chip also has the ability to run up to 18 simultaneous 8K video streams, which is more than enough for even the most demanding of video editing applications. It also features Apple's Secure Enclave technology for AES data encryption, anti-exploitation programming to prevent unauthorized remote access to your computer, and a hardware-verified secure boot. The M1 Ultra will be the backbone of the new Mac Studio modular desktop aimed at providing creative professionals with a computer that can keep up with their artistic vision.