The next generation of Apple Silicon chips has arrived with the announcement of the company’s new M1 Ultra SoC (system on a chip), the latest entry to Apple’s M1 chipset lineup that’s even more powerful than the M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max chips it’s released so far.
The key to the M1 Ultra is Apple’s UltraFusion architecture — effectively, Apple is fusing together two separate M1 Max chips into a single, massive SoC, thanks to the 2.5TB/s inter-processor connection that the M1 Max offers. That design lets Apple double virtually all the specs from its M1 Max chip on the M1 Ultra: 20 CPU cores (16 performance and four efficiency), 64 GPU cores, a 32-core Neural Engine for AI processing, and up to 128GB of RAM. All told, Apple says that the M1 Ultra offers eight times the performance of the regular M1.
Apple is making some big performance claims for its new, massive chip, too: Apple says that it offers better CPU performance than a “16-core PC desktop” while using 100W less power, along with comparable GPU performance than the “highest-end discrete GPU” while using 200W less power. (Apple isn’t saying which competitors it’s testing against, and we’ll obviously have to verify these claims ourselves once we can test the M1 Ultra.)
The M1 Ultra will make its first debut in a new Mac Studio desktop that Apple announced alongside the new chip at its event (it looks a lot like a giant stack of Mac Mini desktops). For reference, the original M1 chip launched in a MacBook Air, entry-level MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini but also eventually made its way to Apple’s colorful iMac relaunch and the 2020 iPad Pro tablet, too, so it’s possible that we’ll see the M1 Ultra show up of other Apple desktop computers (like an even more powerful new Apple Silicon-powered Mac Pro) in the coming months.