Apple Unveils M1 Ultra: “World’s Most Powerful Chip for a PC,” 64-Core GPU Supposedly on Par with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090

Image: Apple

It looks like AMD and Intel’s desktop CPU departments can pack it up, or, at least, hang their heads in shame, as Apple claims to have dusted the competition with its latest announcement, the M1 Ultra. Described as “the world’s most powerful chip for a personal computer,” the M1 Ultra is the latest in Apple’s line of powerful in-house SoCs, one that features a mind-boggling count of 144 billion transistors (most ever in a personal computer chip, apparently) and a 20-core CPU, 64-core GPU, and 32-core Neural Engine. Apple’s M1 Ultra can be found in the Mac Studio, an all-new high-performance PC with a sexy, compact enclosure that the company also announced today during its March 2022 keynote event.

A portion of Apple’s press release for the M1 Ultra claims that the chip’s 64-core GPU offers greater performance than the highest-end PC GPU that’s available on today’s market while using 200 fewer watts of power. The footnotes clarify that Apple is referring to NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3090.

Image: Apple

“M1 Ultra is another game-changer for Apple silicon that once again will shock the PC industry. By connecting two M1 Max die with our UltraFusion packaging architecture, we’re able to scale Apple silicon to unprecedented new heights,” said Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Technologies. “With its powerful CPU, massive GPU, incredible Neural Engine, ProRes hardware acceleration, and huge amount of unified memory, M1 Ultra completes the M1 family as the world’s most powerful and capable chip for a personal computer.”

Image: Apple

Apple unveils M1 Ultra, the world’s most powerful chip for a personal computer (Apple)

  • M1 Ultra features an extraordinarily powerful 20-core CPU with 16 high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. It delivers 90 percent higher multi-threaded performance than the fastest available 16-core PC desktop chip in the same power envelope. Additionally, M1 Ultra reaches the PC chip’s peak performance using 100 fewer watts. That astounding efficiency means less energy is consumed and fans run quietly, even as apps like Logic Pro rip through demanding workflows, such as processing massive amounts of virtual instruments, audio plug-ins, and effects.
  • For the most graphics-intensive needs, like 3D rendering and complex image processing, M1 Ultra has a 64-core GPU — 8x the size of M1 — delivering faster performance than even the highest-end PC GPU available while using 200 fewer watts of power.
  • Apple’s unified memory architecture has also scaled up with M1 Ultra. Memory bandwidth is increased to 800GB/s, more than 10x the latest PC desktop chip, and M1 Ultra can be configured with 128GB of unified memory. Compared with the most powerful PC graphics cards that max out at 48GB, nothing comes close to M1 Ultra for graphics memory to support enormous GPU-intensive workloads like working with extreme 3D geometry and rendering massive scenes.
  • The 32-core Neural Engine in M1 Ultra runs up to 22 trillion operations per second, speeding through the most challenging machine learning tasks. And, with double the media engine capabilities of M1 Max, M1 Ultra offers unprecedented ProRes video encode and decode throughput. In fact, the new Mac Studio with M1 Ultra can play back up to 18 streams of 8K ProRes 422 video — a feat no other chip can accomplish.4 M1 Ultra also integrates custom Apple technologies, such as a display engine capable of driving multiple external displays, integrated Thunderbolt 4 controllers, and best-in-class security, including Apple’s latest Secure Enclave, hardware-verified secure boot, and runtime anti-exploitation technologies.

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