All You Need to Know About Apple’s Next Superchip, the Apple M3 Ultra

Apple, everything, know, M3 Ultra, next superchip

Apple WWDC 2024 is just a couple of months away, and anticipation is building for the announcement of Apple’s latest system-on-a-chip (SoC), the Apple M3 Ultra. This powerful chip is expected to be used in high-end Mac Studio and Mac Pro workstations. In October 2023, Apple surprised everyone with its Scary Fast event, where it unveiled not only the Apple M3 chip but also the Apple M3 Pro and Apple M3 Max. These chips were integrated into the new iMac 24-inch (M3), MacBook Pro 14-inch, MacBook Pro 16-inch, MacBook Air 13-inch, and MacBook Air 15-inch models. The remaining Mac products, the Mac Studio and Mac Pro, are still equipped with the Apple M2 Max and Apple M2 Ultra chips. With the upcoming WWDC event focusing on the industry and developers, it is possible that these two products may receive a specification refresh with the new Apple M3 Ultra.

The Apple M3 Ultra is Apple’s next workstation-class SoC. It is not sold individually, but the speculated price of a Mac Studio with the M3 Ultra is around $4,000/£4,000/AU$6,000 for the base configuration, with higher-level configurations costing even more. Although there is no official release date, if Apple announces the M3 Ultra at WWDC, pre-orders for the Mac Studio and Mac Pro with the M3 Ultra could start on June 7, 2024, with delivery expected later in the month.

Regarding the specifications and performance of the Apple M3 Ultra, there is no official information from Apple. However, based on the previous M3 Max chip, which is typically two M3 Max chips connected with high-speed interconnects, we can make some speculations. The M3 Max chip has a transistor count of 92 billion, 16 CPU cores (12 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores), and up to 40 GPU cores. It has a maximum memory capacity of 128GB, a clock rate of up to 4,056MHz, and a power consumption of 78W (TDP). With the M3 Ultra being two M3 Max chips combined, we can estimate the M3 Ultra to have double the specifications of the M3 Max. This would result in a transistor count of 184 billion, 32 CPU cores (24 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores), up to 80 GPU cores, a maximum memory capacity of 256GB, a clock rate of up to 4,056MHz, and a power consumption of 156W (TDP). These specifications indicate that the M3 Ultra will be one of the most powerful workstation chips on the market.

Comparing the M3 Ultra to other workstation chips on the market, such as the AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 7995WX, is not straightforward due to differences in software ecosystems. The availability of specific applications for the Apple ecosystem or Windows/Linux may vary, limiting the options for switching between chips. Despite this limitation, we can anticipate a significant performance boost with the M3 Ultra, similar to the jump from the M1 Max to the M1 Ultra, which doubled the performance. As the M3 Max is nearly twice as powerful as the M1 Max (up to 80% faster according to Apple), we can expect the M3 Ultra to deliver a similar performance improvement.

The Apple M3 Ultra will undoubtedly offer impressive performance, but it may come at a high price. It is important to consider whether the level of performance provided by this chip is necessary for your specific needs. The Mac Pro, aimed at professionals with substantial financial backing, may justify the purchase of the M3 Ultra. However, for prosumers, a Mac Studio with the M2 Ultra chip might be a more cost-effective option, as it is still a powerful workstation and is likely to become more affordable over time. Ultimately, we will have to wait for an official announcement from Apple to learn more about the M3 Ultra.

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