Apple has just unveiled the most potent addition to its silicon range – the M2 Ultra. This supercharged chip forms the powerhouse for the revamped MacStudio and Mac Pro desktops. Building on Apple's momentum from transitioning to its proprietary CPUs, the M2 Ultra signals a breakthrough in performance and technology.
At the core of the M2 Ultra is the ingenuity of coupling two M2 Max chips, christened as the "UltraFusion", which provides a 2.5TB/s low-latency interprocessor connection. This potent combination harks back to the creation of the M1 Ultra, where two M1 Max chips were melded together.
The M2 Ultra marks a substantial leap from its sibling, the M2 Max, embedded within the MacBook Pro. The CPU cores have doubled from 12 to a whopping 24. Similarly, the GPU cores have soared, offering up to 76 on the high-end model. Accompanying these upgrades, RAM support also leaps from 96GB to an astounding 192GB, complete with 800GB/s bandwidth. While most users may not require this vast pool of memory, it's comforting to know the option exists. Especially when you recall that the M1's initial offering was capped at a mere 16GB of unified memory.
The chip's media capabilities are also highly impressive, boasting the ability to run 22 simultaneous 8K ProRes footage streams. This power is set to transform video-editing projects, with the Mac Pro equivalent to the muscle of seven Afterburner cards that the Intel-based Mac Pro used for video acceleration.
Another distinguishing aspect of the M2 Ultra is its expansive connectivity. Featuring WiFi 6e, Bluetooth 5.3, and 10Gb Ethernet built-in (dual 10Gb Ethernet on the Mac Pro), it also includes up to eight Thunderbolt 4 ports on the Mac Pro and six PCIe gen 4 slots. Such PCI expansion is vital for any professional desktop, offering users the flexibility to add high-end audio cards or 3D accelerators for complex model rendering.
The debut of the M2 Ultra, coupled with the revamped Mac Pro, marks the final stage in Apple's journey away from Intel chips, entirely embracing its silicon. It's an ambitious move, signifying Apple's confidence in its homegrown technology. However, its impact on the high-end market remains to be seen.