M2 and beyond: What to expect from the M2 Pro, M2 Max, and M2 Ultra

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in Future Apple Hardware
With the launch of M2 at WWDC, thoughts turn to what the rest of the next chip generation will look like. Based on the M1 lineup's progression, here's what M2's future chip releases could offer users.

M2 logo


Apple's launch of the M2 for its updated MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro offer users a lot over the M1 versions. Just for the system-on-chip alone, there's higher computing performance, better graphical capabilities, more memory bandwidth, and even borrowing the Media Engine from the upper-tier M1 chips.

As a new generation of chips starts, the attention naturally shifts toward what's to come. With M1, we saw even more performance gains with the introduction of the M1 Pro and M1 Max and then the stratospheric M1 Ultra.

Apple inevitably has chips on the horizon that will be part of the M2 range. Apple won't reveal what it has planned, but we can take a guess by looking at what's already been released.

The past is key

Like many other companies as well as people, Apple has habits. It likes reusing names and concepts, in part because it makes marketing products to customers easier.

Since customers may already know different types of hardware in a previous generation, keeping the same general concept for a new generation makes sense. Especially so when the differences aren't seismic.

This gives Apple an excellent reason to stick to tried and true ideas without making what may be perceived as too much of a change.

The varying sizes of M1 chips.
The varying sizes of M1 chips.


That leads us to the first problem of determining the types of chips Apple could bring out in the future. If we're employing Occam's Razor, the next ones will probably be the M2 Pro, the M2 Max, and eventually the M2 Ultra.

We saw well-defined jumps in the specification for each M1 chip and an overall doubling of everything by the M1 Ultra, so it would be reasonable to expect this pattern to continue for the M2 range.

As for what those Pro, Max, and Ultra chips could offer, we'll be using the improvements of the M2 over the M1 and then extrapolate within reason.

M1 to M2

At face value, the M1 and M2 aren't that different. On paper, many elements aren't quite as much of a change as you'd observe going from the M1 to M1 Pro, for example, but they do exist.

Both the M1 and M2 use eight CPU cores, consisting of four high-performance and four efficiency cores. Made using a 5-nanometer process, Apple says the M2 does benefit from having a chip that's 18% faster for relative power consumption levels.

Then there's the GPU, which is 35% more powerful according to Apple. This is probably down to Apple using 7-core and 8-core GPUs in the M1 and 8-core and 10-core GPU options in the M2, along with other technical improvements to graphics.

The Neural Engine isn't massively different when you consider it still uses 16 cores, but Apple says it's 40% faster in the M2 than the M1 and can handle up to 15.8 trillion operations per second.

M1 Range Specifications

SpecificationsM1 (2020) M1 Pro (2021) M1 Max (2021) M1 Ultra (2022)
CPU Cores (Total) 8 8 or 10 10 20
CPU Performance Cores 4 6 or 8 8 16
CPU Efficiency Cores 4 2 2 4
GPU Cores 7 or 8 14 or 16 24 or 32 48 or 64
Neural Engine Cores 16 16 16 32
Transistors (B)
16 33.7 57 114
Foundry process 5nm 5nm 5nm 5nm
Unified Memory Capacities 8GB,
16GB
16GB,
32GB
32GB,
64GB
64GB,
128GB
Memory Bandwidth 68.25GB/s 200GB/s 400GB/s 800GB/s
Media Engine - Video decode engine,
Video encode engine,
ProRes encode and decode engine
Video decode engine,
2 Video encode engines,
2 ProRes encode and decode engines
2 Video decode engine,
4 Video encode engines,
4 ProRes encode and decode engines
At this point, things do change a lot for the M2, starting with its use of 20 billion transistors compared to the 16 billion in the M1. This isn't quite as much as the 33.7 billion in the M1 Pro, but it's still a hefty increase.

Unified Memory is also boosted, as while both offer 8GB and 16GB capacities, you have a 24GB option in the M2. Again, not quite at the 32GB heights for the M1 Pro, but still a step in the right direction.

Again, the memory bandwidth is greater in the M2 at 100GB/s compared to 68.25GB/s in the M1. Once more, it's not quite at the 200GB/s of the M1 Pro, but faster is better.

Then we move to the addition of a Media Engine, which the M2 gains but the M1 doesn't have. This is pretty much the same system used in the M1 Pro, complete with video decode and encode engines and ProRes encode and decode engines.

Muddying the water here is Apple's claim that the video decoder in the M2 is higher-bandwidth with capabilities of handling 8K H.264 and HEVC video.

Lastly, there are enhancements to the Secure Enclave and a new image signal processor for better noise reduction.

Extrapolations

Since we know how much of a difference there is between the M1 and M2, we can use them as a rough guide for other increases in those numbers. A simple mathematical increase would work as a base, but some will have to be massaged to be more rounded or acceptable figures.

We need to adjust the figures for a few reasons. For a start, a direct mathematical increase isn't necessarily a neat number, so rounding down or up to the nearest level is fine to do.

Then there are increases that seem to be a little too high to be believable. If a resulting figure seems unfeasible, it should be rounded down to something more expected and feels more "correct," which Apple would go for.

M2 Extrapolations

SpecificationsM2 (2022)M2 Pro* M2 Max* M2 Ultra*
CPU Cores (Total) 8
8 or 10
10
20
CPU Performance Cores 4 6 or 8 8 16
CPU Efficiency Cores 4 2 2 4
GPU Cores 8 or 10 16 or 24 32 or 48 64 or 96
Neural Engine Cores
16 16 16 32
Transistors (B)
20 42.1 71.3 142.5
Foundry process 5nm 5nm 5nm 5nm
Unified Memory Capacities 8GB,
16GB,
24GB
16GB,
32GB,
48GB
32GB,
64GB,
96GB
64GB,
128GB,
192GB
Memory Bandwidth 100GB/s 300GB/s 600GB/s 2,000GB/s
Media Engine
Video decode engine,
video encode engine,
ProRes encode and decode engine
Video decode engine,
2 Video encode engines,
2 ProRes encode and decode engines
Video decode engine,
4 Video encode engines,
4 ProRes encode and decode engines
2 Video decode engine,
8 Video encode engines,
8 ProRes encode and decode engines

CPU Cores

The first estimate would be for core counts. Since Apple kept to the same core configuration as the M1 for the M2, but with optimizations and other changes, its plausible that Apple would go for something similar for the M2 Pro, Max, and Ultra.

The M2 Pro would have the same 8 or 10 core count as the M1 Pro, complete with two efficiency cores and the remainder being performance cores. The M2 Max may also stick with ten cores, split 8 to 2 for performance and efficiency.

Since the M1 Ultra is a pair of M1 Max chips connected together, it's reasonable to assume something similar could happen for the M2 Ultra.

If it wants to, Apple could certainly go for a higher core count on the M2 Max, and therefore M2 Ultra, but it probably won't be that much of a rise.

GPU Cores

Since Apple shifted from 7 or 8 cores in the M1 to 8 or 10 cores in the M2, you could probably guess that similar upgrades could be made for future chips. Since the M1 to M2 increase seems to be more centered around smaller stepped core count improvements, applying the same logic here is not unreasonable.

From 14 or 16 cores in the M1 Pro, the M2 may go for 16 or 24 core options. The M2 Max may translate 24-core and 32-core iterations into 32-core and 48-core versions.

As the doubling chip, the M2 Ultra could have 64 or 96 cores.

Neural Engine

Of all the parts, the Neural Engine is probably the easiest to make sense of, due to how it was handled in the M2. It has the same core count as the M1, but it's working 40% faster.

Apple didn't change Neural Engine cores across the range of M1 chips, except for 32 on the M1 Ultra. Probably, the Neural Engine won't see any core changes again for M2, as that performance boost is undoubtedly going to be more than enough for what Apple wants for ML.

Transistors

An analog for how big the chip is, the general idea is that the more transistors are used, the more potential performance the chip can offer, and the larger the physical chip size.

Here, we can go down the mathematical route with no adjustments, as beyond the M1, transistor counts aren't neat at all.

Apple's M1 chip is smaller in size than the M2.
Apple's M1 chip is smaller in size than the M2.


The M1 uses 16 billion transistors, rising to 20 billion in the M2. This equates to a 25% increase, which we can apply directly to each other transistor count.

The 33.7 billion transistors in the M1 Pro could rise to 42.1 billion in the M2 Pro. Likewise, the 57 billion for the M1 Max could translate to 71.25 billion in the M2 Max. Lastly, the 114 billion transistors in the M1 Ultra may become 142.5 billion in the M2 Ultra.

They may not necessarily be spot on, but if the M2 lineup follows the M1, you're going to see proportionately comparable chip sizes at least.

Unified Memory Capacity

In the M1, Apple included 8GB and 16GB Unified Memory options. For the M2, Apple added a third option to the mix, but instead of doubling to 32GB, it went for 24GB.

It works out that 24GB is midway between 16GB and 32GB and can be formed by two more typical memory values: 8GB and 16GB.

Beyond M2, Apple could easily retain the same memory capacities as its M1 counterparts, but with that additional third value.

From 16GB and 32GB in the M1 Pro, Apple may add a 48GB option. Likewise, the M2 Max could use 32GB and 64GB but add a 96GB option. The 64GB and 128GB memory of the M1 Ultra may see the addition of 192GB in the M2 Ultra.

The M2 SoC.
The M2 SoC.


It is entirely plausible that Apple could go with the standard doubling for the models, making the extra options 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB, respectively, but the cost will be a factor.

Going for high amounts of memory is costly with Apple hardware, with the potential cost of massive memory options in the M2 Ultra reaching nosebleed territory.

At that sort of level, people planning to use such significant amounts of memory may gravitate towards whatever Apple dreams up for its next Mac Pro, which may have something completely different as its SoC.

Memory Bandwidth

The second-messiest category behind transistors for mathematics is memory bandwidth, a big defining element of the performance of a Mac. At the same time, it's also one of the more logical elements that doesn't require too much number massaging.

The 100GB/s of the M2 is a 46% improvement on the 68.25GB/s of the M1. Taking 46% as the improvement further along, that makes the 200GB/s M1 Pro turn into 292GB/s for the M2 Pro, nigh on 300GB/s.

Likewise, 400GB/s of the M1 Max can translate into 584GB/s in the M2 Max, or practically 600GB/s. The 800GB/s of the M1 Ultra turns into 1,168GB/s in the M2 Ultra, but that could be considered close to 1,200GB/s.

Media Engines

When Apple introduced the idea of a Media Engine for video encoding in the M1 Pro and M1 Max, it brought out a feature that was completely absent on the M1. For the M2, Apple has already included the same sort of Media Engine as you would find in the M1 Pro, except with higher performance.

As for where Apple could go beyond this, it could do so in the same way it did for the M1 Max by adding more. The M1 Max has two video encode engines and double the ProRes encode and decode engines of the M1 Pro.

Since M2 already has the M1 Pro's Media Engine, it could feasibly do its doubling of the ProRes encode and decode engines to two apiece for the M2 Pro. The doubling could happen again for the M2 Max, making it four video encode engines and four each of the ProRes encode and decode engines.

If we are following the similar doubling-M2-Max rule for the M2 Ultra, then it'll be two video decode engines and eight each of the video encode, ProRes encode, and ProRes decode engines.

This may be a little extreme, but it's quite probable that someone will justify having so many encode and decode engines in a Mac.

Performance

Aside from the specifications of the chips, we can try to work out how fast each could be. Again, we do have a reference point to work with for the M2, as an early Geekbench benchmark recorded by CPU-Monkey has surfaced, claiming the M2 managed 1,869 for the single-core test and 8,900 for the multi-core.

We also know that the M1 in a 13-inch MacBook Pro manages 1,707 in the single-core and 7,395 for the multi-core. This works out to be percentage improvements in the M2 of roughly 10% and 20%, respectively.

Geekbench results and estimates for single-core tests
Geekbench results and estimates for single-core tests


If we followed the same logic, the ten-core M1 Pro in the 14-inch MacBook Pro could go from 1,738 and 12,009 in single and multi-core tests to around 1,911 and 14,410 apiece.

Likewise, the ten-core M1 Max's 1,747 single-core and 12,165 multi-core results can turn into 1,921 and 14,598. Lastly, the M1 Ultra in a Mac Studio's 1,754 single-core score could go to 1,929, and the 23,357 multi-core test could hit 28,028.

Geekbench results and estimates for multi-core tests
Geekbench results and estimates for multi-core tests


While we can take a stab at guessing the CPU benchmarks since we assume the cores will be the same types, with improvements, the same cannot be said about GPU performance. The high number of cores can result in more variance than the more readily acceptable CPU versions.

This all said, Geekbench isn't a perfect benchmark. Its calculational benchmark is a more "bursty" one for everyday use, and doesn't model loads drawn for an extended period of time. Apple's implementation of the M1 Max and M1 Ultra processors excel at those because of low-power demands and therefore lower heat loads.

And the Mac Studio exchanges heat even better than the MacBook Pro does.

It's All Napkin Math

Do bear in mind that this is all extrapolation and modest estimates based on the data we have on hand. It is not a full-blown prediction of what Apple will release but a best guess of what it could bring out.

Apple could easily make significant changes to its chip lineup, including the names, the number of chips, and making more considerable alterations to specifications with target users in mind. Extrapolations are our own -- but they make sense given what we saw with the M1 evolution over a year and a half.

The launch of M2 through today shows Apple learned quickly about how to improve Apple Silicon and acted to improve upon an already favorable position. Even in our conservative estimates, Apple stands to provide even bigger improvements to the rest of the lineup.

Whatever Apple decides to bring out in the future, M2's stablemates will offer potential users masses of performance. Even if our extrapolations are different from the eventual reality, it should still be a massive win for Mac users who make the jump.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    bwallsbwalls Posts: 11unconfirmed, member
    Thoughts on when the other M2 variants may drop?

    Is it conceivable the Pro will have an M2 Ultra-Squared, with basically 4 M2 Maxes? That would require an M2 design with two high-speed edge busses instead of one. Is that doable technically?
  • Reply 2 of 29
    mobirdmobird Posts: 703member
    How does the M2 compare to the latest desktop chips from Intel?
  • Reply 3 of 29
    CheeseFreezeCheeseFreeze Posts: 1,022member
    With all these impressive stats, I wonder if a Mac Pro is still in demand?

    Perhaps a Studio with a trap door for SSD storage will be just fine, and for the ultra speed junkies four M2-Max soldered together? 

    I mean, they are quickly making the need for internal upgrading unnecessary.
    Beats
  • Reply 4 of 29
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,487administrator
    mobird said:
    How does the M2 compare to the latest desktop chips from Intel?
    We don't really know yet, and Apple's weird graphs that they like so much aren't that helpful.

    We'll be talking more about it when the hardware releases.
    mobirdAlex1Nh4y3s
  • Reply 5 of 29
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,845member
    I'm glad to see that the article author pointed out Geekbench's severe flaws as a testing tool, particularly its uselessness for quantifying performance for sustained workloads.

    And again we see how current benchmarking tools don't adeptly handle newer silicon functionality like machine learning which is increasingly a big part of the Apple device experience.
    neo-techAlex1Nh4y3sBeats
  • Reply 6 of 29
    aderutteraderutter Posts: 534member
    M1 launched over 18 months ago, and the M1 Pro and Max a year later. 

    So I would expect M2 Pro & Max to launch WWDC 2023.
    Just educated guess work of course as the past is not always a good predictor of the future…

    M1 Max is still way more powerful than M2 and I think the M2 MBP is a bit odd - why wouldn’t you buy the MBA or 14” MBP instead?

    We might get a Mac Pro with an M2 Ultra in the fall? 

  • Reply 7 of 29
    Nice article! I like the extrapolations- seemingly logical in every way.

    Like others, I'm quite curious to see what happens for the rumored Mac Pro. Is that a QUAD (MAX)? If so, how does it fit together? Or is it some kind of x-serve-like networked ULTRAS that work together but are not directly connected: baseline has 2 ULTRAS, top of the line has 8 or 10 or more?

    Also, the rollout of M1 makes it easy to jump to a time extrapolation too: first comes M2, then M2 PRO & MAX in the Fall (yes I'm shaving a year), then M2 ULTRA next spring because that was the order of M1. However, if we do that, where does Mac Pro "jump in"? Does Mac Pro with M1 QUAD come soon? If not pretty soon, you have to assume it is going to get M2 which would seem to flip the natural time extrapolation on its ear. For example, if an M2 QUAD hits for Mac Pro, why isn't PRO, MAX and ULTRA already available- or available at the same time- too? It already seems a little messy to perhaps roll out M2, then M2 QUAD (for Mac Pro), THEN PRO & MAX and finally ULTRA. 

    That makes me wonder does Mac Pro get some other chip branding especially/exclusively for Mac Pro? I'm not thinking it is going to wait through M2 PRO, M2 MAX and M2 ULTRA before it releases. So that would imply that M1 doesn't set the timing example for the rest of them... making me think that perhaps PRO to QUAD all hits in the Fall together unless maybe M1 QUAD Mac Pro rolls out pretty soon... or Mac Pro with X100 or some completely-different painted name on a chip hits instead.

    I look forward to seeing whatever- and whenever- it is. 
    edited June 7 Alex1Nmuthuk_vanalingamradarthekat
  • Reply 8 of 29
    I believe there is a strong possibility that there will be no M2 pro, M2 max, or M2 ultra. It is rumored that TSMC will have 3NM chips in production in the second half of 2022. These will likely find their way into the iPhone 14 pro as the A16. This will likely be the chip generation (M3?) Apple uses for a new MacBook pro and max, the MacStudio max and ultra, and the MacPro. We will likely see the M2 used in an iMac refresh, and a Mac mini refresh, but that’s it.
    h4y3sblastdoor12Strangers
  • Reply 9 of 29
    PascalxxPascalxx Posts: 53member
    I believe there is a strong possibility that there will be no M2 pro, M2 max, or M2 ultra. It is rumored that TSMC will have 3NM chips in production in the second half of 2022. These will likely find their way into the iPhone 14 pro as the A16. This will likely be the chip generation (M3?) Apple uses for a new MacBook pro and max, the MacStudio max and ultra, and the MacPro. We will likely see the M2 used in an iMac refresh, and a Mac mini refresh, but that’s it.
    I agree that there may be no M2 Pro/Max/Ultra based on the A15 cores, but Apple may still stick to the M2 Pro/Max/Ultra naming while actually using the newer A16 cores. Most users won’t care whether the underlying architecture of M2 and M2 Pro is the same, as long as the M2 Pro is the faster one. It would also allow Apple to differentiate the Pro chips further because of the higher efficiency and performance gains of the 3nm process.

    We could see something like this going forward (purely based on speculation and on the assumption that there will be a new A-series chip each year):
    2022 fall: A16
    2023 spring: M2 Pro/Max based on A16
    2023 fall: A17
    2024 spring: M3 based on A17
    2025 fall: A18
    2026 spring: M3 Pro/Max based on A18

    New A-series every year, new base M-series every other year.
    radarthekatrezwits
  • Reply 10 of 29
    I'm sorry, but this article is a serious failure due to ignorance of some of the basic underlying technologies.

    For example, the guesses about memory are completely off base. There is literally no chance at all that they're even close, based on the article's assumptions.

    The M1 has a bandwidth of ~68GB/s because it has a 128-bit memory bus and uses LPDDR4 memory at 4.266GT/s. The M1 Pro has higher bandwidth of ~200GB/s because it uses LPDDR5 memory at 6.4GT/s, and ALSO because it uses a double-wide bus (256 bits).

    The M2 has the same memory bus size (128 bits) as the M1, but it's already using LPDDR5 at 6.4GT/s. If there's an M2 Pro based on the same doubling as the M1 Pro was, it won't get any further benefit from the LPDDR5 (since the M2 already has that). It will have the same ~200GB/s bandwidth as the M1 Pro.

    Of course this all depends on timing - if the M2 Pro came out a year from now, higher-performance LPDDR5 might be common/cheap enough for the M2 Pro to use it, in which case you'd see additional benefits from that. But it DEFINITELY wouldn't get you to 300GB/s. LPDDR5 will never be that fast (that would require 9.6GT/s, which is not happening in the DDR5 timeframe - unless DDR6 is horribly delayed, years from now).

    You're also assuming Apple won't go with HBM, which is not at all a safe assumption. If they do they might well do better than 300GB/s for the "M2 Pro", if such a thing were built.

    Your entire article could have been written something like this:
    M1 Ultra = 2x M1 Max = 4x M1 Pro ~= 6x-8x M1, so expect the same with the M2 series.

    It's a really bad bet though.

    There are much more interesting things to speculate about! What are they doing for an interconnect between CPU cores, GPU cores, Neural Engine, etc? Improvements there are *critical* to better performance - the Pro, Max, and Ultra are great at some things but extremely disappointing at others, and that's mostly down to the interconnect- though software may also play some part in it (especially with the GPU).

    Similarly, the chip-to-chip interconnect for the Ultra is a *huge* advance in the state of the art, unmatched by any other vendor right now... and yet it's not delivering the expected performance in some (many) cases. What have they learned from this, what can they do better, and when will they do it?

    (Edit to add) Most of all, will desktop versions of the M2 run at significantly higher clocks? I speculated about this here when the A15 came out - that core looked a lot like something built to run at higher clocks than earlier Ax cores. I'd like to think that I was right, and that that's been their game all along. But... Apple's performance chart (from the keynote) for the M2, if accurate, suggests that I was wrong and that they don't scale clocks any better than the M1 did. That might still be down to the interconnect, though it seems unlikely. It's also possible that they're holding back on purpose, underestimating performance at the highest clocks, though that too seems unlikely (why would they?).

    For this reason, I suspect that the M2 is a short-lived interim architecture, as someone else already guessed. Though in terms of branding, they may retain the "M2" name even if they improve the cores further for the "M2 Pro" or whatever. That would go against all past behavior, but they don't seem terribly bound by tradition.
    edited June 8 radarthekath4y3sPascalxxmobirdretrogustobenracicotdewmeprogrammersmalm
  • Reply 11 of 29
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,700member
    I believe there is a strong possibility that there will be no M2 pro, M2 max, or M2 ultra. It is rumored that TSMC will have 3NM chips in production in the second half of 2022. These will likely find their way into the iPhone 14 pro as the A16. This will likely be the chip generation (M3?) Apple uses for a new MacBook pro and max, the MacStudio max and ultra, and the MacPro. We will likely see the M2 used in an iMac refresh, and a Mac mini refresh, but that’s it.
    I wondered the same thing. M2 could be a stopgap. Maybe an M2 iPad Pro, too.

    It’s not unprecedented. If we think of the A#X chips used in the the iPad as analogous to pro/max/ultra, we can recall there was no A11X. 

    I wonder if apple will update the whole ASI lineup to M3 at a March event next year

    edit: two reasons why I suspect no mw pro/max/ultra:
    1. Those chips already have ddr5
    2. Those chips benefit less from efficiency cores (fewer of them)

    so it might just not be worth the effort 
    edited June 8 h4y3s12Strangers
  • Reply 12 of 29
    Good starting-point and good comments—thanks everyone. There is already a precedent for basic disparities between M1 and the M1Max family — the memory-type difference mentioned above. So the idea that M2Max could use a different process node from M2 is not wildly far-fetched. 

    Daniel Eran Dilger’s main point when Apple Silicon was announced was that he thought it was unlikely Apple would adhere to a rigid release schedule for Macintosh silicon. That Apple would be in a position to shape the silicon to the needs of their hardware releases, instead of the other way around. I think that’s what we’re seeing here. So the Mac Pro awaits its silicon, and when M2Max is ready the new machine will be released. 
    Pascalxxblastdoorprogrammer
  • Reply 13 of 29
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,700member
    This article https://wccftech.com/apple-m2-pro-and-m2-max-undergo-mass-production-tsmc-3nm-node-this-year/ suggests a combo of various comments in this thread — basically no 5nm m2 pro/max/ultra. The difference is they think the m2 pro/max/ultra names will be used, just for chips that are on a 3nm process.

    I guess that’s possible but I think it doesn’t make sense marketing wise. Bigger numbers always connote better, so if it’s credible to increment the integer, it’s usually the right thing to do. If apple were going to be conservative about incrementing integers they could have called this M2 the M1+ or M1e instead. Over time apple has actually become less conservative above integer increments — no more ‘s’ iPhones — so I bet these chips will get the number 3.
  • Reply 14 of 29
    Whatever goes into the MacPro at this point clearly will skip the M1 chip now that the M2 is already beginning to roll out. Any clue what a MacPro configuration might look like?
  • Reply 15 of 29
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,700member
    Whatever goes into the MacPro at this point clearly will skip the M1 chip now that the M2 is already beginning to roll out. Any clue what a MacPro configuration might look like?
    There are so many possibilities for the MacPro... 

    One possibility would be to make a custom SOC just for the MacPro using TSMC's 'high performance' N4X node: 
    https://www.anandtech.com/show/17123/tsmc-unveils-n4x-node-high-voltages-for-high-clocks

    The rationale here would be to really push performance to the limit and worry less about efficiency. If they did this, then I would think the Mac Pro SOC would get an entirely different naming convention. 

    Another option would be to somehow bolt two M1 Ultras together (40 CPU cores). 
    Another option would be to wait until 3nm and bolt two M-whatever Ultras together (the M-whatever might be designed from the start to fuse four dies together -- it seems the M1 series was only designed to fuse two together) 

    And I guess yet another option would be to just stick with x86, which isn't crazy, but would be kind of a let-down. 

  • Reply 16 of 29
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    Pascalxx said:
    I believe there is a strong possibility that there will be no M2 pro, M2 max, or M2 ultra. It is rumored that TSMC will have 3NM chips in production in the second half of 2022. These will likely find their way into the iPhone 14 pro as the A16. This will likely be the chip generation (M3?) Apple uses for a new MacBook pro and max, the MacStudio max and ultra, and the MacPro. We will likely see the M2 used in an iMac refresh, and a Mac mini refresh, but that’s it.
    I agree that there may be no M2 Pro/Max/Ultra based on the A15 cores, but Apple may still stick to the M2 Pro/Max/Ultra naming while actually using the newer A16 cores. Most users won’t care whether the underlying architecture of M2 and M2 Pro is the same, as long as the M2 Pro is the faster one. It would also allow Apple to differentiate the Pro chips further because of the higher efficiency and performance gains of the 3nm process.

    We could see something like this going forward (purely based on speculation and on the assumption that there will be a new A-series chip each year):
    2022 fall: A16
    2023 spring: M2 Pro/Max based on A16
    2023 fall: A17
    2024 spring: M3 based on A17
    2025 fall: A18
    2026 spring: M3 Pro/Max based on A18

    New A-series every year, new base M-series every other year.

    Agree. They won’t change the name because of the nm process.
  • Reply 17 of 29
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    Whatever goes into the MacPro at this point clearly will skip the M1 chip now that the M2 is already beginning to roll out. Any clue what a MacPro configuration might look like?

    Probably M2 Ultra or 4 M2 Ultras connected.

    (Terrible names by the way. Whoever is naming Apple’s products lately is fu**ing up royally)
  • Reply 18 of 29
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 822member
    Pascalxx said:
    I believe there is a strong possibility that there will be no M2 pro, M2 max, or M2 ultra. It is rumored that TSMC will have 3NM chips in production in the second half of 2022. These will likely find their way into the iPhone 14 pro as the A16. This will likely be the chip generation (M3?) Apple uses for a new MacBook pro and max, the MacStudio max and ultra, and the MacPro. We will likely see the M2 used in an iMac refresh, and a Mac mini refresh, but that’s it.
    I agree that there may be no M2 Pro/Max/Ultra based on the A15 cores, but Apple may still stick to the M2 Pro/Max/Ultra naming while actually using the newer A16 cores. Most users won’t care whether the underlying architecture of M2 and M2 Pro is the same, as long as the M2 Pro is the faster one. It would also allow Apple to differentiate the Pro chips further because of the higher efficiency and performance gains of the 3nm process.
    This may be way off, but from this conjecture, I feel with the Pro/Max/Ultra, they added the Encode/Decode engines, and changed the 4 Efficiency to 2 Efficiency, so maybe using the 3nm for the M2 Pro/Max/Ultra, is what distinguishes or sets them apart from the BASE M2 (Air) chip...
  • Reply 19 of 29
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,572member
    I believe there is a strong possibility that there will be no M2 pro, M2 max, or M2 ultra. It is rumored that TSMC will have 3NM chips in production in the second half of 2022. These will likely find their way into the iPhone 14 pro as the A16. This will likely be the chip generation (M3?) Apple uses for a new MacBook pro and max, the MacStudio max and ultra, and the MacPro. We will likely see the M2 used in an iMac refresh, and a Mac mini refresh, but that’s it.

    This is something that I believed would be the case after the transition was done; base M-series updated every year, "pro" variants every other year/generation. I do have my doubts though based on the fact that we have yet to see the Mac Pro, which is rumored to be based on a quad design, which would mean an M2 "Extreme", which would also mean a "Max" and "Ultra" since they're all basically the same SoC.

    Also, I can't help but be disappointed that the M2 is based on A15 cores though. This basically means the Mac will again be a generation behind the iPhone.


    Pascalxx said:
    I agree that there may be no M2 Pro/Max/Ultra based on the A15 cores, but Apple may still stick to the M2 Pro/Max/Ultra naming while actually using the newer A16 cores. 

    The numbering system refers to core technology. All M2's will use same cores, just as all M1 SoC's do. If the "pro" variants use A16 cores, they will be named "M3". This is exactly what they did with the A-series. This naming scheme is more than just marketing, it also allows developers to easily know exactly what every SoC is capable of.
    tenthousandthings
  • Reply 20 of 29
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,572member
    Whatever goes into the MacPro at this point clearly will skip the M1 chip now that the M2 is already beginning to roll out. Any clue what a MacPro configuration might look like?

    Yeah, given that they said the M1 Family was complete, we can safely bet there won't be another variant.

    With this "early" release of the M2, I'm thinking they're preparing us for the release of the M2 "Extreme" in the Mac Pro this Fall. And then in the Spring M2 Pro/Max/Ultra in their respective systems.
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