M3 Ultra Mac Studio rumored to debut in mid-2024 -- without a Mac Pro

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 24

Supply chain reports suggest Apple will continue to increase its use of TSMC's 3 nanometer wafers through 2024 with the M3 Ultra said to debut in a Mac Studio around the 2024 WWDC timeframe -- but perhaps without a refreshed Mac Pro.

Apple M3 is built on the 3nm process
Apple M3 is built on the 3nm process



Apple shifted to the 3 nanometer process with M3 and A17 Pro in 2023. The process is almost exclusively owned by TSMC and may continue to be the case through 2024.

According to Trendforce, based on data from The Elec and a report from ICsmart, TSMC customers that include Apple will increase orders for second generation 3nm process wafers up to 80% utilization by the end of 2024. Apple will introduce new chips using the process later in 2024 like the M3 Ultra and A18 Pro.

The M3 Ultra is expected to be launched with an updated Mac Studio in the middle of the year.

The report doesn't make any specific mention of a Mac Pro using the chipset, however. It's not clear if this is an accidental omission, or an intentional statement.

This information appears to originate from the supply chain. It matches up with Apple's release pattern, and previous reports on the matter. The continued use of the 3nm process for the next year or so is probable -- but we're less certain about no Mac Pro update in conjunction with a Mac Studio.

Apple surprised the world by introducing three M-series processors at once, and ahead of expected cadence during its "Scary Fast" event. The M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max were all revealed in late October 2023.

More Macs will likely be introduced with those processors before M3 Ultra is revealed. Given Apple's previous patterns, M3 Ultra will likely be announced during WWDC in June.

Rumor Score: Possible

Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    hypoluxahypoluxa Posts: 694member
    I can't see them (yet) removing the MacPro from their roster. The PCI expansion slots are a niche market for some Pro users who use them, they still have a customer market for it albeit a shrinking one.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 41
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member
    TSMC customers that include Apple will increase orders for second generation 3nm process wafers

    Not so sure this applies to the M3 Ultra; the next generation 3nm process is not compatible with the first generation, which is why so many other companies have opted to pass on it and wait.

    The A18 will make the switch as will the M4.
    ForumPostnubush2pwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 41
    thttht Posts: 5,548member
    mjtomlin said:
    TSMC customers that include Apple will increase orders for second generation 3nm process wafers
    Not so sure this applies to the M3 Ultra; the next generation 3nm process is not compatible with the first generation, which is why so many other companies have opted to pass on it and wait.

    The A18 will make the switch as will the M4.
    Yeah. Apple is already making M3 Max chips on N3B. What's the point of using N3E when TSMC is fabbing M3 Max chips on order low millions of chips? The M3 Ultra is two M3 Max chips and the UltraFusion silicon bridge. So, the compute chips are already available. Just waiting on the silicon bridge chip, qualification/validation of the M3 Ultra, and marketing timing. Apple still needs to up their ambition and ship the quad Max chip solution too. You hope they can ship it for every generation.

    N3E? Yeah, that might arrive in time for the A18 and M4 family of chips. Apple could be using four generations of TSMC 3nm fabs: N3B, N3E, N3P and N3X. Won't see TSMC 2nm chips until late 2026 at the earliest.
    ForumPosth2pwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 41
    hypoluxa said:
    I can't see them (yet) removing the MacPro from their roster. The PCI expansion slots are a niche market for some Pro users who use them, they still have a customer market for it albeit a shrinking one.
    Could this not be addressed with a working external PCI expansion system?
    pulseimageswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 41
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,871member
    Perhaps Apple will release MacPro with an M3 Extreme of some sort? They need to do something to differentiate the Mac Pro from Mac Studio other than it has PCIe slots. More CPU/GPU power, higher RAM capacity would definitely separate it from the Mac Studio for those who really need the power and capacity. Make it actually worth its $6-7,000 starting price tag. 
    saarekpulseimageswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 41
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,551member
    macxpress said:
    Perhaps Apple will release MacPro with an M3 Extreme of some sort? They need to do something to differentiate the Mac Pro from Mac Studio other than it has PCIe slots. More CPU/GPU power, higher RAM capacity would definitely separate it from the Mac Studio for those who really need the power and capacity. Make it actually worth its $6-7,000 starting price tag. 
    The Mac Pro is obviously missing the Extreme chip version. Yes, some people need the PCIe slots, although Apple has made them less attractive by not supporting GPU’s, etc.

    Still, if they put in an extreme chip the design suddenly has a reason to exist and justify its price cost.
    fastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 41
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member
    macxpress said:
    Perhaps Apple will release MacPro with an M3 Extreme of some sort? They need to do something to differentiate the Mac Pro from Mac Studio other than it has PCIe slots. More CPU/GPU power, higher RAM capacity would definitely separate it from the Mac Studio for those who really need the power and capacity. Make it actually worth its $6-7,000 starting price tag. 
    Given the performance of the M3 Max, I wouldn’t expect an “Extreme” variant at this point. The Ultra is going to be a monster. The Mac Pro is just going to be an option for PCI expansion.
    d_2watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 41
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,871member
    mjtomlin said:
    macxpress said:
    Perhaps Apple will release MacPro with an M3 Extreme of some sort? They need to do something to differentiate the Mac Pro from Mac Studio other than it has PCIe slots. More CPU/GPU power, higher RAM capacity would definitely separate it from the Mac Studio for those who really need the power and capacity. Make it actually worth its $6-7,000 starting price tag. 
    Given the performance of the M3 Max, I wouldn’t expect an “Extreme” variant at this point. The Ultra is going to be a monster. The Mac Pro is just going to be an option for PCI expansion.
    Then Mac Pro isn't long for this world if that happens to be the case. They aren't going to continue development of a system very few will buy with the same exact specs as a Mac Studio minus the PCIe slots. The cost to keep the Mac Pro going just won't make any sense. There won't be enough buyers who need PCIe slots to make up the costs to maintain the Mac Pro line. 
    edited January 4 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 41
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member
    macxpress said:
    mjtomlin said:
    macxpress said:
    Perhaps Apple will release MacPro with an M3 Extreme of some sort? They need to do something to differentiate the Mac Pro from Mac Studio other than it has PCIe slots. More CPU/GPU power, higher RAM capacity would definitely separate it from the Mac Studio for those who really need the power and capacity. Make it actually worth its $6-7,000 starting price tag. 
    Given the performance of the M3 Max, I wouldn’t expect an “Extreme” variant at this point. The Ultra is going to be a monster. The Mac Pro is just going to be an option for PCI expansion.
    Then Mac Pro isn't long for this world if that happens to be the case. They aren't going to continue development of a system very few will buy with the same exact specs as a Mac Studio minus the PCIe slots. The cost to keep the Mac Pro going just won't make any sense. There won't be enough buyers who need PCIe slots to make up the costs to maintain the Mac Pro line. 

    A $3000 mark up for those PCI slots is worth Apple’s time regardless how many sell.
    d_2danoxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 41
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,447member
    mjtomlin said:
    macxpress said:
    Perhaps Apple will release MacPro with an M3 Extreme of some sort? They need to do something to differentiate the Mac Pro from Mac Studio other than it has PCIe slots. More CPU/GPU power, higher RAM capacity would definitely separate it from the Mac Studio for those who really need the power and capacity. Make it actually worth its $6-7,000 starting price tag. 
    Given the performance of the M3 Max, I wouldn’t expect an “Extreme” variant at this point. The Ultra is going to be a monster. The Mac Pro is just going to be an option for PCI expansion.
    The Ultra is going to be great, but it’s still not going to touch high-end PC configs which is what they really need to do if they want to win back the tower-based GPU user base. For people who work in 3D all day, it’s still a night and day difference despite the advances Apple has been making. 

    My understanding is the M3 Max has the same setup as the previous gens in that it’s gonna be two fused together for the Ultra, but there’s no signal the SoC is set up for a quad configuration. Rumors are that there’s no way that’s happening until the M5/6/7 at the earliest for this reason. BUT, who knows — I would love to be surprised and find out Apple is breaking patterns again like how the M3 Pro is not just a Max with GPUs lopped off, and that they’ve got a secret bespoke Mac Pro chip that’ll explain their reasoning for even keeping that giant tower alive. Not holding my breath, but it’d be so great to see Apple flex against Nvidia and win some of those people back. 
    h2pwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 41
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,107member
    Hopefully behind the scenes Apple is starting to support thru hardware/software any software needed for AI/Inference, in the next three years Apple has to whatever they can to push UMA their 128 GIG and above memory systems using Apple Silicons high performance low wattage systems. I hope they can showcase multiple UMA 256 gig Mac Studio's running together at WWDC.

    https://creativestrategies.com/apple-silicon-and-the-mac-in-the-age-of-ai/

    https://anakin.ai/blog/mlx-apple-m1-m2/
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 41
    danox said:
    Hopefully behind the scenes Apple is starting to support thru hardware/software any software needed for AI/Inference, in the next three years Apple has to whatever they can to push UMA their 128 GIG and above memory systems using Apple Silicons high performance low wattage systems. I hope they can showcase multiple UMA 256 gig Mac Studio's running together at WWDC.

    https://creativestrategies.com/apple-silicon-and-the-mac-in-the-age-of-ai/

    https://anakin.ai/blog/mlx-apple-m1-m2/
    Would be very expensive. Also why? You don't need nearly that much for inference, which is 99% of the use-case. Model training is for specialised datacenters.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 41
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,447member
    danox said:
    Hopefully behind the scenes Apple is starting to support thru hardware/software any software needed for AI/Inference, in the next three years Apple has to whatever they can to push UMA their 128 GIG and above memory systems using Apple Silicons high performance low wattage systems. I hope they can showcase multiple UMA 256 gig Mac Studio's running together at WWDC.

    https://creativestrategies.com/apple-silicon-and-the-mac-in-the-age-of-ai/

    https://anakin.ai/blog/mlx-apple-m1-m2/
    That’s the last thing I’d expect to see from Apple at WWDC. Are you serious?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 41
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,272member
    hypoluxa said:
    I can't see them (yet) removing the MacPro from their roster. The PCI expansion slots are a niche market for some Pro users who use them, they still have a customer market for it albeit a shrinking one.
    Could this not be addressed with a working external PCI expansion system?
    I don't see why not. I don't see it using a "standard" PCI interface although the Mac Pro uses the (almost) newest PCIe Gen4 x16 and x8 slots. I could see a much faster PCIe interface or something like an extension of the unified memory architecture to an external box allowing the might speed possible to multiple PCIe cards. I know some people want everything in one box but splitting that box into two might be a better choice for those professionals who want to tune their system to their specific needs. An M3 Ultra CPU "box" (Mac Studio) might be enough to serve as a standalone device for semi-professionals (not going to start a rant on who is semi and who is a full professional) as well as the back engine for full professionals needing high-end PCIe boards for specific tasks (animation, video, sound, movies, scientific processes requiring a supercomputer). Everything is getting smaller and working in clusters so starting with a  7.7" x 7.7" x 3.7" tiny box instead of a 8.58" x 17.7" x 20.8 behemoth weighing 37.2 lbs without any PCIe cards installed makes a huge difference in a computer/server room. I would like to see Apple offer clustering software along with the addition of one of the fastest computer interfaces ( PCIe6 x16 968-Gbps, NVLink 2.0 1.2Tbps, or even a very expensive Infinity Fabric 4.096 Tbps) would provide an amazingly fast Mac cluster capable of competing with just about any specialized, much more expensive mainframe level cluster system. Something in between would be much nicer than keeping the Mac Pro form factor.
    d_2roundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 41
    rob53 said:
    hypoluxa said:
    I can't see them (yet) removing the MacPro from their roster. The PCI expansion slots are a niche market for some Pro users who use them, they still have a customer market for it albeit a shrinking one.
    Could this not be addressed with a working external PCI expansion system?
    I don't see why not. I don't see it using a "standard" PCI interface although the Mac Pro uses the (almost) newest PCIe Gen4 x16 and x8 slots. I could see a much faster PCIe interface or something like an extension of the unified memory architecture to an external box allowing the might speed possible to multiple PCIe cards. I know some people want everything in one box but splitting that box into two might be a better choice for those professionals who want to tune their system to their specific needs. An M3 Ultra CPU "box" (Mac Studio) might be enough to serve as a standalone device for semi-professionals (not going to start a rant on who is semi and who is a full professional) as well as the back engine for full professionals needing high-end PCIe boards for specific tasks (animation, video, sound, movies, scientific processes requiring a supercomputer). Everything is getting smaller and working in clusters so starting with a  7.7" x 7.7" x 3.7" tiny box instead of a 8.58" x 17.7" x 20.8 behemoth weighing 37.2 lbs without any PCIe cards installed makes a huge difference in a computer/server room. I would like to see Apple offer clustering software along with the addition of one of the fastest computer interfaces ( PCIe6 x16 968-Gbps, NVLink 2.0 1.2Tbps, or even a very expensive Infinity Fabric 4.096 Tbps) would provide an amazingly fast Mac cluster capable of competing with just about any specialized, much more expensive mainframe level cluster system. Something in between would be much nicer than keeping the Mac Pro form factor.
    Not supporting a GPU or RAM expansion via PCI felt like a slap to animators and other professionals who require that. If you don't support those things what's the point of spending $3K more for a tower to plug your video card into? Just buy the Studio and use Thunderbolt. If Apple doesn't bring more PCI support in future chips there is literally no reason for the MacPro, not to say there is one now. 
    d_2williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 41
    longpathlongpath Posts: 394member
    As long as the Mac Pro offers no further processor tier above what the Studio offers, its phase out seems inevitable. I don’t see there being enough demand for PCI Express slots to cover the production costs. If, on the other hand, an additional processor tier above the maximum offering of the Studio becomes available, then I could see the Pro being with us a long time. The loss of the MPX module compatibility already weighs against the current Pro.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 41
    I much prefer macOS over Windows but unless a person really needs Mac specific software they are much better off using something like a HP Z8 Fury G5 which offers much more freedom for high end applications.
    williamlondoncanukstorm9secondkox2
  • Reply 18 of 41
    Interesting set of comments above. I can't see the Mac Pro getting capabilities that can't also be acquired via external Thunderbolt/PCIe enclosures for the Mac Studio and MacBook Pro. I think that's the unspoken, as-yet unrealized message that the 2023 Mac Pro sends. Its place in the lineup is about convenience, having everything inside a box. It's not about having capabilities no other Mac can reach.

    Maybe at one point, early on in the development of Mac silicon, Apple thought an Extreme, quad M-series variant for Mac Pro only would make sense. The original "Jade" leak, which was otherwise 100% correct, suggests that. But that is ancient history now. It dates to before the Mac Studio and, more importantly, to before the A17/M3 graphics architecture. Apple has been driving toward this since at least the A12X in 2018. That October 30 presentation in Brooklyn ("More in the Making") for the iPad Pro is important, and with the benefit of hindsight we can see it is the first major event that foreshadows the transition to A14/M1 -- the executives on stage, which include Anand Shimpi (for the first time, I think, I could be wrong), know there is no turning back. It's a very different feel from 2017, in retrospect. 

    If they abandoned the M1/M2 Extreme in favor of a different approach, a change in direction that may have been hinted at by Anand Shimpi less than a year ago (February 2023), then Apple has displayed an ability to adapt that is heartening. The whole trajectory from 2017 to the present looks really good in that respect.

    I think there's no rush. They need PCIe 5 (let alone 6) and Thunderbolt 5/DisplayPort 2.1 to build this structure, and the industry shift to these standards will progress slowly. But I think it's pretty clear that Apple knows what it is doing. There are signs. For example, there were people all up in arms about how Apple uses PCIe lanes in the 2023 Mac Pro, but those criticisms were all predicated on expectations for PCIe 3 lanes, not PCIe 4. The whole thing was just unbelievably stupid. 
    edited January 5 d_2nubus9secondkox2watto_cobrafastasleep
  • Reply 19 of 41
    hypoluxahypoluxa Posts: 694member
    macxpress said:
    Perhaps Apple will release MacPro with an M3 Extreme of some sort? They need to do something to differentiate the Mac Pro from Mac Studio other than it has PCIe slots. More CPU/GPU power, higher RAM capacity would definitely separate it from the Mac Studio for those who really need the power and capacity. Make it actually worth its $6-7,000 starting price tag. 

    Rumor had it they were we're working on one. That would definitely be the differentiator for the costs between HW options along with PCIe slots.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 41
    keithwkeithw Posts: 145member
    Let's hope it's mid year! I'm finally going to replace my 2017 iMac Pro. 
    watto_cobra
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