The M2 Ultra: Apple’s Latest Bit of Silicon Magic

On June 5, 2023, at its annual developers’ conference (WWDC 2023), Apple introduced its new system on a chip (SoC), the M2 Ultra. This latest addition to the M2 family is being touted as the largest and most capable chip that Apple has ever created. However, it’s important to note that these claims come directly from Apple, and independent testing will be necessary to confirm these assertions.

According to Apple’s press release, the M2 Ultra is built using a second-generation 5-nanometer process and employs Apple’s UltraFusion technology. This technology connects the die of two M2 Max chips, effectively doubling the performance. The M2 Ultra consists of 134 billion transistors, 20 billion more than the M1 Ultra and its unified memory architecture supports up to 192GB of memory capacity, which is 50 percent more than the M1 Ultra.

Apple claims that the M2 Ultra features a more powerful CPU that’s 20 percent faster than the M1 Ultra, a larger GPU up to 30 percent faster, and a Neural Engine up to 40 percent faster. It also features a media engine with twice the capabilities of the M2 Max for ProRes acceleration.

Apple’s UltraFusion packaging technology uses a silicon interposer to connect the dies of two M2 Max chips, creating the M2 Ultra. This architecture allows the M2 Ultra to appear as a single chip to software, which means code doesn’t need to be rewritten to utilize the extreme performance of M2 Ultra.

The 24-core CPU of M2 Ultra consists of 16 next-generation high-performance cores and eight next-generation high-efficiency cores. The GPU can be configured with 60 or 76 next-generation cores. This is up to 12 more cores and up to a 30 percent improvement compared to the GPU of the M1 Ultra.

Apple’s unified memory architecture, a hallmark of Apple silicon, delivers incredible bandwidth, low latency, and unmatched power efficiency. M2 Ultra features 800GB/s of system memory bandwidth, which Apple says is far greater than anything found in a PC. And it can be configured with a massive 192GB of unified memory, which enables workflows not possible on a PC.

The M2 Ultra integrates Apple’s latest custom technologies right on the chip, maximizing performance and efficiency. It features a 32-core Neural Engine, delivering 31.6 trillion operations per second, supposedly 40 percent faster than M1 Ultra. The powerful media engine has twice the capabilities of M2 Max, further accelerating video processing. It has dedicated, hardware-enabled H.264, HEVC, and ProRes encode and decode, allowing M2 Ultra to play back up to 22 streams of 8K ProRes 422 video.

Source: Apple

With the introduction of the M2 Ultra, Apple has completed its transition to Apple silicon for the Mac, revolutionizing the laptop and desktop experience. However, it’s important to remember that these are Apple’s claims, and independent testing will be necessary to confirm these assertions.

Featured Image Credit: Apple

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