An M1 Ultra benchmark, a PowerPC Easter egg and other Mac Studio details

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Enlarge / Apple’s Mac Studio and Studio Display.

Apple

Apple’s announcements of the Mac Studio, Studio Display and new high-end M1 Ultra chip earlier this week focused on the flagship features of these devices, but there are always more details to explore as they go. as people dig into spec sheets and Apple answers questions from the press. Ahead of our full reviews, we’ve compiled some of the most interesting details about the new hardware.

M1 Ultra: they are not really “chiplets”

All members of the M1 family.
Enlarge / All members of the M1 family.

Apple

When the M1 Ultra was announced, we assumed, based on how Apple described it, that the processor used a chip-based design, connecting two separate M1 Max processor dies together using a high-speed interconnect like AMD’s Infinity Fabric. This turns out not to be strictly true – the M1 Ultra will look like a big chunk of silicon, just as it appears in Apple’s render images, two M1 Max chips packed with a silicon spacer between the two. computer world describes it like a large “840mm square die”.

The main risk of creating such a huge chip is that manufacturing yields will be low, because a larger surface area increases the likelihood that there is a defect somewhere in the chip. But TSMC has been manufacturing M1-based chips on its 5nm process for over a year now, giving it plenty of time to optimize yields. And Apple is able to binning the M1 Ultra (i.e. selling defective chips as low-end models with the defective parts disabled) because there are versions with 48 and 64 GPU cores.

The increased manufacturing complexity would explain why it costs so much to get an M1 Ultra at max. Switch from M1 Ultra with 48-core GPU to one with 64-core GPU costs $1,000 more. Compare that to single $200 it costs to upgrade the M1 Max from a 24-core GPU to a 32-core GPU.

Yes it’s fast

As expected, an authentic results page for Mac Studio and M1 Ultra appeared in the online results database Geekbench shortly after the end of Apple’s event. If the page is real, it helps save Apple’s performance. Its single and multi-core performance scores far exceed those of the The fastest 28-core Xeon W-3275M processor in the 2019 Mac Pro. A Mac Pro with this processor costs $13,000, compared to $4,000 for the M1 Ultra Studio model.

Geekbench only gives us a limited picture of any given device’s performance, especially for a professional desktop computer like the Studio. The machine’s ability to process large files for long periods of time will be just as important as its ability to run a benchmark application for two minutes. But this figure is nonetheless impressive.

Single-core performance isn’t much different than standard M1-powered devices, like the Mac mini. It makes sense – the M1 Ultra increases the number of cores, but the cores are still the same. It is, however, an interesting contrast to Intel and AMD’s approach to single-threaded performance; both companies tend to increase the maximum single-core clock speeds of their high-end processors to further differentiate them from cheaper models. It’s also possible that trying to increase single-core clock speeds for high-end M1 chips will blow Apple’s power budget.

Studio Display: it works with Windows

It's designed for Macs, but Windows PCs can also use the Studio Display.
Enlarge / It’s designed for Macs, but Windows PCs can also use the Studio Display.

Apple

Apple’s new Studio 5K display only lists Macs and iPads on its compatibility listcorn nothing will stop it from working with Windows PCs that can handle it. The Center Stage camera’s fancy panning feature and True Tone support won’t work, but the display itself, its speakers and webcam will all record on Windows PCs, and loading via USB-PD will probably also work for PCs. However, you will need to connect the display to an Apple device to perform firmware updates.

We don’t yet know the required PC specs for the monitor. More modern computers with 11th or 12th Gen Intel processors and Thunderbolt ports should be the safest bet. But whether the display will work with a standard USB-C port or a DisplayPort to USB-C connection remains to be seen. We will do some tests in our review.

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