M2 Ultra Processor
The M2 Ultra system on a chip (SoC) represents the new pinnacle of Apple’s M2 family, offering an array of impressive features and capabilities in a similar-looking package. Unlike the previous generation Mac Pro that was based on Intel, all models of the new Mac Pro come equipped with the M2 Ultra, boasting a 24-core CPU, a powerful 32-core neural engine, and an astounding 800 GB/s of memory bandwidth. The base configuration includes a 60-core GPU and 64 GB of unified memory, while users have the option to upgrade for even greater performance with a mind-blowing 76-core GPU and an exceptional 192 GB of unified memory.
What sets the M2 Ultra apart is its utilization of Apple’s proprietary UltraFusion technology, which claims to seamlessly connect two M2 Max chips to deliver unparalleled performance. This custom-built packaging technology employs a silicon interposer that facilitates a low-latency interprocessor bandwidth exceeding 2.5TB/s, connecting the two dies through over 10,000 signals. Apple claims that this unique architecture enables the M2 Ultra to appear as a single chip to software, eliminating the need for code modifications to fully exploit its extreme performance capabilities.
With an impressive 134 billion transistors, the M2 Ultra boasts 20 billion more transistors than its predecessor, the M1 Ultra. Its unified memory architecture sets a new standard by supporting an astonishing 192GB of memory capacity, a 50 percent increase from the M1 Ultra. Moreover, the M2 Ultra features a substantial memory bandwidth of 800GB/s, twice that of the M2 Max. Performance-wise, the M2 Ultra offers a CPU that is 20 per cent faster, a GPU that is up to 30 percent faster, and a Neural Engine that delivers a 40 per cent increase in performance compared to the M1 Ultra.
An exceptional feature of the M2 Ultra is its powerful media engine, which boasts twice the capabilities of the M2 Max, enabling seamless ProRes acceleration. With dedicated hardware-enabled H.264, HEVC, and ProRes encode and decode capabilities, the M2 Ultra effortlessly handles up to 22 streams of 8K ProRes 422 video playback—an unmatched achievement by any PC chip. Additionally, the display engine supports up to six Pro Display XDRs, capable of driving over 100 million pixels. This showcased a strong focus towards video professionals, who might have found the first-generation Mac Studio to be a bit restrictive when handling large-scale media projects.
Apple has also focused on improving the security of the new Mac Pro, incorporating the latest Secure Enclave along with hardware-verified secure boot and runtime anti-exploitation technologies, ensuring top-notch security measures. You also get to utilize the latest in AI enhancements that are meant to make the most out of all this available power while maintaining utmost efficiency thanks to the unified chipset design and the new MacOS software that is optimized specifically for this new combination. Since Apple has a very deep control over both the hardware and software of the product, they can ensure that each side takes the best step forward to reduce any possible bottlenecks or bugs.
The Mac Pro offers a wide array of connectivity options, including eight Thunderbolt 4 ports (six at the back and two on the top/front for rack enclosures), two USB Type-A ports, two HDMI ports, two 10 GbE ports, and a 3.5 mm audio jack. Additionally, it features one internal USB-A port and two SATA ports, making it one of the first modern Mac machines to support Wi-Fi 6E.
Notably, the Mac Pro supports PCIe expansion, making it the first Apple silicon Mac to provide this feature. It houses six full-length PCIe Gen 4 slots, comprising two x16 slots and four x8 slots, alongside a half-length PCIe Gen 3 slot equipped with the Apple I/O card. Power is supplied through two six-pin connectors, each delivering 75 W and one 150 W 8-pin connector.
Price & Availability
The new Apple Mac Pro, equipped with the M2 Ultra chipset, is available in two variants: the tower version starts at US$6,999, while the rack variant starts at US$7,499. This is a product that has obviously been targeted at a very niche professional market, where every few percent of improvement in performance means a lot, and with this new product range, Apple is hoping to increase that Apple-silicon advantage a lot further.