Apple finally lifted the veil from the M2 Ultra at WWDC 2023, and it is now the company’s fastest custom silicon that is not only found in the Mac Pro but the Mac Studio too. The latest SoC directly succeeds the M1 Ultra, but just how big of a difference did the company bring in a single generation? Here, we compare the specifications and the performance differences of both chipsets.
Apple’s M2 Ultra and M1 Ultra share a wide number of differences, but it does not change the fact that both chipsets are 5nm parts
For some reason, Apple chose TSMC’s 5nm process for the M2 Ultra, which has not changed with the M1 Ultra. Likely, A16 Bionic’s 4nm node was not chosen due to higher costs, but this means that none of the company’s custom chips featured in its Mac family have gone beyond the 5nm threshold. Despite this limitation, Apple has managed to improve the M2 Ultra, as it features 134 billion transistors, which is 20 billion more than the M1 Ultra’s 114 billion transistors.
Another similarity shared between the M2 Ultra, and M1 Ultra is that they were both developed using a process called UltraFusion, which combines two M2 Max and M1 Max to create a more powerful version of the Apple Silicon. This process may have improved because the new M2 Ultra can accommodate more CPU and GPU cores this time, not to mention support for higher unified RAM and the same 800GB/s memory bandwidth as the M1 Ultra. Previously, the maximum supported unified RAM support was 128GB, and it has jumped to 192GB with the latest release.
Also, users can configure their latest Mac Pro or the Mac Studio with the M2 Ultra with up to a 24-core CPU and 76-core GPU configuration, whereas earlier, the M1 Ultra was limited to a 20-core CPU and 64-core GPU. The 32-core Neural Engine remains the same across both chipsets, but here is the kicker, the unit in the M2 Ultra is 40 percent faster. As for the CPU and GPU, Apple claims that its latest and greatest silicon is up to 20 percent and up to 30 percent faster in both categories, respectively, compared to the M1 Ultra.
How fast is the M2 Ultra for creative professionals?
Apple claims that while running DaVinci Resolve, colorists will experience up to 50 percent faster video processing with the M2 Ultra. In 3D rendering effects, the same chipset is up to 300 percent faster than the M1 Ultra. Strange enough, the company did not provide any comparisons with Final Cut Pro, possibly because the differences while running that program are negligible.
How many external displays can the M2 Ultra support?
Possessing twice the capabilities of the M2 Max, along with hardware-enabled H.264, HEVC, and ProRes encode and decode support, the M2 Ultra can play back up to 22 streams of 8K ProRes video, which is only slightly higher than the M1 Ultra, which can play back up to 18 streams of the same footage. Also, the M2 Ultra can support up to six Pro Display XDR monitors with a 6K resolution, each running at 60Hz, while the M1 Ultra is limited to four of them.
Apple has made several changes to the M2 Ultra, and while the company sings praises on the performance improvements and other upgrades made to its latest SoC compared to the M1 Ultra, keep in mind that narrating your own product’s advantages is half the story. The real differences will be seen when benchmarks and other impartial tests are run, and as always, we will provide those details to our readers in due time.