How Monster M1 Ultra Chip Law Works

July 16, 2023
David Sunnyside

The M1 Ultra is something of a Frankenstein chip, combining two M1 Max dies into one system-on-a-chip. It has up to 20 CPU cores, a 64-core GPU, a 32-core Neural Engine, and 128GB of unified memory — all with an 800GB/s memory bandwidth.

But the main story is that it delivers performance that rivals top PC desktop systems in a form factor that’s just slightly bigger than a Mac mini. That’s thanks to the M1 Ultra’s 114 billion transistors (two chips, mind you) and the advanced 5nm manufacturing process from TSMC.

This enables the M1 Ultra to trade blows with high-end Intel and AMD CPUs in raw performance, while also pulling one quarter to a third of their power. Apple also uses a CPU and GPU architecture designed for iPhones, which helps keep power consumption under control with mechanisms like very effective power gating.

The result is a system that can deliver workstation-class graphics and computing power for less than the price of a midrange PC. In our tests, the M1 Ultra was able to handle a wide range of video games and 3D modeling workloads, including those that require a lot of graphical power.

But it’s not without its limitations. It’s not easy to run x86 games on native Apple silicon, and the M1 Ultra falls well behind the 3090 in a number of titles. World of Warcraft is an exception - it runs natively on the M1 Ultra and keeps pace with a modern RTX GPU, but Metro Exodus and Tomb Raider have some serious frame-time issues that make them unplayable.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram