How Monster M1 Ultra Remains True to Moore’s Law
In 1983, chip designers Furber and Sophie Wilson created a processor called the ARM1. It had just 25,000 transistors—but it was a start. This was the grand-dad of all modern processors, setting off a chain reaction of innovation that has brought us to where we are today. And that chain reaction is still going. According to the legendary dictum coined by chip pioneer Gordon Moore, transistor counts on chips double every two years.
This year marks the summer solstice, and it’s an appropriate time to look at how far we have come since then. The new Apple M1 Ultra, for example, has 114 billion transistors on a 1.3-inch square chip that fits inside the Mac Studio. That’s enough to put a whole computer desktop in your bag, and it highlights how much progress we have made in keeping Moore’s Law alive.
The M1 Ultra trades blows with the top PC chips on raw CPU performance, and it is a couple of rungs below the leaders on GPU performance. However, the key metric isn’t raw performance; it’s power consumption, and the M1 Ultra delivers great results here. It manages to keep pace with fast consumer desktops while consuming a quarter or less of the power. In some cases, it even beats them. This is a remarkable achievement for such a tiny and energy-efficient processor.