Apple has just released a new microprocessor of the M1 family. And, according to Cupertino, it is the most powerful of all. Its figures are promising. Very much so. It incorporates 20 CPU cores, 64 cores for graphics, and has a power of 21 TFLOPS. However, these figures only tell part of the story.
During the presentation of this chip, the company’s spokesmen assured that the increased power of this microprocessor does not affect its efficiency in the least. It makes sense if we bear in mind that its microarchitecture is the same as that used by the other processors in this family.
Moreover, the other M1 chips have shown us in our tests that their efficiency is very competitive, so it is reasonable that this new hyper-vitaminized version of this CPU will keep this feature intact (something we will check as soon as the first computer equipped with this chip falls into our hands).
More power than ever, but the same efficiency as ever (according to Apple)
One of the first slides used by the brand’s spokespersons to present the new M1 Ultra chip clearly showed that this processor doubles the surface area of the M1 Max. Far from being anecdotal, this data invites us to intuit that the number of transistors integrated by Apple in the M1 Ultra processor is significantly higher (it is being manufactured using 5 nm photolithography and incorporates 114 billion transistors).
16 of the 20 general-purpose cores integrated into the CPU are high-performance, while the remaining 4 cores prioritize efficiency, so they will be responsible for processing those threads that are not critical from a performance point of view.
The high-performance cores are supported by a 192 KB instruction cache, a 128 KB data cache, and share a 48 MB level 2 cache. On the other hand, high-efficiency cores have at their disposal a 128 KB instruction cache, a 64 KB data cache, and, finally, share an 8 MB level 2 cache.
These figures look good on paper, but until we test a computer with the M1 Ultra chip, we won’t know for sure how much of an advantage it has over the M1 Max processor.
Let’s move on to the graphics logic. In the next slide, we can see that the M1 Ultra chip incorporates 64 cores dedicated to graphics processing. Here are some figures that are intended to illustrate the performance that this logic promises us: it incorporates 8192 execution units, can concurrently process no less than 196 608 execution threads, has a computing power of 21 TFLOPS, a texture fill rate of 660 Gtexels/s, and, to conclude, a pixel rate of 330 Gpixels/s.
These figures are spectacular. They rival, without the slightest complex, those offered by the most powerful desktop graphics processors currently available. It will be very interesting to see how this graphics logic performs in a real-world scenario, but there is no doubt that it shows promise. Very much so.
One of the qualities we users most appreciate about the M1 family processors is their stellar performance-to-watt ratio. And, according to Apple, the new M1 Ultra chip keeps the pedigree of the other CPUs in this family intact. The following slide aims to put the performance and power consumption of the M1 Ultra processor in context by comparing its figures with those of a PC equipped with an Intel Core i9-12900K processor and DDR5 memory.
It is clear that Apple is an interested party, and we do not know in detail under what conditions and with what software it has produced this graph, but there is no doubt that these figures contribute to generating very high expectations around the M1 Ultra chip. It may not be long before we can confirm whether these numbers are a true reflection of reality, but again, they are very promising.
Apple has raised expectations around the M1 Ultra processor
The features that we have just delved into are not the only ones that this brand has unveiled to describe the potential of the M1 Ultra chip. Apple has also revealed that the bus that acts as a communication interface between the different functional units of this microprocessor is capable of achieving a transfer rate of 2.5 TB/s, an extraordinarily competitive figure compared to those offered by other current CPUs.
More interesting data. The maximum memory bus bandwidth is 800 GB/s, and the logic responsible for executing the artificial intelligence algorithms (which has 32 cores) is capable of performing 22 trillion operations per second (that’s trillions of ours, not the Anglo-Saxon ones). Finally, the M1 Ultra processor can address a maximum of 128 GB of main memory.
The figures released by Apple today to ‘sell’ us its most powerful microprocessor are impressive. It is wise not to get carried away until we have a chance to try the first device with this chip, but both the overall performance and the performance/watt ratio of the other processors in the M1 family invite us to anticipate that the M1 Ultra chip should indeed be a very competitive CPU. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope to find out soon.