Apple Silicon Mac Pro Configurations: Everything We Know
Thanks to various reports and the launch of the Mac Studio earlier this year, there is an increasingly clear picture of what to expect from Apple silicon Mac Pro configurations later this year.
The Mac Pro is one of the last Intel-based Mac models still on sale and the only remaining Mac product line with no Apple silicon chip options. An all-new model that finally brings Apple silicon to Apple's top-tier Mac for professionals has now been anticipated for over two years. At its "Peek Performance" event earlier this year, Apple even teased the launch of the Apple silicon Mac Pro, saying "that's for another day."
Previously, reports about a smaller Mac Pro model placed somewhere between the Mac mini and the Mac Pro made it difficult to know what to expect from the future of the high-end Mac Pro line, but it is now clear many of these rumors related to the Mac Studio, clarifying what is expected from the next-generation Mac Pro.
Multiple reports from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman about the Apple silicon Mac Pro's chip options and specifications provide a fairly straightforward picture of what to expect from the new flagship Mac. According to Gurman, users will reportedly be able to configure the new Mac Pro with "M2 Ultra" and "M2 Extreme" chip options. The device's configurations are likely to look as follows:
Mac Pro With M2 Ultra
- 20-core CPU (16 high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores)
- Up to a 64-core GPU
- 32-core Neural Engine
- 64GB or 128GB of unified memory
Mac Pro With M2 Extreme
- 40-core CPU (32 high-performance cores and eight high-efficiency cores)
- Up to a 128-core GPU
- 64-core Neural Engine
- At least 128GB or 256GB of unified memory
At present, the M1 Ultra is Apple's most powerful custom silicon chip available, featuring a 20-core CPU and up to a 64-core GPU, along with a 32-core Neural Engine. Sitting above the Ultra in the chip lineup, the M2 Extreme would presumably surpass these specs to become the top-tier Apple silicon chip for maximum performance.
According to these rumors, the M2 Extreme would surpass the top-tier Intel Xeon W CPU option with 28-cores offered in the current Intel-based Mac Pro. The M2 Extreme's known specifications effectively double the capabilities of the M1 Ultra in the Mac Studio, but if it is based on the more advanced 5nm fabrication process behind the current M2 chip, it is likely that there will be a range of other improvements in terms of core technologies, efficiency, and clock speed.
The M2 chip delivers an 18 percent faster CPU, a 35 percent more powerful GPU, a 40 percent faster Neural Engine, and 50 percent more memory bandwidth compared to the M1 chip. A similar performance delta between the M1 Ultra and M2 Ultra seems likely.
The current Mac Pro is available with up to 1.5TB of memory, a $25,000 configuration option available to $11,999 and $12,999 Mac Pro models with 24- and 28-core CPUs. Since Apple silicon Macs use a shared pool of unified memory rather than the conventional DDR4 ECC memory sticks used in the current Mac Pro, it seems probable that it will be available with considerably less memory.
The M1 family of chips follows a clear system for increasing unified memory options, with the M1 offering 8GB or 16GB, the M1 Pro offering 16GB or 32GB, the M1 Max offering 32GB or 64GB, and the M1 Ultra offering 64GB or 128GB. As such, it seems plausible that any new "Extreme" chip above the Ultra will offer 128GB and 256GB unified memory options. The M2 chip added a 24GB memory option so it is possible that Apple could offer even larger 192GB and 384GB amounts of unified memory with the new Mac Pro.
The Mac Pro currently starts at $5,999, with the potential to price it up to over $52,000 in custom configurations. The base model Apple silicon Mac Pro with the M2 Ultra is almost certain to cost more than the high-end Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra, which starts at $3,999. It seems likely that the new base model Mac Pro will continue to start at a price point similar to the current model, but there is no further information about pricing at this time.
Beyond its basic specifications, little is currently known about the device's design, ports, and modularity. Apple is expected to introduce the Apple silicon Mac Pro later this year, and it could be followed by a "Pro" version of the Studio Display with a mini-LED panel and support for ProMotion in early 2023. For more information about the new Mac Pro, see our detailed guide.
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