We’re expecting big things from the newly revealed Apple M1 Ultra chip, especially as early benchmarks show how the new Apple Silicon slice snaps at the heels of AMD’s Threadripper 3990X.
As pointed out by our colleagues over at Tom’s Hardware, who have extensively tested the Threadripper 3990X, AMD’s chip scores 1,213 in the single-core test and 25,133 in the multi-core test. So going by these early benchmarks — we stress that they are early — the M1 Ultra can beat the Threadripper 3990X in the single-core score and comes very close to beating it in the multi-core score, an area where Threadripper chips excel with their mass of cores and capacity for handling multithreaded workloads.
Apple M1 Ultrahttps://t.co/JQZBk7lDa1March 8, 2022
What’s particularly impressive here is that the M1 Ultra only has 20 cores in comparison to the 64 Zen 2 cores the Threadripper chip sports. The M1 Ultra also delivers all this power from an advertised power consumption of 60 watts, whereas AMD’s chip has a thermal design power (TDP) of 280W; that’s a huge difference. Clearly Apple’s work on chip performance efficiency is reaping benefits here.
So what does all this mean for the average user of Apple machines? Well it’s a clear indicator that the Apple Mac Studio, which uses the M1 Ultra, will be an absolute beast when it comes to handling multithreaded workloads, say compiling code or carrying out intensive computer-aided design (CAD) or rendering tasks.
It is worth noting that benchmarks only paint one side of the performance picture, with real-world use being the true indication of power and efficiency. But we’ve seen how well the MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip performs, so we have no reason to doubt Apple’s work with the M1 Ultra.
Slaying graphics giants
But the M1 Ultra isn't just looking to be a CPU powerhouse. Rather it’s also set to bring in some serious graphics performance, at least according to Apple.
The chip wranglers at Cupertino have the M1 Ultra’s GPU set to rival the very powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, a $1,499 graphics card aimed at professionals and people who want to flirt with gaming at 8K.
To those who are familiar with the machines found on our best gaming PCs list, this might seem like an absurd claim. But Apple is targeting professional GPU workloads, not gaming. And it also has a silicon secret weapon up its sleeve: UltraFusion.
This tech lets Apple have a 20-core CPU and a 64-core GPU on one chip by effectively combining two M1 Max chips. UltraFusion provides the connectivity between the two chips allowing for speeds of up to 2.5 TB/s of interprocessor bandwidth; that’s significantly faster than Nvidia’s SLI or AMD’s infinity Fabric tech, which provides connectivity between GPUs.
In simple terms, Apple has the M1 Ultra pegged to offer more peak GPU performance than the GeForce RTX 3090 while consuming less power — in some cases 200 watts less. So in workloads that prioritize GPU power, the M1 Ultra could be a new performance king. But again, don’t expect this to translate into some form of Mac gaming beast. The M1 Ultra may be a monster, but many of the best PC games don't run natively on Macs, and those that do aren't always optimized for Apple silicon the way they are for Nvidia, AMD and Intel chips.
However, we’ll reserve judgement until we get to test the Mac Studio and the M1 Ultra in it. But so far all signs are pointing toward Apple having one of the most powerful chips of 2022.
Get the BEST of Tom’s Guide daily right in your inbox: Sign up now!
Upgrade your life with the Tom’s Guide newsletter. Subscribe now for a daily dose of the biggest tech news, lifestyle hacks and hottest deals. Elevate your everyday with our curated analysis and be the first to know about cutting-edge gadgets.
Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.