Apple M3 Ultra chip
The M3 Ultra could be the high-performance chip that so many professionals need.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple’s upcoming M3 Ultra chip won’t consist of two M3 Max processors merged together, according to information leaking out of Cupertino. The change from its predecessors would free up designers to make the next-gen Apple silicon even more powerful.

It even raises the possibility of an M3 Extreme, a workstation-level processor that would give the Mac Pro a reason to exist.

M3 Ultra redesign could bring big performance gains

Apple currently makes four types of its M-series processors: a basic model, plus Pro, Max and Ultra variants. Each builds on the one below, adding extra CPU and GPU cores.

The Ultra is the top of the line, and is made of two Max chips grafted together with an UltraFusion connector.

But that might change with the M3 series. Vadim Yuryev from YouTube channel Max Tech called attention Wednesday to a leak indicating that M3 Max will not come with the UltraFusion connector. Which apparently means the M3 Ultra won’t be a merger of two of these processors.

This would allow significant changes. “M3 Ultra will likely no longer include Efficiency cores,” points out Yuryev in a series of predictions about the chip that’s expected to launch in mid-2024.

The M series utilizes Efficiency cores to reduce the drain on MacBook batteries. However, Apple only puts the Ultra versions in desktop computers, which have few power limitations.

Yuryev also predicts another change. “M3 Ultra will come with more P [Performance] cores and GPU cores without being limited to exactly 2x more cores than what you get with the Max chips. Apple can finetune the core counts,” he wrote.

More than 2X the performance

While the M2 Ultra consists of two M2 Max chips grafted together, the combination doesn’t run twice as fast. Benchmark tests show that it offers just slighly better performance than a single M2 Max for general tasks, and is 43% faster at GPU-intensive tasks.

The modest performance differences aren’t surprising. M2 Ultra packs a total of 24 CPU cores and 60 GPU cores, while the best M2 Max comes with 16 CPU cores and 40 GPU cores.

An M3 Ultra without unnecessary Efficiency cores and with all the Performance cores Apple can pack in could see a significant jump in performance over its predecessor.

M3 Ultra or Extreme could power a beast of a Mac Pro workstation

A revamped M3 Ultra might not be the end of the story. Apple reportedly was working on an Extreme variant for the M series, an even more powerful version. However, Apple canceled the Extreme variant long before its release. A revamp of Apple’s processor lineup might bring it back.

“The UltraFusion interconnect can now be included on the M3 Ultra die instead of the Max die,” Yuryev points out. And he goes on to theorize, “The M3 Extreme chip will be made out of 2x M3 Ultra dies, which is GREAT news for performance scaling.”

It’s also good news for those hoping the high-end Mac Pro will once again become a truly powerful macOS workstation. The 2023 Mac Pro comes with an M2 Ultra, but so does the Mac Studio. Both offer essentially equal performance, so the only real differences are PCI Express Gen 4 slots in the Mac Pro and $3,000 added to the price tag. (See our buying guide: Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro: Which is right for you?)

A Mac Pro running a massive M3 Extreme might be a desktop worth purchasing. That’s assuming there’s not enough room for the new top-of-the line processor in the relatively svelte Mac Studio.

But don’t get your hopes up too far. “There’s a chance Apple skips this chip gen and waits for the M4 chip line to release the M4 Extreme,” said Yuryev.

We’ll likely find out for sure at WWDC24 in June. Apple unveiled the latest Mac Pro and Mac Studio with M2 Ultra processors at last year’s big developer conference. Their M3-based successors might show up on the agenda for this year’s event as well. That’s what the rumors say, anyway.

[ For more curated Apple news, check out the main news page here]

The post Redesign could give Apple M3 Ultra processor wicked performance boost first appeared on

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