Sunday, December 10, 2023

The next Mac Pro could quadruple the M2 Max chip’s power


At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2022, Apple announced there was only one more Mac yet to make the switch to Apple Silicon chips: the Mac Pro. While that product wasn’t updated at the event, the company cryptically explained with a nudge and a wink that this computing colossus was “for another day.” According to a new report, that day might not come until 2023 — but the wait could be well worth it.

In his latest Power On newsletter, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman has claimed that Apple’s internal testing of the next Mac Pro has “ramped up,” potentially implying that it could be approaching its release date.

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Intriguingly, Gurman states that Apple is testing Mac Pro machines containing chips that are “at least twice or four times as powerful as the M2 Max.” Gurman dubs these chips the M2 Ultra and M2 Extreme. While Apple has brought out a chip bearing the Ultra moniker (the M1 Ultra inside the Mac Studio), an Extreme chip would be something entirely new.

These chips could be far more powerful than anything Apple has released before. Gurman believes the Mac Pro will be offered with either a 24-core or a 48-core CPU and either a 76-core or 152-core GPU, plus up to 256GB of memory. Right now, the best Mac chip Apple sells, the souped-up M1 Ultra, comes with a 20-core CPU, a 64-core GPU, and 128GB of memory.

As the M2 Ultra and M2 Extreme would come in at the high end of Apple’s Mac chips, there’s the potential for the company’s chip lineup to become rather confusing. When the M2 Max (as in, Maximum) is actually the midrange offering, and the M2 Ultra is not actually the top-end offering that its name might imply, you get the feeling Apple’s marketing team missed the mark somewhat.

When might we see the next Mac Pro? Well, Gurman points out that Apple tends to release new Macs either in November, January, or in the spring. Yet while the rumor mill is going wild with whispers about new MacBook Pro models and an M2-equipped Mac Mini, it’s been awfully quiet about the Mac Pro, implying this machine will come later. Gurman himself is unequivocal, stating: “I don’t believe the first Apple Silicon Mac Pro will go on sale until 2023.”

That’s disappointing, especially since it means Apple would miss its goal of transitioning to Apple Silicon chips within two years, a process that began in November 2020. Still, it’s probably better to delay the Mac Pro to ensure it’s ready, rather than launching a rushed product that fails to live up to expectations.

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