Apple M2 Ultra: announcements, news, rumors, and all we know

With the ongoing success of Apple’s move to in-house silicon, starting with the M1 chip, Apple looks ready to fill out its M2 chip lineup with the release of the Apple M2 Ultra, a workstation-level chip expected to power the Mac Studio and possibly the new Mac Pro. 

The M2 Ultra chip is expected to be a powerhouse of a processor, taking the efficiency and performance of the Apple M2 Max chip and effectively doubling it, providing a professional desktop SoC that’s capable of tackling many of the most demanding workloads for creative professionals looking for something more than what the MacBook Pro or Mac Studio with M1 Ultra can provide.

Rumors and leaks surrounding the Apple M2 Ultra chip have been circulating for months, and as we approach WWDC 2023, the anticipation of a new chip is building to a crescendo. Whether we get that kind of payoff on June 5, 2023, remains to be seen, but given the cadence we saw with the M1 series chips and the professional nature of WWDC, this year’s conference seems like the natural place for the chip to make an appearance.

What do we expect from this next-gen workstation chip from Apple? There’s a lot we can infer from what we know, and rumors abound, so let’s dive in.

Apple M2 Ultra chip: Cut to the chase

What is it? Apple’s next generation of workstation-level Mac processorsHow much does it cost? The chip doesn’t sell on its own, it depends on the price of the device it powers.When is it out? It is expected to be announced at WWDC 2023 on June 5, 2023

(Image credit: Future)

Apple M2 Ultra: Release date

Mac Pro

(Image credit: Future)

We didn’t see a Mac Pro at last year’s WWDC, and with this year’s event right around the corner, it looks very likely that WWDC 2023 will feature new professional-grade hardware like a revamped Mac Studio and even a new Mac Pro.

With those machines, having an M2 Ultra launch alongside the new workstations makes a lot of sense, so we’re anticipating a June 5, 2023, announcement of the new SoC. When it will actually be available is another matter, though we don’t expect we’ll have to wait more than a month or so for the new devices powered by the chip to hit the market.

Apple M2 Ultra: Price

The Apple M2 Ultra won’t be sold on its own, but will come installed on select Apple devices. We expect though that the Mac Studio with M2 Ultra will sell for the same starting price as the M1 Ultra model, which has a US MSRP of $3,999 (about £3,250 / AU$6,000).

There might also be a variation on the chip since M2 Max chips, from which the M2 Ultra will be fashioned, have options for 30-core and 38-core GPUs, so we might get a 60-core GPU and 76-core GPU versions, though it’s more likely that we’ll just get the largest GPU count chip instead. If we do get a choice, however, the higher GPU core count will come with a higher cost, most likely.

Apple M2 Ultra: specs and performance

A mockup of the new Apple silicon

(Image credit: Apple / Future)

In terms of specs, we can’t say for certain, but if it’s like the M1 Ultra, then the M2 Ultra will be two M2 Max chips tied together with high-speed data interconnects so that the two chips effectively act as one.

That would give the M2 Ultra a CPU with 24 cores, and a GPU with either 60 cores or 76 cores. The M2 Max can have a max memory of 96GB, so this would presumably double to 192GB, but that number might be lower in the end, since memory doesn’t scale exactly along with the core count.

In terms of performance, that’s a harder thing to pin down without testing it for ourselves, but given the video encoding performance of the M2 Max, the rendering pipelines, and the neural engine, we expect that creative content apps like Adobe Suite, Da Vinci, Final Cut Pro, and many others will have substantially improved performance over the M2 Max and M1 Ultra.

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