“M2 Extreme” Apple Mac Pro – What You Need To Know…
Apple’s fully-fledged supercomputer, the Mac Pro, is getting a refresh in 2023 and it’ll be packing some truly insane Apple Silicon in the form of the M2 Extreme. Here’s everything you need to know…
Apple’s Mac Pro computers are designed for high-end professional users, not plebs like you and I. They cost a fortune, literally the same price as some second-hand cars when fully specced out, but they do provide unrivaled processing power for those that need it.
There has been talk of an Apple Silicon-powered Mac Pro ever since Apple made the switch to its own, custom chips. There were, of course, rumors about an M1-powered Mac Pro back in 2020/21 but that ship has now sailed. According to sources close to Apple, the company decided to wait until it had its 3nm M2 chip developed.
Why? Because with the M2 platform, specifically the new iterations like the rumored M2 Extreme, Apple will have switched from a 5nm fabrication process to a 3nm fabrication, allowing for even more transistors to be placed on the die. And more transistors mean more power and better power efficiency, so it is easy to see why Apple held off and waited.
Apple’s M2 Extreme Chip Specs
The M2 Extreme, which is destined for the Mac Pro refresh due out in 2023 will apparently feature a 48-core CPU, and a 160-core GPU, and it will support up to 384GB of system RAM. And, yes, that is a frankly baffling amount of silicon for one machine. But that’s why they call it the Mac Pro, I guess.
As for how Apple’s M2 Extreme will compare to other M2 chipsets inside Apple’s current generation of Apple Silicon remains to be seen – we only have rumors and leaks to go at the moment. But if current speculation is correct, here’s what Apple’s complete M2 chipset lineup will look like once the Apple Silicon-powered Mac Pro lands next year.
Apple’s Projected M2 Chip Road Map
- M2: 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU, up to 24GB RAM
- M2 Pro (predicted): up to 10-core CPU, up to 20-core GPU, up to 48GB RAM
- M2 Max (predicted): up to 10-core CPU, 40-core GPU, up to 96GB RAM
- M2 Ultra (predicted): 24-core CPU, 80-core GPU, up to 192GB RAM
- M2 Extreme (predicted): 48-core CPU, 160-core GPU cores, up to 384GB RAM
Apple Silicon Mac Pro Mark 2
Of course, Apple’s last Mac Pro launched in 2019, ran an Intel Xeon processor and could support up to 1.5TB of RAM. The machine started from $5999 and, fully maxed-out, topped out at $50,000. It was a monster of epic proportions and it had a price tag to match. And given the design journey Apple went on from the 2013 Mac Pro to the 2019 Mac Pro, I think the cheese grater design will almost certainly make a return.
Mac Pro (2019) Specifications
- 300 watts of power, runs fully unconstrained
- 2933MHz ECC memory, 12 DIMM slots
- 8 internal PCI slots, four double-wide slots, three single side slots
- Half-length slot populated with two TB3 ports, audio jack, two USB A ports, two 10Gb Ethernet ports
- Up to 1.5 terabytes of RAM
- Intel Xeon processor with up to 28 cores
- Apple designed a PCI connector with a second PCIe connector and power
- Multiple graphics options; can configure with options such as Radeon Pro Vega II
- Two GPUs connected via Infinity Fabric Link, 5X faster than PCI bust
- Apple built a brand new card called Afterburner for video editing, 6 billion pixels per second. 3 streams of 8K, 12 streams of 4K
Apple’s 2013 Mac Pro was massively unpopular with users; people hated the way it looked and the fact that it was near-impossible to get inside and dig around. Apple went away and thought about this and came up with the 2019 Mac Pro which, for the most part, was very well received by reviewers and critics. I don’t know how many Apple sold but it fared a damn sight better than 2013’s Mac Pro.
Apple even admitted it had made some mistakes with the 2013 Mac Pro. Here’s Phil Schiller explaining what went wrong with the 2013 Mac Pro and how these issues helped Apple develop the current 2019 Mac Pro:
With regards to the Mac Pro, we are in the process of what we call “completely rethinking the Mac Pro”. We’re working on it. We have a team working hard on it right now, and we want to architect it so that we can keep it fresh with regular improvements, and we’re committed to making it our highest-end, high-throughput desktop system, designed for our demanding pro customers.
As part of doing a new Mac Pro — it is, by definition, a modular system — we will be doing a pro display as well. Now you won’t see any of those products this year; we’re in the process of that. We think it’s really important to create something great for our pro customers who want a Mac Pro modular system, and that’ll take longer than this year to do.
In the interim, we know there are a number of customers who continue to buy our [current Mac Pros]. To be clear, our current Mac Pro has met the needs of some of our customers, and we know clearly not all of our customers. None of this is black and white, it’s a wide variety of customers. Some… it’s the kind of system they wanted; others, it was not.Source
Given all of the above, I don’t expect Apple to touch the physical design of the Mac Pro (2023) too much. It doesn’t need to; the machine is easy to interface with and has all the options pro users demand from modular systems. The only difference, really, will be that the upcoming Apple Silicon-powered Mac Pro will run on Apple’s M2 Extreme SoC, not Intel’s latest chip. Based on how well Apple Silicon has done so far, this will also likely be a welcome change too.
M2 Mac Pro Release Date
As for when the Apple Silicon-powered Mac Pro will get a release date, no one is really sure right now. Apple does have an event coming up, it’s taking place in October, but the likelihood of the Mac Pro launching is pretty slim – we could see a preview, however, so that is something.
It all depends on whether or not Apple has managed to begin production on its 3nm M2 Extreme chip with its manufacturing partner TSMC. Most sources tend to agree that the 3nm fabrication process won’t kick off in earnest until 2023 which means both the iPhone 15 and Mac Pro, as well as other Mac updates, will take advantage of the new silicon.
As of right now, the smart money is on Apple’s M2-powered Mac Pro launching and getting a release date at some point in 2023. As I said, there is a possibility of Apple demoing it at one of its events in between then but most sources seem adamant it will not be officially able to buy until 2023 – most likely the backend of 2023 too.
Richard GoodwinRichard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He has written for Den of Geek, Fortean Times, IT PRO, PC Pro, ALPHR, and many other technology sites. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.
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