While the iPhone SE and iPad Air updates were modest at best, Apple’s computer-oriented announcements were far more substantial. Apple kicked the event off by showcasing its new M1 Ultra chipset and then showed off the device it will first be available in, the Mac Studio. Paired with the new Mac Studio desktop is the Studio Display, a new 27” 5K display that’s effectively an iMac without the internals.
The new M1 Ultra is Apple’s latest—and last—chipset in Apple’s M1 lineup, which also includes the M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max. While Apple’s M1 Max, which debuted in the latest MacBook Pro models, was about as packed as you can make a chipset with current technologies, Apple cleverly hid an integrated connection on the circuit board that enabled it to more or less combine two M1 Max chipsets into a single larger, and more powerful, chipset.
Apple calls this technology ‘UltraFusion’ and as you might expect by doubling up a pair of identical chipsets, the 5nm-process M1 Ultra doubles nearly all of the performance and capabilities of the M1 Max. Specifically, the M1 Ultra, which has 114 billion transistors, has a memory bandwidth of 800GB/s, supports up to 128GB of unified memory and has a silicon interposer with 2.5TB/s interprocessor bandwidth.
All of this is done with the help of a 20-core CPU, up to a 64-core GPU and a 32-core neural engine. As with the M1 Max, the M1 Ultra features hardware-level ProRes encoding and decoding capabilities, which as you’ll see below is quite mindblowing.
What good is a new chipset if you don’t have a computer to put it inside of? Thankfully, Apple has that covered with its new Mac Studio, a compact desktop computer that looks like a beefed-up Mac Mini computer with the performance capabilities of its much larger Mac Pro computer.
The Mac Studio will be available in two varieties: one powered by Apple’s M1 MAx chipset and one powered by the new M1 Ultra chipset. As noted above, you can expect the M1 Ultra model to be roughly twice as fast across the board as the M1 Max unit. Apple says the Mac Studio can power up to four Pro Display XDR monitors and a 4K display at a time for a total of over 90 million pixels. Apple also provided the frankly ridiculous stat that the Mac Studio will be capable of playing up to 18 streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at once (that’s four videos on each of the four displays and two on the 4K TV if you choose to take that very expensive route).
While Apple’s M1 chipsets are known for their thermal efficiency, things can still get hot inside such a compact form factor. So, to keep the chips from performing at an optimal temperature, Apple designed a custom internal power supply that works alongside a pair of fans to draw in air from the perforated bottom of the Mac Studio and pull it across the internals before directing it out of the rear grill, which features over 2,000 ‘precision-drilled’ holes.
The device is constructed of aluminum and measures just 7.7” long and wide and 3.7” tall, making it just a bit larger than two M1 Mac Minis stacked atop one another. On the front of the device is an SD card reader (SD 4.0) and a pair of ports. On the M1 Max model, the ports are USB-C (10GB/s) while on the M1 Ultra model, the two ports are Thunderbolt 4 (40GB/s).
On the rear of the Mac Studio is a power adapter, four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 10GB Ethernet connection, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port and a 3.5mm audio jack. The device is also equipped with Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 and will be avaialble with up to 8TB of internal SSD storage.
The Mac Studio with an M1 Max chipset will start at $1,999 with 32GB of unified memory and 512GB of internal SSD storage. The Mac Studio with the new M1 Ultra chipset will start at $3,999 with 64GB of unified memory and 1TB of SSD storage.
To pair with the new Mac Studios, Apple also unveiled the new Studio Display. While it may be the spiritual successor to the old Thunderbolt Cinema Display, it bears a closer resemblance to Apple’s new ultra-thin iMac models and looks like a Pro Display XDR went on a diet.
The 5K display features a 27” active area with 14.7 million pixels for a 218ppi density. Apple says it offers up to 600 nits of brightness and is caable of displaying over a billion colors with P3 wide gamut color support. The deisplay will also have Apple’s True Tone feature and comes with an anti-reflective coating. Should the basic anti-reflective coating not be enough, Apple is offering it with a nano texture glass option, seemingly identical to that offered on the company’s Pro Display XDR.
Inside the montior is Apple’s A13 Bionic chip, which helps to power all the features, including the built-in 12MP FaceTime camera with Center Stage support. Apple has also added a triple-microphone array and a six-speaker sound system that supports Spatial Audio.
|Three Studio Displays hooked up to a Mac Studio.|
Unlike the Pro Display XDR, the Studio Display comes with a basic stand (similar, if not identical, to the one found on its new M1 iMacs), but will also work with the $999 tilt and height adjustable stand that debuted with the Pro Display XDR, as well as a proprietary VESA mount adapter.
The Studio Display is available to pre-order starting today for $1,599. It will be available to purchase starting March 18th.