Apple M2 Ultra and Extreme Design

dada_dave

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Here are Hector Martin’s deductions after studying the M2 Max - very interesting!

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dada_dave

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Oh and I know this shocking but this would make some of Gurman’s predictions to be likely wrong again: e.g. his predictions that there will be no special chip for the Mac Pro, no new Mac Studio, etc … Now maybe the AICv3 driver and APCIe-GP won’t be used until much later and Apple is just experimenting for now, but I would say Gurman’s predictions about Apple’s chip plans, just like with the M1 Extreme, are simply wrong.
 
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Andropov

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Hm, that's interesting. If a M2 Ultra is coming, I'd expect it to launch before the M3 is released. The M3 should be released by November 2023 at the latest. September is the iPhone focused event. So that'd only leave the WWDC for the M2 Ultra to be released.
 

dada_dave

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Hm, that's interesting. If a M2 Ultra is coming, I'd expect it to launch before the M3 is released. The M3 should be released by November 2023 at the latest. September is the iPhone focused event. So that'd only leave the WWDC for the M2 Ultra to be released.
Apple also has a Spring event to release stuff. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
 

Cmaier

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I didn’t realize Martin is on mastodon, so bonus points for that, too.
 

dada_dave

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I didn’t realize Martin is on mastodon, so bonus points for that, too.
Aye he switched over pretty early and nuked his Twitter soon after. LGBTQ rights are very important to him (and more than one of his team/extended developer group are themselves T) so Elon’s stances on that which underlies some of the changes to Twitter, especially moderation and safety, were big drivers of Hector leaving.
 

leman

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Things shaping up to be interesting! Still, let's not read too much into any of this. AlCv3 could be for M3 after all. And I don't think he presents any evidence that AlCv3 will support more dies — it's just a driver string.
 

dada_dave

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Things shaping up to be interesting! Still, let's not read too much into any of this. AlCv3 could be for M3 after all. And I don't think he presents any evidence that AlCv3 will support more dies — it's just a driver string.
Absolutely. However, I should remark that the v2 in the AICv2 driver is not related to the 2 in the M2 chip. The M1 also used AICv2. So it’s true that AICv3 doesn’t necessarily point to M2 or M3. Further, while we don’t know the properties of AICv3 it’s a decent bet that a new driver indicates new or different capabilities. So we don’t know when a chip using AICv3 drivers or general purpose PCIe lanes will be available. But contrary to some rumors, one is seemingly being planned and it’s a good bet that these drivers represent something with expanded and/or new capabilities.
 
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leman

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Absolutely. However, I should remark that the v2 in the AICv2 driver is not related to the 2 in the M2 chip. The M1 also used AICv2. So AICv3 doesn’t necessarily point to M2 or M3. Further, while we don’t know the properties of AICv3 it’s a decent bet that a new driver indicates new or different capabilities. So we don’t know when a chip using AICv3 drivers or general purpose PCIe lanes will be available. But contrary to some rumors, one is seemingly being planned.

It’s also worth noting that Apple has a bunch of very recent patents describing a new on-chip networks and interrupt handling protocols. I was quite convinced that they would be already used in M2 Pro/Max given how much faster these chips are on complex workloads, but maybe it’s M3 technology after all? Too much guesswork, not enough facts…
 

Cmaier

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The thing I read seemed to be saying N3E would be targeting the iPhone 14 Pro models, so perhaps N3B is largely destined for the mainline iPhones (Pros might need more E-ness due to being built for heavier loading).
Given that N3B masks don’t work on N3E, possible that lots changes even in individual blocks.
 

Yoused

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China Times Text (auto-translate) said:
The market situation of the mobile phone market will not begin to recover until the second half of this year at the earliest, so that large mobile phone chip manufacturers will generally bet heavily on 2024. Among them, the new products launched by Mechel and Qualcomm in the second half of this year adopt TSMC's 4nm process, and only Apple enters separately. The 3nm generation is equipped with the iPhone 15 series in the second half of this year, ahead of other mobile phone chip manufacturers. The legal person said that Apple's new MacBook Air, iPad Air/Pro and other product lines are also expected to be mass-produced by TSMC's 3nm N3E process. The products are expected to be unveiled in the second half of this year or the first half of next year, so that Apple will continue to be the largest customer of TSMC. .

TSMC will hold a conference on the 20th, and the OEM price of Apple's 3nm process has received a lot of attention. The representative pointed out that after the consumer market began to cool down significantly in the second half of last year, smartphones also faced a trend of demand decline at the same time, making the overall smartphone supply chain face a crisis of high inventory. It is even more rumored in the industry that when a mobile phone chip factory in the non-Apple camp was in the third quarter of last For a long time, the momentum has also declined significantly. At the same time, it was also decided that the new chip launched in the second half of this year will continue to use the TSMC 4nm process.

It is rumored in the supply chain that the new mobile phone chips launched by Qualcomm and Channel will continue to be mass-produced by TSMC's 4nm process in the second half of this year. However, because the computing core will use the ARM new generation of product line, the computing capacity will continue to be improved. As for the TSMC's 3nm process The process will be used to mass-produce new chips.

Although Apple was also affected by the cooling consumer market, iPhone revenue decreased by 8.2% in the fourth quarter of last year, becoming Apple's first iPhone revenue decline in seven years. However, Apple did not stop the process because of this.

The industry pointed out that Apple has contracted almost all the 3nm process production capacity of TSMC this year, and it is expected to enter trial production at the end of the second quarter of this year. The third quarter will start volume production. The goal is to prepare to sprint the iPhone 15 new series smartphone shipment in the second half of this year, becoming the only manufacturer of the world's three major mobile phone chip factories to move forward to the 3nm process, and the process is leading the group.
source (in Chinese)
 

Nycturne

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What I hope to see at WWDC 2023:
  • ASi Mac Pro - 7,1-style chassis w/rackmount option
  • M3 Ultra / M3 Extreme SoC options
  • N3B process / A17 core designs
  • Hardware ray-tracing
  • Possible ASi (GP)GPU(s)
Reasonable / Preposterous...?!?

  • Mac Pro? They’d better be getting something ready to announce. The masses are getting restless.
    • Same goes for any details on expansion-based compute like (GP)GPU.
  • M3/A17-based stuff? I’d give it very low odds.
  • HW Ray Tracing? WWDC would be the place to announce it, IMO. With the functionality likely tied to the new OS version that has changes made to properly support it.
 

Cmaier

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  • Mac Pro? They’d better be getting something ready to announce. The masses are getting restless.
    • Same goes for any details on expansion-based compute like (GP)GPU.
  • M3/A17-based stuff? I’d give it very low odds.
  • HW Ray Tracing? WWDC would be the place to announce it, IMO. With the functionality likely tied to the new OS version that has changes made to properly support it.

If they don’t have something to say about ray tracing soon, then something has gone very wrong.
 

Andropov

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  • Mac Pro? They’d better be getting something ready to announce. The masses are getting restless.
  • M3/A17-based stuff? I’d give it very low odds.
  • HW Ray Tracing? WWDC would be the place to announce it, IMO. With the functionality likely tied to the new OS version that has changes made to properly support it.
Seems like they couldn't achieve the last one without announcing a SoC that's based on something different than the current generation chips have. So in order to have hardware ray tracing they'd need a Mac Pro with a non-M2 based SoC or a sneak peek to the A17/M3 hardware (assuming it has hardware RT). And the WWDC is *for sure* the moment to announce it. Hmm.
 

Cmaier

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Seems like they couldn't achieve the last one without announcing a SoC that's based on something different than the current generation chips have. So in order to have hardware ray tracing they'd need a Mac Pro with a non-M2 based SoC or a sneak peek to the A17/M3 hardware (assuming it has hardware RT). And the WWDC is *for sure* the moment to announce it. Hmm.

Do they already have ray tracing api’s (Implemented via software?)

Remember that before M1, at WWDC they hinted at GPU-related stuff (like no longer distinguishing between discrete and built-in graphics) before they revealed any of the actual architecture of M1 (at least that’s the way I remember WWDC). So we may catch hints of what’s to come without being told much of anything about the actual hardware.
 

Colstan

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Do they already have ray tracing api’s (Implemented via software?)
@leman has talked about this extensively, so that's who I'd recommend seeking an opinion concerning Apple's current ray tracing software implementations.

If they don’t have something to say about ray tracing soon, then something has gone very wrong.
There's been a lot of delays, the M2 Pro/Max being the most recent example. They were impressive, but clearly behind schedule. The presentation from Ternus and company felt like parts of a video which had been cobbled together from a larger keynote recorded in the Fall of last year, when Macs featuring those chips were originally rumored to ship.

Unless Apple has a surprise event before WWDC, which is increasingly less likely by the day, then they are going to have a lot to announce, if rumors are correct. We'll certainly have updates on all of the various operating systems, some fluff marketing about how great the various services are doing, along with expectations of the rumored AR/VR headset, a 15-inch MacBook Air, and the long expected Apple Silicon Mac Pro to finally put the nail in the Intel coffin.

As a stationary sod who only cares about desktop computers, the only two things I am interested in are the next version of macOS and the Mac Pro. I'm hoping that Apple "pulls a Snow Leopard" and makes macOS Alcatraz into a pure bug hunt. I'm sure they'll have a few fancy gewgaws to show off for the press, but I'd be most pleased if Apple hits the brakes and gives their software engineers some time to do maintenance and usability improvements on macOS.

Then there is the Mac Pro, which will be released about three years after the (quoting Tim Cook) "about two years" that the transition to Apple Silicon was originally supposed to be completed in. Although there has been a lot of speculation surrounding exotic features for this final Apple Silicon Mac, if it arrives at WWDC, then I think that signals that the 15-inch MacBook Air and Mac Pro weren't considered enough by Apple's top brass to headline an event all by their lonesome.

The AR/VR endeavor is going to eat up all of the press attention, so if the new Mac Pro isn't expected by Apple to impress, then WWDC is the perfect opportunity to bury it underneath all of the other announcements. The customers who need a Mac Pro will know if this device fits their requirements, or whether they should consider a switch to a bog standard Windows or Linux PC workstation. The mainstream tech press is going to be too busy with the AR/VR gimmick goggles to care about the last of the M2 chips inside of a recycled case from four years ago.

I know I've been captain contrarian on the Apple Silicon version of the Mac Pro, perhaps a handful of the exotic feature requests will be implemented, but the vast majority of the twilight zone laundry list isn't going to become reality, which will upset a lot of folks. However, I think a WWDC release isn't going to herald a major announcement of a hyper-modular workstation, but the burial of a low-volume side project, a mundane pedestrian update to an established product line.

...and I hope that I am wrong about that, which is what I have always said. At this point, I just want Apple to finish Tim Cook's two-year transition, now approaching year three, and simply announce the damn thing so that the recriminations can begin. I shall feast upon the tears of the MacRumors mavens, as if I were a parched man roaming the desert for sustenance, while they call for Tim Cook's head and demand another apology tour, an apology which shall never come.

Long-term, I agree with @Nycturne, that it's too soon for the M3, and that it will make an appearance later this year. If the Mac Pro is M2-based, then that's even more likely; finishing off the M2 generation and debuting the M3 would make the previous iteration look obsolete. I'm also hoping that M3 is at least based upon the A17 or preferably a more advanced variant, includes features before the A-series receives them, or even has unique capabilities that are only available for the Mac. If the M3 is simply based upon a tweaked A16, then that's going to be a massive disappointment.

Regardless, I'm looking forward to this WWDC more than usual, probably second only to the announced transition to Apple Silicon in 2020. I've been watching WWDC since 2005, so despite sounding pessimistic, I personally consider this WWDC to be highly anticipated.
 

Andropov

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Do they already have ray tracing api’s (Implemented via software?)

Remember that before M1, at WWDC they hinted at GPU-related stuff (like no longer distinguishing between discrete and built-in graphics) before they revealed any of the actual architecture of M1 (at least that’s the way I remember WWDC). So we may catch hints of what’s to come without being told much of anything about the actual hardware.
There's been an API for raytracing since 2020. A small API to provide motion blur with raytracing was added in 2021. On 2022, other minor modifications were added to the original raytracing API to make more things available to the shader when a ray hit was detected (long story short: to improve the performance of raytracing (by 10-16%, per Apple's claims) by changing the algorithm a bit to improve memory and cache locality), plus a couple other quality of life improvements to the API, and improved (faster?) acceleration structures.

But this was all relatively minor compared with everything else presented at WWDC22 related to Metal (Metal FX Upscaling, new workflows to pre-compile shaders, geometry shaders, a C++ API for Metal...), most of it unrelated to ray tracing. Nothing groundbreaking on the raytracing field that would suggest they're leveling the field for a grand reveal. Maybe on WWDC23?

Anyhow, while the exact details of the Apple Silicon architecture weren't discussed in WWDC20, they unveiled it was coming. I guess they could do the same here: announce raytracing is coming (and how the new APIs work, or how to improve the existing code to tailor it to the new hardware), and release the first commercial products that use it later. But it would be a bit awkward without something like the Developer Transition Kit they announced in WWD20 for the Apple Silicon transition.
 
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