No “Extreme” chip coming to Mac Pro?

Cmaier

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Gurman is reporting that there won’t be an Extreme chip, but the Mac Pro will allow expandable memory.

 

dada_dave

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How much credence do we give this rumor? It’s not unbelievable, but it would be disappointing.

Edit: Although the expandable memory part would be nice. Though I don’t see how it could be accomplished - at least not without complications.
 
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Citysnaps

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Would be nice if internal expansion was for more than just expandable memory (ie, PCIe). Especially if a rack-mount version will again be offered.
 
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Cmaier

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Something seems to have gone wrong with the packaging technology, if true.
 

Jimmyjames

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This is the kind of thing I was concerned about when the transition was announced. I wonder if it’s a temporary problem, or have they just decided not to compete on the high end. Hopefully the former.
 

Cmaier

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This is the kind of thing I was concerned about when the transition was announced. I wonder if it’s a temporary problem, or have they just decided not to compete on the high end. Hopefully the former.

I suspect it’s a combination. Something went wrong, and given the niche nature of the market they decided to punt for now. I would bet they’ll try again, but not until the next generation CPU (assuming any of this is true).
 

Jimmyjames

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I suspect it’s a combination. Something went wrong, and given the niche nature of the market they decided to punt for now. I would bet they’ll try again, but not until the next generation CPU (assuming any of this is true).
Yeah, I’ve been having doubts about the last couple of Gurman’s leaks. Both this and the side loading story seem unlikely. We’ll see I guess.
 

dada_dave

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Maybe Apple expected to be on the 3nm process for the intro of the ASi Mac Pro...?
Yeah that’s a possibility though even the most optimistic of predictions of when 3nm would be available, their claim of a two year transition would’ve still not worked.
 

leman

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I find this believable. It's not like an M2 Extreme is going to look good next to Genoa or Saphire Rapids, and it won't Abel to compete with high-end GPUs either. Who would buy an extremely expensive underperforming tower? If Apple is serious about desktop they have to invest into vertical scaling and scaling in general. There is also still a severe software issue. You probably don't need a Mac Pro for photo or even video editing, the Studio does it all beautifully. And Apple Silicon currently underperforms for 3D rendering — a common market for larger workstations. What's left for the Mac Pro? Software development? Massive overkill. Number crunching? Not the best use of the money. GPU processing or ML work? Not mature or fast enough...

So yeah, from how things are going now, Apple either has to recalibrate their approach and come up with more powerful/scalable chips, or move to mobile only.
 

Andropov

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I find this believable. It's not like an M2 Extreme is going to look good next to Genoa or Saphire Rapids, and it won't Abel to compete with high-end GPUs either. Who would buy an extremely expensive underperforming tower? If Apple is serious about desktop they have to invest into vertical scaling and scaling in general. There is also still a severe software issue. You probably don't need a Mac Pro for photo or even video editing, the Studio does it all beautifully. And Apple Silicon currently underperforms for 3D rendering — a common market for larger workstations. What's left for the Mac Pro? Software development? Massive overkill. Number crunching? Not the best use of the money. GPU processing or ML work? Not mature or fast enough...

4x M2 Max should be fine CPU-wise. That'd be ~59,000 points multi core in Geekbench 5. The Sapphire Rapids top-of-the-line Xeon Platinum 8480 scores ~38,000 points in multicore [source]. 2x Intel Platinum 8480 is ~78,000 points in Geekbench 5 [source]. All while more than doubling the single core scores.

On the GPU front, that's a different matter.
 

leman

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4x M2 Max should be fine CPU-wise. That'd be ~59,000 points multi core in Geekbench 5. The Sapphire Rapids top-of-the-line Xeon Platinum 8480 scores ~38,000 points in multicore [source]. 2x Intel Platinum 8480 is ~78,000 points in Geekbench 5 [source]. All while more than doubling the single core scores.

I just looked at the benchmarks again and you are right. If Apple can afford to sell an M2 Extreme at around 10k it could be an interesting product CPU-wise. Very niche though. I do hope they figure out a good way of going forward, high end products are important for brand identity, even if they are not going to be profitable per se.
 

Andropov

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I just looked at the benchmarks again and you are right. If Apple can afford to sell an M2 Extreme at around 10k it could be an interesting product CPU-wise. Very niche though. I do hope they figure out a good way of going forward, high end products are important for brand identity, even if they are not going to be profitable per se.
The main issue I see here is that if the CPU is its main selling point, having a 128 core GPU as part of a massive package of 4 interconnected dies is... suboptimal. Just as a reminder, the M1 Max die:
M1MAX.jpg

That's a massive amount of die area dedicated to a GPU that might not even be needed. For the 2019 Intel Mac Pro you can setup a 28-core CPU with the base Radeon W5500X if CPU power is what you need. For the M2 Extreme, you're stuck with the top end GPU (except maybe versions with deactivated GPU cores) even if you don't need it.

And if GPU power is what you need, it's hard to predict how fast he M2 Extreme would be. Probably not enough to compete with NVIDIA's top end.
 

dada_dave

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I just looked at the benchmarks again and you are right. If Apple can afford to sell an M2 Extreme at around 10k it could be an interesting product CPU-wise. Very niche though. I do hope they figure out a good way of going forward, high end products are important for brand identity, even if they are not going to be profitable per se.

If it’s going to be sold at all, I’m expecting a base M2 extreme to be less than or equal to $10K starting judging by the price intervals we have so far.
 

dada_dave

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The main issue I see here is that if the CPU is its main selling point, having a 128 core GPU as part of a massive package of 4 interconnected dies is... suboptimal. Just as a reminder, the M1 Max die:

That's a massive amount of die area dedicated to a GPU that might not even be needed. For the 2019 Intel Mac Pro you can setup a 28-core CPU with the base Radeon W5500X if CPU power is what you need. For the M2 Extreme, you're stuck with the top end GPU (except maybe versions with deactivated GPU cores) even if you don't need it.

And if GPU power is what you need, it's hard to predict how fast he M2 Extreme would be. Probably not enough to compete with NVIDIA's top end.

Aye maybe that’s another reason why they might be waiting for the rumored more modular chiplet designs coming with N3? - more variety in the possibilities of offerings, more targeting. Still not as combinatorial as dGPU + CPU from multiple vendors each with massive options of course, but that’s not really needed … or wanted.
 

dada_dave

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I should note that supposedly the final Mac Pro prototype that was sent out in @Colstan ’s thread was seemingly an M2 Ultra - 2x 8 p-cores, 4 e-cores as it seems the new M2 Pro/Max chips are going to be based on. Of course that isn’t to say that prototype supports everything Gurman says here (after all no ram slots in that one, so no expandable memory) nor does it even mean it’s the only configuration as Gurman supposes. But it is interesting that it’s an Ultra. Of course allegedly the first prototype was a more “extreme” style chip with 40 cores (though now that we’re expecting the M2 Pro/Max style chips to have 4 e cores one wonders what that prototype was if it existed).
 

leman

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The main issue I see here is that if the CPU is its main selling point, having a 128 core GPU as part of a massive package of 4 interconnected dies is... suboptimal. Just as a reminder, the M1 Max die:

That's a massive amount of die area dedicated to a GPU that might not even be needed. For the 2019 Intel Mac Pro you can setup a 28-core CPU with the base Radeon W5500X if CPU power is what you need. For the M2 Extreme, you're stuck with the top end GPU (except maybe versions with deactivated GPU cores) even if you don't need it.

And if GPU power is what you need, it's hard to predict how fast he M2 Extreme would be. Probably not enough to compete with NVIDIA's top end.

An M1 die is still around 450mm2, four of those would be roughly 2000mm2, still smaller than a Threadripper. I doubt that the area is a problem per se here. It’s more that the entire infrastructure is set up around the GPU (large LLC and wide memory bus), these are all resources that the CPU doesn’t really need.

For Apple it would probably be beneficial to split the SoC into separate CPU and GPU ”extension clusters“, which would allow them to be more flexible with the final product. But who knows, its not a panacea either.
 

theorist9

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The M2 Ultra chip is destined to have some serious specifications for professional users, including up to 24 CPU cores, 76 graphics cores and the ability to top out the machine with at least 192 gigabytes of memory.... the Mac Pro is expected to rely on a new-generation M2 Ultra chip (rather than the M1 Ultra) and will retain one of its hallmark features: easy expandability for additional memory, storage and other components.
--Mark Gurman
I don't know what this means. Does the its refer to the Ultra or the Mac Pro? If the latter, is he saying that the Mac Pro will offer the same 192 GB max unified RAM that's expected for the M2 Ultra but, unlike the Studio, will have secondary RAM that is expandable beyond that?
 
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Cmaier

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I don't know what this means. Does the its refer to the Ultra or the Mac Pro? If the latter, Is he saying that the Mac Pro will offer the same 192 GB max unified RAM that's expected for the M2 Ultra but, unlike the Studio, will have secondary RAM that is expandable beyond that?
Yeah, it’s confusing.
 
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