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Apple has reportedly pushed back its plan of making an “extreme” version of the M-series silicon, which was supposed to power the next-gen Mac Pro. Tentatively going by the name M1 or M2 Extreme, the processor was essentially poised to be a four times as powerful as the M1 Max processor, and twice as mighty as the beastly M1 Ultra fitted inside the Mac Studio.
The company was originally supposed to launch the M1 Extreme processor with an updated Mac Pro, effectively putting an end to the era of Intel-powered Macs. But that didn’t happen, and the company shifted to the M2 series processors. With that happening, we started hearing chatter that may be the M2 Extreme will make its debut by the end of 2022 buzzing inside the Mac Pro, which is long overdue for an upgrade.
Apple was reportedly planning to cram as many as 48 CPU cores and a massive 152 GPU cores on the M2 Extreme silicon. For comparison, AMD’s most powerful offering — the Threadripper 3990X — comes armed with 64 CPU cores and 128 threads. But if the M1 Ultra is anything to go by, its Extreme sibling would’ve set the benchmarks on fire.
The next Mac Pro goes the Mac Studio way
However, the M2 Extreme plans have been put on cold ice, reportedly. According to Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, Apple “has likely scrapped that higher-end configuration.” The company decided to do so because of the complexity involved in making such a powerful processor. Apple supposedly wants to divert its chipmaking resources in the direction of more mainstream processors that sell in higher volumes.
The other reason cited in the report is the high cost of making the “Extreme” chip, which essentially amounts to four M1 Max processors cobbled together. Gurman’s rough estimates put the price of an M2 Extreme-powered Mac in the $10,000 price bracket. That’s a lot of money to spend on a niche machine targeted solely at creative professionals without any serious gaming benefits to boot.
Gurman speculates that the M2 Extreme-fuelled Mac Pro upgrade was shaping up to be a “niche product that likely isn’t worth the development costs, engineering resources and production bandwidth it would require.” Instead, Apple has reportedly decided to put an M2 Ultra chip inside the next-gen Mac Pro, essentially putting it in the same computing firepower ballpark as the current-get Mac Studio.