Apple launches M2 Ultra chip to bolster position in semiconductors

M2 Ultra is the largest and most capable chip Apple has ever created, the company said

Apple chief executive Tim Cook announces the latest chip at the Worldwide Developers Conference at Apple Park in Cupertino, California. EPA
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Apple, which released its M1 chips in November 2020 to reduce its reliance on other chip makers such as Intel, launched its latest M2 Ultra chip on Monday to strengthen its position in the semiconductor industry.

Apple’s first in-house M1 chip was followed by the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in October 2021. In March and June last year, Apple unveiled M1 Ultra and M2 chips.

M2 Ultra is the largest and most capable chip Apple has ever created, the company said.

It is built using a second-generation, five-nanometre process and uses Apple’s technology to connect the die of two chips, doubling the performance.

It comes with 134 billion transistors — 20 billion more than M1 Ultra — and supports up to 192GB of memory capacity, which is 50 per cent more than M1 Ultra.

“M2 Ultra delivers astonishing performance and capabilities for our pro users’ most demanding workflows, while maintaining Apple silicon’s industry-leading power efficiency,” said Johny Srouji, senior vice president of hardware technology.

“With huge performance gains in the CPU [central processing unit], GPU [graphics processing unit], and neural engine, combined with massive memory bandwidth.

"M2 Ultra is the world’s most powerful chip ever created for a personal computer."

M2 Ultra features a powerful CPU that is 20 per cent faster than M1 Ultra, a larger GPU that is up to 30 per cent faster, and a neural engine that’s up to 40 per cent faster.

The global semiconductor market, which was upended by Covid-induced supply chain problems in the past few years, is projected to drop 3.6 per cent in revenue in 2023 on poor consumer demand and a weakening economy, a report has found.

Semiconductor revenue is forecast to reach $596 billion in 2023, down from the previous prediction of $623 billion, US research company Gartner said.

Semiconductors are important parts in electronic devices and, particularly, in electric and self-driving vehicles.

They are used to manage functions such as navigation and parking, and for monitoring engine performance.

Last month, the UK government unveiled a £1 billion ($1.24 billion), 20-year investment strategy into semiconductors, aimed at diversifying the supply chain in an attempt to enhance security.

In March, Canada announced a C$36 million ($26 million) contribution to help boost the country's supply of semiconductor products and services.

Apple said its M2 Ultra chip is power-efficient and eco-friendly.

“Apple is carbon neutral for global corporate operations, and by 2030, plans to have net-zero climate impact across the entire business," it said.

"This also means that every chip Apple creates, from design to manufacturing, will be 100 per cent carbon-neutral."

Updated: June 06, 2023, 12:32 AM