The Apple M1 Max is an ARM-based system on a chip (SoC) designed by Apple. Developed for the Mac line of computers, the M1 Max and the smaller M1 Pro were introduced by Apple during a special event on October 18, 2021 for the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros. In March 2022, it also became an option for the base configuration of the Mac Studio.
The M1 Max is manufactured by TSMC to Apple's design specifications. The 432 mm2 die contains 57 billion transistors that are fabricated through a 5 nm process. Dynamic RAM (DRAM) is built onto the package and is shared with memory bandwidth of up to 400GB/s through Apple's unified memory architecture (UMA) to eliminate the need to copy data from the CPU to GPU, which are both part of the package.
The 10-core CPU (same as in the M1 Pro) contains eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores, similiar to the ARM big.LITTLE architecture used by mobile devices for power efficiency. However, the GPU contains 32 cores for graphics. In some mid-level configurations, eight of the GPU cores are deactivated, indicating the practice of binning. The Neural Engine contains 16 cores for machine learning performance. The Media Engine accelerates codec processing at low power with twice the performance of the M1 Pro. A Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 controller is included on the chip. It also includes its own Secure Enclave.
Performance and compatibility
Apple advertises up to 70% faster CPU performance than the preceding M1 and quadruple the GPU performance. Compatibility with Intel software is provided through Rosetta 2 emulation, with a reported performance hit of about 21-22%, but still exceeding the speed of Apple's Intel-based models. The first operating system from Apple to support the M1 Max and M1 Pro is macOS Monterey, which can also natively run iPadOS applications on the M1 processor family.
On March 8, 2022, Apple senior VP of hardware technologies Johny Srouji revealed that the M1 Max included a previously undisclosed interconnect feature called UltraFusion, which allowed two of them to be packaged together to create the Apple M1 Ultra, with twice the computing power.
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- Mac computers with Apple silicon at Apple Support
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- What’s the Difference Between Apple’s M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max? by Benj Edwards at How-To Geek (2021-10-18)
- M1 Pro and M1 Max: Apple silicon is kicking Intel out of the Mac computer by Stephen Shankland at CNET (2021-10-18)