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Apple Peek Performance: Mac Studio, M1 Ultra, iPhone SE

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at Apple's Peek Performance event.

Apple kicked off its Peek Performance event with broad updates across its product lines, spanning the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV+. The company even announced new products for the Mac family. These latest additions include the powerful new Mac Studio, a gorgeous Studio Display, and a new M1 Ultra processor that CEO Tim Cook and his team claimed delivers breathtaking performance.

“We’ve been working hard to deliver new products and services that help you stay connected, productive, and entertained,” Cook said as he kicked off the keynote, which highlights the performance theme Apple wove into all of its product updates and announcements today.

Mac Studio and Studio Display

A person works at a station equipped with the all new Mac Studio and Studio Display.

“Today, we’re going to focus on the place where so many people create their life’s best work: The Studio,” Apple said in highlighting the new home of the M1 Ultra chipset.

Powered by the company’s newest and most powerful silicon, the M1 Ultra, Apple announced a new Mac Studio desktop, as well as a Studio Display.

“A studio is where creators, like designers, scientists, and developers, change the world,” the company said in explaining the naming behind the Studio Mac. “Whether it’s in a home or an office, each studio is unique, customized with the tools that complete the user’s workflow. And for many, the Mac plays a pivotal role in this space.”

The Mac Studio can be configured either with the same M1 Max processor that was first introduced in the redesigned MacBook Pro or the new M1 Ultra CPU, which delivers even faster processing and graphics performance. While performance is a central theme to the Studio family, Apple is also making a big push around the theme of connectivity and designing a modular system for expandability, which should help the Studio better compete against competing PC workstations.

While it is shaped like a Mac mini, the Studio is a bit taller. It has a footprint of 7.7 x 7.7 inches and a height of 3.7 inches, and like other Apple designs, is machined from a single block of aluminum.

“With the power and efficiency of Apple silicone, we were able to totally reimagine what a high-performance desktop could look like,” Apple said of the desktop’s design.

Thermals are handled by a double-sided blower that moves over the custom circular supply and the chip’s thermal modules, Apple said. Sound of the fan is so minimal that you’ll barely hear it.

The Apple Mac Studio unveiling focused on connectivity options.

Connectivity is handled through four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 10-gig Ethernet port, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, and pro audio jack. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 are built in as well, Apple said. On the front, there are two USB-C ports on the M1 Max version. On M1 Ultra systems, these ports are Thunderbolt 4. There is a memory card reader as well.

You can configure your studio with up to four Pro Display XDR displays and a 4K TV, Apple said, giving you flexibility.

You can connect up to five displays to the Mac Studio.

With the Mac Studio, Apple is really pushing better performance to address the needs of creatives who want something faster than the current Mac mini or MacBook Pro.

Apple claims that the base M1 Max Mac Studio is up to 2.5 times faster than the 27-inch iPad, and the new desktop even outperforms the current Intel-powered Mac Pro with a 16-core Xeon processor by up to 50%. Graphics gets a 3.4x boost on the Studio compared to the 27-inch iMac, and Apple said GPU performance on the Studio is better than on the Mac Pro.

With the faster M1 Ultra chipset, the performance gap widens further. The Mac Studio is up to 3.8x faster than the 27-inch iMac and 90% faster than the Mac Pro with 16-core Xeon. Compared to the beastly 28-core Mac Pro model, the Studio still outguns its competitor by 60%. GPU performance is up to 80% faster, Apple said.

A woman speaks about the Mac Studio's performance during its unveiling at Apple's Peek Performance event.

That’s because Apple is offering the Studio with 64GB of unified memory to start — compared to 48GB of video memory on competing workstations. The amount of memory increases to 128GB on the more powerful M1 Ultra configuration.

“No other graphics card comes close,” Apple said. “And when it comes to storage, the SSD and Mac studio delivers up to a superfast 7.4 gigabytes per second of performance and up to eight terabytes capacity.”

The desktop can also play up to 18 streams of 8K video.

With Apple’s 27-inch iMac comparisons, the company is positioning the Mac Studio — and the Studio Display — as the logical upgrade.

“There’s never been a desktop like it,” Apple said of the performance of the Mac Studio. The desktop will use 1,000 kilowatt-hours less energy than a high-end PC desktop, making it very power efficient.

“Mac Studio will supercharge the workplace with breathtaking performance,” Apple added.

An overview of the Mac Studio's specs at Apple's Peek Performance event.

Mac Studio M1 Max starts at $1,999, while the M1 Ultra version starts at $3,999. Pre-orders start today, and the desktop will be available on March 18, Apple said.

To round out the ultimate Studio experience, Apple also unveiled a new Studio Display, which the company claims to be “in a class of its own” thanks a “gorgeous screen” that measures 27 inches.

“It’s loaded with incredible features that no other desktop display can deliver,” Apple said of the 5K Retina screen that supports 600 nits of brightness, True Tone, and the P3 wide gamut for accurate colors.

It has an all-screen design with narrow borders, an all-aluminum enclosure with a slim profile, and a stand that tilts. There are optional Vesa mounts, as well as a tilt-and-raise stand.

The Mac Studio comes with different stand options.

The Studio features a 27-inch display with 14.7 million pixels for 218 pixels per inch of picture clarity. A nano texture glass option also helps minimize glare.

“Another thing that makes studio display unique is the fact that it actually has an A 13 bionic chip inside, which enables it to deliver amazing experiences with the highly advanced camera and audio system,” Apple said.

It has a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera built into the top bezel that supports Center Stage, a three-microphone array for clear calls, and a high-fidelity six-speaker sound system with four force-canceling woofers and two high performance tweeters.

“These are by far the highest-fidelity speakers we’ve ever created for the Mac, and this is the best combination of camera and audio ever in a desktop display,” Apple said.

There are three USB-C ports and one Thunderbolt port on the rear. The Thunderbolt port delivers 96W of power to charge a connected MacBook. You can connect up to three Studio Displays to a MacBook Pro, Apple said.

The Apple Studio Display starts at $1,599 and pre-orders start today.

Apple also teased that there is one more Mac desktop that needs updating to its custom silicon — the Mac Pro. However, that update, according to Apple, is for another day.

M1 Ultra silicon

Apple's M1 processor family.

The amazing performance of the Mac Studio is achieved by Apple’s latest addition to its custom silicon lineup, the new M1 Ultra, which takes performance of the M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max to a whole new level.

“We transitioned nearly every product in the Mac lineup to Apple silicon and each of these products has blown away users and shocked the PC industry,” Apple said. With the M1 Ultra, Apple says it is extending its performance leadership further.

“M1 Ultra is the next breakthrough for Apple silicon,” the company said, highlighting the performance and power efficiency of its chip family.

Apple highlighted the specs of its M1 Ultra chip at its Peek Performance event.

Rather than connecting two chips on the motherboard, which comes with its own compromises, Apple’s M1 Ultra starts with the M1 Max. The Max chip has a groundbreaking die-to-die interconnect technology, allowing Apple to connect and fuse the two die together. The company calls this process “Ultrafusion.”

“The Ultrafusion architecture uses a silicon interposer that has twice the connection density of any technology available,” Apple explained of the M1 Ultra’s design. “It connects over 10,000 signals and provides an enormous 2.5 terabyte per second of low latency interprocessor bandwidth between the two die using very little power.”

This gives the M1 Ultra’s interconnect four times the bandwidth of leading competitors, Apple said.

“The result is an SoC with blazing performance with low latency, massive bandwidth, and incredible power efficiency,” Apple added.

Apple's M1 Ultra chip is created with Ultrafusion technology that uses M1 Max chips.

With two die, the memory bandwidth is also increased to 800 gigabyte per second, more than 10 times on the latest PC. There’s 128GB of unified memory.

The M1 Ultra has 140 billion transistors, which is seven times what is available on the M1 and the most ever one a PC chipset.

It also has a 64-core GPU and 20-core CPU with 16 high-performance cores and four efficiency cores along with a 64-core GPU, which makes it nearly eight times faster than the M1. The Ultra also has 32 Neural Engine cores that can process 22 trillion operations per second for machine learning.

In terms of power consumption, Apple claims that the CPU uses 65% less power than the latest PC desktop processors. Compared to the fastest 16-core PC desktop processors, Apple said that M1 Ultra delivers 90% better performance in the same power envelope, making it very power efficient. In terms of graphics performance, M1 Ultra delivers faster performance than the highest GPU available while using 200 watts less power, according to Apple’s benchmarks.

“It’s the most powerful and capable chip ever for the personal computer,” Apple said of the M1 Ultra.

iPhone SE

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the iPhone SE 2022 at Apple's Peek Performance event.

Apple’s latest iPhone SE takes the power of the same A15 Bionic chipset that’s found on the flagship iPhone 13 series to give the company’s compact and most affordable handset serious performance.

“Bringing this level of performance to our most affordable phone is something only Apple can do,” the company said. “A15 Bionic makes nearly every experience better, from simple things like launching apps and scrolling through photos to intense workloads like processing depth information on the fly.”

This means that the new iPhone SE gets the same six-core CPU as the iPhone 13, making it 1.8 times faster than the iPhone 8. Graphics is up to 2.2 times faster than the iPhone 8.

iPhone SE 2022 specification list.

The phone has a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, and it’s available in midnight, starlight, and Product Red colors. It comes with IP67 water and dust resistance, and the design maintains the Touch ID fingerprint scanner on the front.

Faster 5G cellular connectivity is now also available on the world’s most affordable iPhone, Apple said. The phone comes with new camera innovations, including enhanced computational photography, with the A15 chipset. Apple is bringing deep fusion, smart HDR, and other A.I.-enhanced technologies to the camera system for lowlight photography, accurate skin tone, and better photos.

The new iPhone SE starts at just $429. Pre-0rders start Friday, and the phone will be available on March 18.

“The new iPhone SE brings the advanced features and exceptional performance of A15 to our most affordable iPhone,” Cook said of the device.

In addition to introducing its third-generation iPhone SE handset, Apple also announced two new green colors to the iPhone 13 family.

The standard iPhone 13 is now available in a bold new green hue, while the iPhone 13 Pro gets a new Alpine Green shade.

Pre-orders of the new iPhone colors start this Friday, and the models will be available on March 18.

iPad Air with M1 and 5G

The iPad Air 5 was announced at Apple's Peek performance event.

“We love iPad Air for being incredibly thin, light, and powerful,” Cook said. “And now we’re taking its performance to the next level.”

The new iPad Air is now supercharged with the power of Apple silicon, Apple claimed of the latest update. The company is bringing its M1 chipset to the iPad Air, which is the same chip on the iPad Pro. The chipset delivers 60% better performance than the prior iPad Air’s A14 chipset.

“The new Air is up to 2x faster than the bestselling Windows laptop in its price range,” Apple boasted of the performance boost.

This turns the iPad Air into a machine learning and gaming powerhouse.

The iPad Air 5 was announced at Apple's Peek performance event and comes in several color options.
Apple

Another big update for the iPad Air is the front-facing camera, which now supports Center Stage with its 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. The iPad Air is also getting an update to support 5G cellular data.

The iPad Air has an improved USB-C port for faster file transfers, and accessories include the second-gen Apple Pencil, a keyboard folio, and Apple’s Magic Keyboard with the trackpad built-in.

Prices start at $599, and it will be available in both 5G cellular and Wi-Fi models, Apple said. Capacities include either 64GB or 256GB of storage, and pre-orders begin Friday, with shipments beginning on March 18.

Apple TV+ update

Apple baseball on Apple TV+.

As part of Apple’s TV+ service expansion, the company announced Friday Night Baseball on its service.

“This is going to be the best way to watch baseball on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and anywhere that Apple TV+ is available,” Cook said.

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