As Apple rumors go, the long-rumored 15-inch MacBook Air sounds almost certain to be announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference next week. But as Apple’s plans take shape, it also seems possible that we’ll see new Mac desktops featuring high-end M2 Max and M2 Ultra chips.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman believes that these new chips are most likely to power an updated range of Mac Studio desktops, a little over a year after the first Studios were initially introduced. As recently as a few months ago, Gurman speculated that the M2 generation would skip over the Mac Studio entirely and that Apple would instead opt to use the newer chips as a selling point for a new Apple Silicon Mac Pro.
But that version of reality may not come to pass. Gurman says these new Mac models have Mac14,3 and Mac14,4 model identifiers, while the Mac Pro that Apple is testing internally is identified as Mac14,8. (We initially thought these no-adjective model identifiers were a throwback to the PowerPC days, but the reality is more boring; Apple just isn’t using unique Mac names in model identifiers anymore, possibly to combat leaks and the speculation that arises when new IDs break cover.)
We’ve already seen the M2 Max in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but the M2 Ultra would be brand new. It’s a predictable upgrade to the current M1 Ultra: Gurman says the M2 Ultra will have 16 performance cores and eight efficiency cores (instead of four in the M1 Ultra), up to 76 GPU cores (up from a max of 48), and up to 192GB of RAM (up from 128GB). All M2 chips have used more efficiency cores, more GPU cores, and a higher maximum RAM ceiling compared to their M1 predecessors.
Gurman also noted earlier this week that Apple was planning to accept trade-ins of current M1-based Mac Studio models starting next week. This isn’t always a sign that Apple is planning a direct replacement for an older model, but taken together with the other rumors, it makes a new pair of Studio desktops look even more likely.
Whether we’ll find out more about the long-delayed Apple Silicon Mac Pro at WWDC is anyone’s guess. The Mac Pro is the only Intel Mac that Apple still sells, pushing the company’s original two-year processor transition timeline out into its third year (and counting). Apple Silicon chips so far have been designed with tightly integrated memory and GPUs that could limit a new Mac Pro’s expandability, making it harder to justify the high-end desktop’s continued existence.