Rendering on the Apple M1 Max Chip
Well, those future Apple Silicon chips are now here! Last week, Apple announced new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, powered by the new Apple M1 Pro and Apple M1 Max chips. The M1 Pro and M1 Max are are Apple's first high powered arm64-based chips targeted at professional workloads, meant for things like high-end rendering and many other creative workloads; by extension, the M1 Pro and M1 Max are also the first arm64 chips of their class in the world with wide general availability. Where the M1 Pro and M1 Max differ is in the maximum number of GPU cores and maximum amount of unified memory configurable; the M1 Pro can go up to 16 GPU cores and 32 GB of RAM, while the M1 Max can go up to 32 GPU cores and 64 GB of RAM. Outside of the GPU and maximum amount of memory, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips actually share identical CPU configurations: both of them have a 10-core arm64 CPU with 8 high-performance cores and 2 high performance cores, implementing a custom in-house Apple-designed microarchitecture. For some workloads, I would not be surprised if the M1 Max is actually slightly faster since the M1 Max also has twice the memory bandwidth over the M1 Pro; this difference comes from the M1 Max having twice the number of memory controllers. The actual real-world impact should be easily testable by rendering the same scene on a M1 Pro and a M1 Max chip both with 32 GB of RAM, but in the week that I've had to test the M1 Max so far, I haven't had the time or ability to be able to carry out this test on my own. Even more importantly as a predictor of future scalability, the M1 Max's efficiency as measured by core-seconds comes in at far far superior to both the Intel Xeon W-3245 and the AMD Threadripper 3900X. Imagining what a hypothetical future Apple Silicon iMac or Mac Pro with an even more scaled up M1 variant, or perhaps some kind of multi-M1 Max chiplet or multisocket solution, is extremely exciting! I think that with the upcoming Apple Silicon based large iMac and Mac Pro, Apple has a real shot at beating both Intel and AMD's highest end CPUs to win the absolute workstation performance crown. Forest Rendering 1920x1080, 8 spp, PT Max TDP: Total Energy Used: 60 W 2.1191 Wh 45 W 3.6011 Wh 205 W 6.0550 Wh 260 W 11.4295 Wh 280 W 3.0246 Wh Forest Rendering 3840x2160, 8 spp, PT Max TDP: Total Energy Used: 60 W 7.9708 Wh 45 W 13.5563 Wh 205 W 19.6625 Wh 260 W 41.6202 Wh 280 W 8.4202 Wh. At least for my rendering use case, the Apple M1 Max is easily the most energy efficient processor, even without taking into account that the 60 W TDP of the M1 Max is for the entire system-on-a-chip including CPU, GPU, and more, while the TDPs for all of the other processors are just for a CPU and don't take into account the rest of the system.