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April 2, 2024 01:20 pm GMT

Apple M3 Ultra Chip Could be a Monolithic Design Without UltraFusion Interconnect

As we witness Apple's generational updates of the M series of chips, the highly anticipated SKU of the 3rd generation of Apple M series yet-to-be-announced top-of-the-line M3 Ultra chip is growing speculations from industry insiders. The latest round of reports suggests that the M3 Ultra might step away from its predecessor's design, potentially adopting a monolithic architecture without the UltraFusion interconnect technology. In the past, Apple has relied on a dual-chip design for its Ultra variants, using the UltraFusion interconnect to combine two M series Max chips. For example, the second generation M Ultra chip, M2 Ultra, boasts 134 billion transistors across two 510 mm chips. However, die-shots of the M3 Max have sparked discussions about the absence of dedicated chip space for the UltraFusion interconnect.

While the absence of visible interconnect space on early die-shots is not conclusive evidence, as seen with the M1 Max not having visible UltraFusion interconnect and still being a part of M1 Ultra with UltraFusion, industry has led the speculation that the M3 Ultra may indeed feature a monolithic design. Considering that the M3 Max has 92 billion transistors and is estimated to have a die size between 600 and 700 mm, going Ultra with these chips may be pushing the manufacturing limit. Considering the maximum die size limit of 848 mm for the TSMC N3B process used by Apple, there may not be sufficient space for a dual-chip M3 Ultra design. The potential shift to a monolithic design for the M3 Ultra raises questions about how Apple will scale the chip's performance without the UltraFusion interconnect. Competing solutions, such as NVIDIA's Blackwell GPU, use a high-bandwidth C2C interface to connect two 104 billion transistor chips, achieving a bandwidth of 10 TB/s. In comparison, the M2 Ultra's UltraFusion interconnect provided a bandwidth of 2.5 TB/s.

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