The announcement of the Mac Pro with M2 Ultra has been one of the most surprising of the WWDC. After the success achieved with the Mac Studio, those from Cupertino have recovered the lost ground in the professional field. Similarly, the upgrade to the powerful desktop computer marks the end of Intel processors.
Until a few hours ago the 2019 Mac Pro was the last Mac with an Intel chip. The redesign announced that year included a modular computer powered by Xeon processors with up to 28 cores, 1.5TB of RAM and Radeon graphics. Times were different and although the rumors of a switch to ARM were strong, the idea of a Mac Pro with an Apple chip seemed distant.
Things changed in November 2020 when Apple introduced the M1, its first ARM processor for Macs. The M1 with unified architecture outperformed the latest x86 chips by up to two times without sacrificing power consumption. The Apple Silicon era had begunand with it, the end of Intel as a technology provider.
The arrival of M1 Ultra was enough to drop claims that an ARM processor would never outshine Intel chips. The new Mac Studio SoC fused two M1 Max chips together using the UltraFusion architecture to achieve twice the performance. The result outperformed the more powerful Core i9 and the NVIDIA RTX 3090.
Apple had envisioned a two-year process to complete the transition to its processors. With the launch of the M2 and M2 Pro, the last Mac with Intel stopped selling at the beginning of 2023 and today it is the turn of the Mac Pro.
The Mac Pro was the beginning and end of Intel
The relationship between Apple and Intel started at WWDC 2005, when Steve Jobs announced that the next Mac would use x86 processors. the technological began a gradual transition that it would leave behind the PowerPC architecture that powered its computers for more than twenty years.
“Our goal is to provide our customers with the best personal computers in the world, and going forward, Intel has by far the strongest processor roadmap,” Jobs said. “Ten years have passed since our transition to PowerPC and we believe that Intel technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years,” said the Apple co-founder in 2005.
Unlike Apple Silicon, the change of architecture to x86 was more problematic in its beginnings. Rosetta’s performance, which allowed PowerPC applications to run on Intel processors, wasn’t the best. Add to that that fans weren’t happy with a chip associated with Windows. However, Intel-powered Macs opened the door to attract more users.
In recent years, Intel was outclassed in the chip manufacturing process. While AMD was designing more efficient processors, Intel couldn’t get past the 10-nanometer process. The most powerful laptops with x86 architecture were large and with poor autonomy, something that would not happen with an ARM processor.
In its strategy to control the technology of its products, Apple announced its first chip, and with it, the end of a 15-year relationship. Just as the 2006 Mac Pro marked the end of PowerPCs, the Mac Pro with M2 Ultra is the final nail in the coffin for the Intel era.