Apple is testing a pair of new high-end Macs and their accompanying processors ahead of its Worldwide Developers Conference next week, suggesting that it’s nearing the release of professional-focused desktop computers.
The company is planning two new Mac models — labelled internally as Mac 14,13 and Mac 14,14 — that run the M2 Max processor announced in January and a yet-to-be-unveiled M2 Ultra chip. That second processor would replace the M1 Ultra model currently featured in the Mac Studio, a high-end desktop announced in March 2022.
The new computers are part of an effort to overhaul the Mac line and attract consumers during a sluggish stretch for the computer industry. Powerful desktop models remain key to Apple’s appeal among professional users, such as video editors or graphic designers. The company also is just days away from WWDC, its annual gathering of developers who rely on such machines to build apps.
A representative for Cupertino, California-based Apple declined to comment.
The first desktop computer in testing is running an M2 Max processor with eight high-performance cores — components for the most demanding tasks — as well as four efficiency cores and 30 graphics cores. Those are the same specifications featured in the MacBook Pro with the M2 Max. This particular machine also includes 96 gigabytes of memory and is running macOS 13.4, the version of the Mac operating system that was just released earlier this month.
The second machine in testing has what is labelled as an M2 Ultra chip, which the company hasn’t yet announced. That component, which sports 24 processing cores, doubles the performance of the M2 Max model. The chip includes 16 high-performance cores and eight efficiency cores, as well as 60 graphics cores. The company is testing it in configurations with 64 gigabytes, 128 gigabytes and 192 gigabytes of memory.
The M2 Ultra chip will also include a more powerful option, with as many as 76 graphics cores, doubling the 38-core maximum found in the current M2 Max chip, Bloomberg has reported.
The M2 Ultra chip was initially designed for a future version of the high-end Mac Pro desktop. That machine currently still runs Intel chips — a holdout in Apple’s three-year effort to use homegrown processors in its computers.
Apple has been vague about when a new Mac Pro is coming. It said more than a year ago that an updated model would arrive “another day.” Inside Apple, the future Mac Pro with in-house chips has been labelled Mac 14,8. That suggests that the latest desktops in testing are different machines, such as new versions of the Mac Studio, which is currently offered in M1 Max and M1 Ultra configurations.
Bloomberg reported in April that two new Mac Studio updates are in the works. Apple has also been developing a 15-inch version of the MacBook Air, along with future iterations of the 13-inch MacBook Air and 15-inch model with a 3-nanometer M3 processor. And it’s planning a low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro and an iMac with the next-generation chip.
Next week’s developer expo kicks off Monday with the debut of Apple’s much-anticipated mixed-reality headset. The company also will unveil updates to the software that runs on the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac. The presentation will include multiple new Mac models as well.
In another sign that new machines are coming soon, Apple is planning to start letting customers trade in more types of Macs for a gift card next Monday. The Macs that Apple will begin accepting: the M2 13-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, as well as the current Mac Studio. Such a move typically heralds that new versions are on the way.
© 2023 Bloomberg LP
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