CPU ST Performance: Not Much Change from M1

Apple didn’t talk much about core performance of the new M1 Pro and Max, and this is likely because it hasn’t really changed all that much compared to the M1. We’re still seeing the same Firestrom performance cores, and they’re still clocked at 3.23GHz. The new chip has more caches, and more DRAM bandwidth, but under ST scenarios we’re not expecting large differences.

When we first tested the M1 last year, we had compiled SPEC under Apple’s Xcode compiler, and we lacked a Fortran compiler. We’ve moved onto a vanilla LLVM11 toolchain and making use of GFortran (GCC11) for the numbers published here, allowing us more apple-to-apples comparisons. The figures don’t change much for the C/C++ workloads, but we get a more complete set of figures for the suite due to the Fortran workloads. We keep flags very simple at just “-Ofast” and nothing else.

SPECint2017 Rate-1 Estimated Scores

In SPECint2017, the differences to the M1 are small. 523.xalancbmk is showcasing a large performance improvement, however I don’t think this is due to changes on the chip, but rather a change in Apple’s memory allocator in macOS 12. Unfortunately, we no longer have an M1 device available to us, so these are still older figures from earlier in the year on macOS 11.

Against the competition, the M1 Max either has a significant performance lead, or is able to at least reach parity with the best AMD and Intel have to offer. The chip however doesn’t change the landscape all too much.

SPECfp2017 Rate-1 Estimated Scores

SPECfp2017 also doesn’t change dramatically, 549.fotonik3d does score quite a bit better than the M1, which could be tied to the more available DRAM bandwidth as this workloads puts extreme stress on the memory subsystem, but otherwise the scores change quite little compared to the M1, which is still on average quite ahead of the laptop competition.

SPEC2017 Rate-1 Estimated Total

The M1 Max lands as the top performing laptop chip in SPECint2017, just shy of being the best CPU overall which still goes to the 5950X, but is able to take and maintain the crown from the M1 in the FP suite.

Overall, the new M1 Max doesn’t deliver any large surprises on single-threaded performance metrics, which is also something we didn’t expect the chip to achieve.

Power Behaviour: No Real TDP, but Wide Range CPU MT Performance: A Real Monster


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  • michael2k - Thursday, October 28, 2021 - link

    Power consumption scales linearly with clock speed.

    Clock speed, however, is constrained by voltage. That said, we already know that the M1M itself has a 3.2GHz clock while the GPU is only running at 1.296GHz. It is unknown if there is any reason other than power for the GPU to run so slowly. If they could double the GPU clock (and therefore double it's performance) without increasing it's voltage, it would only draw about 112W. If they let it run at 3.2GHz it would draw 138W.

    Paired with the CPU drawing 40W the M1M would still be several times under the Mac Pro's current 902W. So that leaves open the possibility of a multiple chip solution (4 M1P still only draws 712W if the GPU is clocked to 3.2GHz) as well as clocking up slightly to 3.5GHz, assuming no need to increase voltage. Bumping up to 3.5GHz would still only consume 778W while giving us almost 11x the GPU power of the current M1P, which would be 11x the performance of the 3080 found in the GE76 Raider

    Also, you bring up AMD/Intel/NVIDIA at 5nm, without also considering that when Apple stops locking up 5nm it's because they will be at 4nm and 3nm.
  • uningenieromas - Thursday, October 28, 2021 - link

    You would think that if Apple's silicon engineers are so freakin' good, they could basically work wherever they want...and, yep, they chose Apple. There might be a reason for that? Reply
  • varase - Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - link

    We're glad you shared your religious epiphany with the rest of us 😳. Reply
  • Romulo Pulcinelli Benedetti - Sunday, May 22, 2022 - link

    Sure, Intel and AMD would take all the hard work to advance humanity toward Apple level chips if Apple was not there, believe in this... Reply
  • Alej - Tuesday, October 26, 2021 - link

    The native ARM Mac scarcity I don’t fully get, a lot of games get ported to the switch which is already ARM. And if they are using Vulkan as the graphics API then there’s already MoltenVK to translate it to Metal, which even if not perfect and won’t use the 100% of available tricks and optimizations, it would run well enough. Reply
  • Wrs - Tuesday, October 26, 2021 - link

    @Alej It's a numbers and IDE game. 90 million Switches sold, all purely for gaming, supported by a company that exclusively does games. 20 million Macs sold yearly, most not for gaming in the least, built by a company not focused on gaming for that platform. iPhones are partially used for gaming, however, and sell many times the volume of the Switch, so as expected there's a strong gaming ecosystem. Reply
  • Kangal - Friday, October 29, 2021 - link

    Apple is happy where they are.
    However, if Apple were a little faster/wiser, they would've made the switch from Intel Macs to M1 Macs back in 2018 using the TSMC 7nm node, their Tempest/Vortex CPUs and their A12-GPU. They wouldn't be too far removed from the performance of the M1, M1P, M1X if scaled similarly.

    And even more interesting, what if Apple released a great Home Console?
    Something that is more compact than the Xbox Series S, yet more powerful than the Xbox Series X. That would leave both Microsoft and Sony scrambling. They could've designed a very ergonomic controller with much less latency, and they could've enticed all these AAA-developers to their platform (Metal v2 / Swift v4). It would be gaming-centric, with out-of-box support for iOS games/apps, and even a limited-time support (Rosetta v2) for legacy OS X Applications. They wouldn't be able to subsidies the pricing like Sony, but could basically front the costs from their own pocket to bring it to a palatable RRP. After 2 years, then they would be able to turn a profit from its hardware sales and software sales.

    I'm sure they could have been a hit. And it would then pivot to make MacBook Pro's more friendly for media consumption, and developer-supported. Strengthening their entire ecosystem, and leveraging their unique position in software and hardware to remain competitive.
  • kwohlt - Tuesday, October 26, 2021 - link

    I think it is just you. Imagine a hypothetical ultra thin, fanless laptop that offered 20 hours of battery under load and could play games at desktop 3080 levels...Would you wish this laptop was louder, hotter, and had worse battery?

    No of course not. Consuming less power and generating less heat, while offering similar or better performance has always been the goal of computing. It's this trend that allows us to daily carry computing power that was once the size of a refrigerator in our pockets and on our wrists.
  • Wrs - Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - link

    No, but I might wish it could scale upward to a desktop/console for way more performance than a 3080. :) That would also be an indictment of how poorly the 3080 is designed or fabricated, or how old it is.

    Now, if in the future silicon gets usurped by a technology that does not scale up in power density, then I could be forced to say yes.
  • turbine101 - Monday, October 25, 2021 - link

    Why would developers waste there time on a device which will have barely any sales?

    The M1 Mac Max costs $6knzd. That's just crazy, even the most devout Apple enthusiasts cannot justify this. And Mac is far less usable than IOS.

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