Photos of the Apple M1 Max Die hint at future chip designs

It seems that Apple kept a well kept secret concerning its new silicon M1 Max. New photos of the underside of the chip reveal that it may in fact have an interconnect bus that enables Multi-Chip-Module (MCM) scaling, allowing the company to stack multiple dies in one. chip-based design. This could result in chips with up to 40 processor cores and 128 GPU cores. Apple has yet to confirm the provisions for chip-based designs, but the M1 Max could theoretically evolve into an “M1 Max Duo” configuration or even an “M1 Max Quadra” configuration, aligning with persistence. reports of various chip-based M1 designs in the future.

Apple has managed to impress the world not once but twice already with the performance of its Arm-based M1 processors. The company’s latest M1 Max chip is a force to be reckoned with – the chips’ gargantuan 57 billion transistors allow Apple to scale up to 10 processor cores and 24 or 32 GPU cores (depending on the configuration that you get), all in a single 5nm chip. Adding accommodations for a chip-based design would theoretically multiply compute resources, and therefore performance.

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The interconnect bus would allow Apple to upgrade its chips by “sticking” the appropriate number of M1 Max chips. But, of course, it’s not just a matter of flipping one M1 Max chip and aligning it with the second; Apple should always use specific interposer and packaging options for a chip-based design.

M1 Max

Apple’s M1 family of SoC Arms. (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Interestingly, Apple’s M1 Pro chip (which fits between the M1 and M1 Max SoCs) doesn’t have an interconnect bus – it’s actually located in the extended half of the M1 Max (a more robust version M1 Pro). This probably means that Apple only expects users who need the extra graphics processing power of its M1 Max (like graphics or TV studios) to require performance scaling through this. chip design philosophy.

The marriage of two 520mm ^ 2 Apple M1 Max dies in an “M1 Max Duo” chip could provide up to 20 processor cores and 48 or 64 GPU units. This would also require an appropriate doubling of the system’s memory to 128 GB. The memory bandwidth would also have to grow in such a system, up to 800 Gb / s. This seems doable under the current design of the M1 Max, although Apple’s 10,040mm ^ 2 silicon is more expensive, of course.

M1 Max Ultra

The proposed evolutionary route of the Apple M1 Max: the best “M1 Max Duo”, and the best “M1 Ultra”. (Image credit: @Frederic_Orange on Twitter)

Opting for the “M1 Max Quadra” solution with 40 CPU cores and 128 GPU cores would be even more complicated. Maybe an extra I / O die, as the source suggests, is the right solution, but the possibilities abound. Apple could also maintain sufficient bandwidth between the dies through I / O technology similar to AMD’s Infinity Fabric. Whether or not larger chips would require an I / O chip remains an open question, as other leaks have suggested the design would be extended into a monolithic design.

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It’s ultimately unclear how Apple would choose to handle memory bandwidth scaling – and any solution would have dramatically increased platform development costs throughout. But again, these theoretical “M1 Max Duo” and “M1 Max Quadra” products are aimed at a market that cares more about performance and fuel efficiency than cost.

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