Apple’s Chip Developed for Cancelled ‘Apple Car’ Project Was as Powerful as Four M2 Ultra Chips

M2 Ultra chip times 4
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After nearly a decade of development, Apple’s $10 billion “Apple Car” project was recently canceled by the Cupertino company. The termination of the electric vehicle project has left observers with several unanswered questions, such as what custom technology was developed for the project and what the company will do with the tech now that it isn’t needed for an Apple Car.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman recently held a Q&A with his readers about the canceled vehicle project, where he shared a few tidbits about the technology Apple created from scratch for the project — including the most powerful system on a chip ever developed by the Apple silicon team.

Gurman was asked about how involved in the Apple Car project the Apple silicon team was, Gurman replied:

Perhaps reluctantly, the Apple Silicon team was heavily involved in the Apple car project. Remember, the most important part of the car was its AI brain. That all ran on Apple silicon. The chip Apple developed was nearly finished. It was equal to about four M2 Ultras combined.

That would be quite a powerful chip! The M2 Ultra, which is two M2 Max chips joined, boasts 134 billion transistors. That’s already the second-highest transistor count in a consumer microprocessor, only recently surpassed by AMD’s 146-billion-transistor Instinct MI300A. However, the SoC Apple developed for use in its vehicle would have blown past that with roughly 536 billion transistors, making it the largest chip ever created by any consumer technology company.

WWDC2023 M2 Ultra

Gurman did not provide any additional details about the new chip, saying only that the quad-M2 Ultra SoC’s development was nearly complete when the wheels fell off of the vehicle project.

Apple tends to develop chips that can be used across several device lineups, so we could see a quad M2 Ultra powering an Apple device sometime in the near future. As the project’s engineers were reassigned to other Apple projects, the powerful SoC could make an appearance.

One reader asked Gurman if Apple would sell or license the technology it developed for its vehicle project. Gurman replied that he doesn’t believe Apple would offer any of the technology to other firms; rather, it’s more likely to keep the tech for use in its future products of its own. He said that could include artificial intelligence, advanced silicon, and the “safetyOS” microkernel operating system that was developed for the vehicle project.

Even so, Apple could sell a few more material assets related to the Apple Car project, such as its Arizona test track or its powertrain technology.

Another reader asked, “Do you see big changes in Apple CarPlay moving forward where maybe they were holding back some of the features to release on an Apple Car?”

Gurman replied that Apple is “all-in” on the next generation of CarPlay, which they’ve already unveiled, and he doesn’t expect to see anything more appear on the roadmap this time around.

Was the timing behind the cancellation of the Apple Car project simply a case of Apple CEO Tim Cook wanting to “tie up loose ends” before he steps down?

Gurman replied that he didn’t believe that was the case. When Apple was rumored to be delaying the vehicle’s debut until 2028, some speculated that the delay was tied to Cook’s expected retirement date. However, Gurman said he doesn’t expect to see Cook stepping down anytime soon.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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