Putting M1 Max GPU Performance in Context

Andy Somerfield, lead for (the great) Affinity Photo app:

In Photo, an ideal GPU would do three different things well: 1.) High compute performance 2.) Fast on-chip bandwidth 3.) Fast transfer on and off the GPU.

Way back in 2009, no GPU did all three things well - but we thought that eventually the industry would get there, so we took a risk and designed the entire architecture based on that assumption. Things didn’t go entirely to plan.

We shipped Photo in 2015 - six years after the design phase - without GPU compute support :(

A GPU which did all the things we needed simply didn’t exist. We wondered if we had backed the wrong horse. Happily, a short while later it did exist - but it was in an iPad 😬!

Fast-forward a few tweets in the thread to today:

The #M1Max is the fastest GPU we have ever measured in the @affinitybyserif Photo benchmark. It outperforms the W6900X — a $6000, 300W desktop part — because it has immense compute performance, immense on-chip bandwidth and immediate transfer of data on and off the GPU (UMA).

A laptop GPU outperforming a $6,000 300-watt (300 watts!) desktop GPU. Bananas. But here I am, typing this sentence on that laptop.

The entire Apple silicon story — along with the Affinity Photo team’s prescient bet — feels like a perfect illustration of the Bill Gates axiom: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

Tuesday, 26 October 2021