Mac Studio’s SSD module can be removed, but it’s not much use

The Mac Studio’s SSD can be removed with some effort to open the box. But is it possible to replace this module yourself with another more generous one? The question is of all the more interest to the most buyers of the computer as Apple charges a high price for the additional TB – which must also be chosen at the time of the order.

The manufacturer thus specifies that the storage of the Mac Studio is not accessible to the user. Apple recommends “planning accordingly” if you think you might ever need more storage.

There is indeed room for a second SSD module, but the three controllers present under the first module are absent. Luke speculates that Mac Studio models with 2TB storage and below only have one storage module, compared to two on the 4TB and 8TB versions.

First attempt: install a second module on the available slot, which would in theory double the storage (1 TB + 1 TB). White cabbage: the LED on the front of the computer flashes “SOS” in Morse code! Second attempt: transfer the SSD from its original slot to the second slot. Again, nothing to do, the Mac does not start anymore, the loupiote is content to flash without a message in Morse code.

What these manipulations tell us is that the Mac Studio is able to recognize that the second slot is occupied. Finally, the hacker wanted to know if the SSD of a Mac could be installed in the first slot of the other Mac. In other words, can we imagine the possibility of a storage upgrade after buying the beast?

But unfortunately, the operation did not give anything, the Mac refuses to start on its new SSD module. Is this related to a hardware problem or a purely software restriction? In the latter case, it would eventually be possible to boot on a replaced SSD via a simple update. Nothing says that Apple wants it…

This SSD module might just be easy to access only for authorized repairers. But from the point of view of the right to repair, it’s a different story even if Apple showed its credentials last year with the Self Service Repair program.

Mac Studio won’t start if SSD is changed by user

Changing the Mac Studio’s SSD yourself? Attention…

YouTuber Luke Miani took the SSD module from one Mac Studio and put it in another Mac Studio to see what happens. It turns out that the computer refused to start and the LED on the front flashed several times, indicating that there is a problem. Technically, the Mac recognized the SSD but macOS refused to launch due to a software crash from Apple.

We can therefore suspect that a check takes place (probably with the serial number) to ensure that everything matches. And if not, the Mac refuses to start. This will really annoy those who hope to one day make a change to increase storage capacity. To see if technicians in authorized repair centers will have dedicated tools for the new SSD to be accepted.

As said before, this is a software lock. Apple could therefore offer a macOS update in the future that unblocks the situation. After all, there was a similar story with the Mac Pro. We then had official SSD kits from Apple that could be installed and naturally recognized by the computer. The same thing could happen in a few months for the Mac Studio, although Apple does not communicate on the subject.

Apple: the Mac Studio stripped down, the M1 Ultra three times larger than an AMD Ryzen

While some sources are already talking about a potential Apple processor combining two M1 Ultra, the latter remains the most imposing System on a Chip (SoC) that the Cupertino company currently offers.

114 billion transistors

Remember that a SoC is more than a processor since in good French, we speak of a System on a Chip, in other words a complete system on a single integrated circuit which therefore brings together a processor, RAM, peripherals interface, a graphical solution…

The M1 Ultra has been widely promoted by Apple, which notably mentioned its 20 CPU cores and up to 64 GPU cores for a total of 114 billion transistors. Nestled in the heart of the Mac Studio, it makes this machine a concentrate of power that Max Tech has boned.

The idea was obviously to see the design of this machine in more detail and to insist on two essential points: first, the impressive cooling system put in place by Apple and, second, the space occupied by the M1 Ultra. , a really huge chip.

While the Mac Studio measures only 19.7 x 19.7 x 9.5 centimeters for a volume of 3.6 liters, the M1 Ultra is approximately three times larger than an AMD Ryzen processor: the photo published by Max Tech speaks for itself.

Mac Studio storage can be changed manually, but Apple hasn’t made it easy

FLASH MEMORY CAN BE CHANGED MANUALLY

The American Youtuber Max Tech was one of the first to dismantle the version with the M1 Ultra chip. Apple specifies that the Mac Studio cannot be modified after purchase, so it is important to configure the correct amount of RAM and storage.

It turns out that flash memory, SSD, can be changed quite easily. However, as Pierre Dandumont points out, the connector is not the standard M.2.

You will therefore not be able to take any flash memory, Apple also sells storage for Mac Pro in the right format. The 1 TB kit is sold for 690 euros, 4 to 7 times more expensive than an SSD in M.2 format, while it takes 1,150 euros for 2 TB of storage, or 3,220 euros for 8 TB.

In short, it is very complicated and expensive to change the flash memory yourself. Moreover, one of the main criticisms of the first testers is the fact that the Mac Studio does not have options to evolve the internal storage. You have to go through Thunderbolt compatible USB-C connectors which allow you to connect NVMe SSDs.

Apple M1 Ultra, an imposing chip

There are several explanations for this imposing format. This chip is an MCM solution that merges two M1 Max dies but not only. We also have an imposing GPU equipped with 64 processing cores accompanied by all the I/O and memory. It is a kind of Ultra SOC resulting from an engraving at 5nm offering a trifle of 114 billion transistors.

The processor part is equipped with 20 cores with 16 high-performance cores and 4 high-efficiency cores. High-performance cores benefit from 192 KB of instruction cache, 128 KB of data cache and 48 MB of L2 cache while efficient cores offer 128 KB of instruction cache, 64 KB of data cache and 8 MB L2 cache.

On the question of performance, Apple has positioned its M1 Ultra against a 64-core Ryzen Threadripper 3990X, but we are far from this result. The machine is sometimes positioned in front of an Intel Core i9-12900K or a Ryzen 9 5950X.

It is therefore necessary to temporize the figures of Apple. Its benchmarks were likely selected under workloads featuring the M1 Ultra and not through actual applications.

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