Apple has unveiled its latest technological marvel: the M3 silicon line. Touted to be the first CPUs for desktop computers built on a 3nm process, this new generation of silicon sports major enhancements to the previous M2 and M1 models. They will be incorporated in Apple's MacBook Pro and iMac products, promising a significant upgrade in speed and performance.
First CPUs on 3nm Process Boosts Performance
The M3 chip comes in three forms: base model, Pro, and Max. Apple claims a substantial performance boost compared to previous M2 and M1 releases thanks to the 3nm process node. The new chips' performance cores are up to 30 percent faster than the M1, and their efficiency cores are up to 50 percent faster. Against the previous M2 iteration, M3 delivers a gain of 15 percent for performance cores and a 30 percent boost for efficiency cores.
The M3 line boasts a new GPU architecture that supports hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading. Apple states that the enhanced GPU cores of the M3 will deliver approximately 1.8 times the rendering performance of the M2 and 2.5 times that of the M1.
Starting from $1,299: New M3 Line for MacBook Pro and iMac
The M3 silicon is set to be incorporated into Apple's iMac and a lower-priced 14-inch MacBook Pro. These products will initially be offered with a 256GB SSD and will start at $1,299 and $1,599, respectively. The MacBook Pro will also feature a single fan for cooling.
On the outside, both the iMac and MacBook Pro remain largely unchanged, though customers can look forward to a new space black color and an upgraded XDR display. The upgraded display now delivers 600 nits of brightness for standard def content and a peak brightness of 1,600 nits for HDR content.
Pro and Max SoCs Meet High-End Demands
For more demanding users, Apple offers its Pro and Max SoCs. They feature a new core arrangement in which M3 Pro Macs have 12 cores in total, with up to six performance and six efficiency cores. The M3 Max offers four efficiency cores and up to 12 performance cores. The Pro chips can come equipped with between 18GB and 36GB of on-package memory and a GPU with either 14 or 18 cores. For the Max model, there are either 30 or 40 GPU cores and on-package memory of between 36GB and 128GB.
In terms of cost, a base model 14-inch MacBook Pro featuring an M3 Pro starts at $1,999, with the M3 Max variant starting from $3,199. Maxing out the available options will see prices reach $6,899 and $7,199 for the 14-inch and 16-inch models respectively, should customers opt for an 8TB SSD and 128GB of memory. The shipping date for these products has yet to be shared by Apple.
The Race for ARM Computing
Apple's release of the original M1 led to a major shift in the consumer PC market. While other companies, notably Microsoft with its Windows on ARM, were already attempting ARM computing, Apple was able to mainstream it. A strategic partnership with ARM brought the original M1, a chip that was instantly praised for its performance and efficiency.
Since then, Apple's partnership with ARM has become ironclad, with the two extending their partnership until 2040 in September. Apple was also a notable investor in ARM during the company's IPO on September, helping the value of ARM soar to over $60 billion. Microsoft's struggles to find similar success with Windows on ARM has led to the company reportedly starting development on its own ARM chip. Microsoft's long-term ARM partner, Qualcomm, is also exploring its own CPUs for Windows on ARM.