Apple’s scary event saw the arrival of the company’s new chips for personal computers – the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max. They will be available in the newly introduced 14” and 16” MacBook Pro laptops, and the entry-level variant is also in the 24” iMac.
The biggest improvement is the GPU, aimed to improve the performance of professional apps and gaming. It will support hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading, which is a first for Apple silicon. Another first is the 3 nm process, as Cupertino is the first to implement the technology in chips for personal computers.
The base M3 has an eight-core CPU with one cluster of four for performance and the other four for efficiency. The GPU is 10-core with a next-gen architecture and is said to be 65% faster than the M1 when talking about graphics. Support for unified storage is up to 24 GB.
The M3 Pro comes with a 12-core CPU (six for performance, six for efficiency) and an 18-core GPU that is 40% faster than the M1 Pro. It supports up to 36 GB Unified storage.
Apple’s true powerhouse in the lineup is the M3 Max – a 16-core CPU (12 for performance, 4 for efficiency), a 40-core GPU, and support for up to 128 GB Unified storage. The chip is 50% faster than the M1 Max, while graphics alone are 80% better in performance, which is huge, given how the M2 Max was 30% faster than its predecessor last year.
The ray-tracing support means the M3 chips can finally compete with Nvidia and Arm GPUs, seen in consoles, PC gaming stations and Windows laptops. Hardware-accelerated mesh shading allows developers to improve complex scenes in games and GPU-intensive apps.
There is also Dynamic Caching on the M3 silicon, which allocates exactly the memory needed by the GPU. Apple said this is a first in the industry, and developers will love it, as they don’t have to build around it – it is a transparent and automatic progress.
We are yet to see how these improvements would translate in real life. Apple did say the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max have an improved Neural Engine to accelerate machine learning models but did not say how much they actually got better.
Power efficiency is big with the M3 chips, as the family is now on the 3 nm process, just like the A17 Pro platform in the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max. During the event, Apple compared the M3 CPU and GPU performance against a laptop with Intel Core i7 1360P processor which has a basic Iris Xe graphics chip, saying it provides the same performance at 25% of the power.
Apple M3, M3 Pro, M3 Max
The M3 chip will be available in the iMac. Along with the M3 Pro, it can also be found in the 14” MacBook Pro, and both chips will be available in their respective devices starting from November 7. The M3 Max will start shipping with 14” and 16” MacBook Pro notebooks later in November.