Apple launches M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max processors, real competitive monsters

Less than a year after completing its M2 chip catalog, Apple launched the M3, an all-new line of processors during its “Frighteningly Fast” event, equipping the new MacBook Pro and iMac computers with the next generation. The series currently consists of 3 chips, M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max, but we expect the M3 Ultra version to arrive later in a future Mac Studio.

The main innovation of this generation is the fineness of the engraving, which has increased from 5 nm on M2 chips such as the A17 Pro of the iPhone 15 Pro to only 3 nm. As such, these are the first computer processors to take advantage of this technology, allowing them to be not only more powerful but also more energy efficient.

M3 chips still use more cores for more power

The base M3 has an 8-core processor consisting of four high-performance cores and four low-power cores. Apple claims this processor is up to 35% faster than the M1. While it’s not a direct comparison to the M2, the fact that Apple has already announced an 18% increase in CPU performance for the M2 over the M1 helps provide some context. The M3 is also equipped with a 10-core GPU with next-generation architecture, which is said to be 65% faster than the M1 in terms of graphics performance. It supports up to 24GB of unified memory and can accommodate an external display in addition to the built-in displays on the iMac and MacBook.

The M3 Pro, on the other hand, features an improved 12-core CPU configuration with six high-performance cores and six low-power cores. Additionally, it has an 18-core GPU that performs 40% better than the M1 Pro. Apple claims that the processor performance is 30% faster than the M1 Pro for single-core tasks. M3 Pro supports up to 36 GB combined memory.

The M3 Max goes further by offering a 16-core GPU with 12 high-performance cores and four low-power cores, as well as a 40-core GPU that is said to be 50% faster than the M1 Max. This variant can support up to 128GB of combined memory. Apple claims an 80% increase in GPU performance over the M1 Max, which is a significant improvement. This is particularly notable because Apple has previously said that the M2 Max is up to 30% faster than the M1 Max in terms of graphics.

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M3 chips come with ray tracing technology

You’ll find that the M3 chips are clearly geared towards graphics improvements. They now come with hardware ray tracing and mesh shading functions, a first for Apple Silicon.

Apple is also introducing a new feature: Dynamic caching. This feature dynamically allocates memory at the hardware level based on the precise needs of each task using the GPU. Apple says this is an industry first and doesn’t require any special customization from developers because it works seamlessly and automatically.

Finally, note that Apple’s new M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chips feature an improved neural engine for accelerated machine learning models. For the first time, they also include an AV1 decoder, allowing more energy efficient playback of AV1 content. What’s certain is that Qualcomm has these chips waiting around the corner with the brand new Snapdragon X Elite, which offers very similar specs.

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