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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple in October 2023 introduced its third-generation Apple silicon chips, the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max. The chips are Apple's first that are built on the new 3-nanometer process, an upgrade over the 5-nanometer process used for both the M1 series and M2 series chips.

Apple-M3-chip-series.jpg

This guide covers everything that we know about the M3 chips Apple has developed.

M3 Chip Explained

The M3 is Apple's latest System on a Chip (SoC) developed for use in Macs and iPads. As a "System on a Chip," the M3 integrates several different components, including the CPU, GPU, unified memory architecture (RAM), Neural Engine, Secure Enclave, SSD controller, image signal processor, encode/decode engines, Thunderbolt controller with USB 4 support, and more, all of which power the different features in the Mac.

Before Apple silicon, Macs used multiple chips for CPU, I/O, and security, but Apple's effort to integrate these chips is the reason why Apple silicon chips are much faster and more efficient than Intel chips. The unified memory architecture that Apple has included is also a major factor because all of the technologies in the M3 are able to access the same data without having to swap between multiple pools of memory.

Built into the M3 chip, the unified memory architecture means the CPU, GPU, and other processor components don't need to copy data between one another, and are able to access the same data pool. This memory architecture means that the RAM is not user upgradeable, which isn't too much of a surprise because few Macs have user-accessible RAM.

Chip Specifications

The M3 chip has an 8-core CPU and up to a 10-core GPU, while the M3 Pro has up to a 12-core CPU and up to an 18-core GPU. The M3 Max has up to a 16-core CPU and up to a 40-core GPU.

M3-MacBook-Pro-Specs.jpeg

The M3 Pro and the M3 Max are also available in variants with fewer CPU and GPU cores in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, while the M3 in the 24-inch iMac is available in 8-core and 10-core GPU options. There is no M3 Ultra as of yet, but when it comes out, it is likely to feature a 32-core CPU and 80-core GPU as it will be a doubled up version of the M3 Max.

Apple says that the M3 chips are able to deliver 2.5x better GPU speeds than the M1 chips while using half the power. The M3 performance cores are up to 30 percent faster than the M1 performance cores and up to 15 percent faster than the M2 performance cores. The M3 efficiency cores are up to 50 percent faster than the M1 efficiency cores, and up to 30 percent faster than the M2 efficiency cores.

Chip Comparison

M2M3
Standard8 CPU cores (4 high-performance and 4 energy-efficient)
8 or 10 GPU cores
8 CPU cores (4 high-performance and 4 energy-efficient)
8 or 10 GPU cores
Pro10 or 12 CPU cores (6 or 8 high-performance and 4 energy-efficient)
16 or 19 GPU cores
11 or 12 CPU cores (5 or 6 high-performance and 6 energy-efficient)
14 or 18 GPU cores
Max12 CPU cores (8 high-performance and 4 energy-efficient)
30 or 38 core GPU cores
14 or 16 CPU cores (10 or 12 high-performance and 4 energy-efficient)
30 or 40 GPU cores


3-Nanometer Technology

The M1 and M2 series chips used TSMC's 5-nanometer technology, but the M3 chips are built on TSMC's newest 3-nanometer chip technology. A smaller node size equates to more transistor density, which improves both efficiency and performance. Apple's 3nm chips could offer up to 35 percent better efficiency, allowing for longer battery life for some Mac models.

Apple supplier TSMC is one of the only chip companies that is able to make 3nm chips, and rumors suggest that even TSMC's yield rates are just above 55 percent right now because the technology is so new. Apple's shift to 3nm marks the first node update since the 5nm M1 chip came out in 2020, and it will bring a bigger performance update than we saw with the M2.

GPU

Apple says that the M3 chips represent the "biggest leap forward in graphics architecture ever for Apple silicon" with faster and more efficient graphics technology. The M3 GPUs support Dynamic Caching, hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and mesh shading.

Dynamic Caching allocates the use of local memory in hardware in real time, so only the exact amount of memory needed is used for each task. It increases the average utilization of the GPU, thereby increasing performance for demanding pro apps and games.

With hardware-accelerated ray tracing, light looks more realistic as it interacts with a scene, allowing for more physically accurate images. Game developers can use the ray-tracing and mesh shading for more accurate shadows and reflections as well as more efficient geometry processing.

Battery Life

Apple silicon chips are incredibly battery efficient in addition to being faster than most Intel chips. With the M3 chip, the battery in the MacBook Pro can last for up to 22 hours.

M3 Mac Lineup

Macs That Use the M3 Chip


  • 14-inch MacBook Pro
  • 24-inch iMac

Macs That Use the M3 Pro Chip


  • 14-inch MacBook Pro
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro

Macs That Use the M3 Max Chip


  • 14-inch MacBook Pro
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro

Macs Expected to Use M3 Ultra Chip


  • Mac Studio
  • Mac Pro

Apple Silicon Mac How-Tos

Since the Apple silicon Macs are using a new type of chip designed by Apple, there are some tips and tricks for doing things like transferring files, entering recovery mode, and finding apps optimized for the new machines. We have several Apple silicon-specific how tos that are worth checking out... Click here to read rest of article

Article Link: Apple's M3 Chip: Everything We Know
 
Last edited:

sw1tcher

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
5,608
19,853
Rumors so far suggest that we'll see the first Macs with M3 chip in 2023. Apple plans to release the standard M3 chip first, and we could potentially see it in refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and MacBook Air models before the end of the year.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says we can expect new Macs in October...
... but obviously things can still theoretically change. ;)
 

Populus

macrumors 603
Aug 24, 2012
5,185
7,529
Spain, Europe
The key question tho, is which manufacturing process are they going to use for the M3 family. We know the A17 will use the N3B, but maybe they will use the N3E for the M3? If the M3 devices are coming in October, I don’t think so, because the N3E process isn’t expected until 2024.

Well, maybe that’s not the key question, but definitely one that I make myself.
 

HobeSoundDarryl

macrumors G5
Start with N3B and quietly switch to N3E whenever they like?

If I'm not mistaken, B is more expensive than E and Apple ❤️❤️❤️ maximizing profit. If B is all there is at launch, my guess would be E would hit ASAP thereafter... especially if there is even a nickel of savings in it. Or maybe a couple of 2023 Macs hit with M3 (B) and then the rest in early 2024 to next Fall will be M3 (E).

Even this crowd only really seems to care what number is painted on top of the chip. As long as it is M3- whether B, E or Z process behind the scenes- does anybody other than Apple really care?
 

zedsdead

macrumors 68040
Jun 20, 2007
3,415
1,168
M3 will definitely be a nicer bump than M2, however I am much more interested to see what other features Apple may brings to Macs. The processors will be great, and I’m sure they will push battery life up.

- Cellular
- Face ID
- OLED in Macbooks
- ProMotion/Mini LED in large screens
- Return of the larger iMac
- Two monitor support on base M3?
- Midnight or new colors in pro Mac’s (we can dream!!)
 

3xBoom

macrumors 6502
Apr 20, 2020
421
548
It's also dumb that the 13" MacBook "Pro" comes with 8GB memory standard and maxes out at 24GB while the larger MBP's come with at least 16GB and max out at 96GB
Totally. The only way to rationalize this is to assume that Apple thinks (and not too incorrect in that) that potent Macbooks pros are used by graphics/video pros who would prefer larger screens. But I'd love to have the combination of the smaller footprint and weight without compromising the performance.
 

ArkSingularity

macrumors 6502a
Mar 5, 2022
925
1,122
13” MBP seems dumb.
I actually really don't mind that one. It's basically just a MacBook Air with a fan, but for a lot of people, that's exactly what they need. It's a thin and light computer that's reasonably powerful, has a little bit of extra battery life, and won't throttle if they decide to hammer it.

The only thing I wish they'd do to it is add magsafe to it. Having only two ports and then being forced to use one of them to charge is a bit ridiculous when even the Air has a better IO situation. (I'm surprised they haven't tried to rebrand it as just the "MacBook," but sales would probably drop somewhat if they did.)
 

coffeemilktea

macrumors 65816
Nov 25, 2022
1,040
4,319
At last, a chip fast enough to keep up with my highly demanding activities of opening Twitter X and making goofy comments on the MacRumors forums. :p

Sometimes I open Chrome AND Firefox at the same time so I can really push the boundaries of computing technology. o_O
 

ArkSingularity

macrumors 6502a
Mar 5, 2022
925
1,122
I thought it was well reported that as Apple’s memory supplier has switched to multiple of 12GB chips now (12/24/36) that the base model M3s should come with 12GB now?
That would be game changing for a lot of people too. 8GB is still enough for most average everyday users, but it's right on the cusp of not being enough for a lot of folks who are on the heavier end of that.
 

EugW

macrumors G5
Jun 18, 2017
14,300
12,054
No one knows for sure that base will be 12GB - pure speculation. 8GB is most likely.
I agree. Even though I'd prefer a 12 GB baseline, I also think the base M3 will remain at 8 GB, for the sake of manufacturing cost and because 8 GB is perfectly fine for entry level usage. I'm typing on my wife's 8 GB MacBook Air right now, and we never run into memory issues on this machine given her light usage patterns - Messages, Chrome and Safari with half a dozen tabs or so, Calendar, Word or Pages, Mail, light Photos, etc.
 
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