Brand New M3 Chips from Apple

On the outside, none of the new Macs that Apple is revealing today at its “Scary Fast” product event differ significantly from the models they’re replacing, but inside, things get interesting. Apple’s next-generation M3-series chips are now available in Macs for the first time, and in contrast to previous years, Apple is introducing multiple M3 performance tiers simultaneously.

The A17 Pro chip in the iPhone 15 Pro uses the same underlying CPU and GPU architectures as the M3, M3 Pro, M3 Max, and M3. Similar to the A17 Pro, Taiwan Semiconductor’s (TSMC) new 3 nm process is used in the production of all M3 chips. Now let’s explore the capabilities of the M3 family and the distinctions between each performance tier.

According to Apple,

the efficiency cores in any given M3 processor can operate up to 50% faster and the performance cores can run up to 30% faster than those in an M1 processor. The majority of Apple’s direct performance comparisons were made with the M1 generation, which is helpful because M2 Mac owners are unlikely to want to upgrade to an M3, but it also serves as a useful marketing tool by overstating what it claims are performance gains.

Since the M3’s GPU is built on the same architecture as the A17 Pro, hardware-accelerated ray-tracing support, similar to that found in more recent Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon GPUs, is available for all M3 Macs. Like with desktop PCs, there will be a performance hit when turning on ray tracing in most games and apps. This may make the M3 Pro and Max more useful than the entry-level M3, but all of the GPUs in the family at least support it.

In addition to new hardware features, Apple claims that the M3 series’ peak GPU performance is up to 65% faster than that of the M1 series; however, as with CPU performance, this will probably vary depending on which chips you’re comparing. The different M2-series GPUs we tested are typically 25–30% faster than their M1 counterparts, so the performance increases from M1 to M2 to M3 are fairly even year over year. Apple claims that for workloads that utilise the new hardware acceleration features, the M3’s rendering performance can be up to 2.5 times faster than the M1’s.

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