Apple's upcoming 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air devices will reportedly feature an M3 chip. According to 9to5Mac, the tech giant is also planning to release an updated version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 chip.
More computer for less power
We already know what to expect: more computational performance at lower wattage than before, essentially enabling Apple’s devices to do more work for less energy.
How generous? According to claimed* Geekbench scores, we’re looking at a 20% performance boost on the upcoming iPhone chip, A17. That boost will evidence itself in useful features, such as swift image editing and even more beautiful visual effects.
That means it’s reasonable to imagine Macs equipped with those processors will see similar performance gains.
Strategic investments, steady road map
That strategic importance is reflected in Apple’s investment. TSMC held a ceremony Dec. 29 at its Fab 18 new construction site in the Southern Taiwan Science Park to announce mass production of 3nm chips had begun, estimating these would deliver $1.5 trillion revenue within the next five years.
Subsequently, Digitimes claimed Apple purchased chip manufacturer TSMC’s entire yield of 3nm processors, giving it a unique position as the only manufacturer able to ship mobile devices and computers equipped with 3nm chips in mass market quantities.
A little contextual information
Introducing the MacBook Air running the M2 chip in 2022, Apple claimed this would run some key Photoshop transitions five times faster than on an Intel Mac — and 20% faster than on the previous M1 systems. Now we’re looking at another 20% or so improvement.
It’s quite clear Apple’s silicon teams are forging ahead, and as the computational performance per watt improves in every chip, this also means these new systems will compete even more aggressively with high-end systems.
Leaked A17 benchmarks seem promising
The leaker states single-core scores of 3,019 and multi-core score of 7,860 on Geekbench 6. That’s up on iPhone 14 Pro’s A16 Bionic, which achieves 2,504 and 6,314, respectively, but lower than earlier claimed leaked scores of 3,986 and 8,841.
Though these scores may not be accurate or genuine, but they do seem to marry closely to what’s expected from the shift to 3nm chips. The processors are around 35% more efficient, according to Digitimes.
That’s for the iPhone. Apple is also expected to introduce its first M3 Mac processors this year and most speculation suggests these will also be based on a 3nm process. Just as the M1 chips are a grown-up version of Apple’s mobile processors, the M3 will make use of some shared assets.
Where is this puck going?
Not only is Apple about to carve out a unique advantage as the sole vendor with 3nm chips in quantity, but it is also in position to build incremental improvements on those processors, with an apparent road map for new processor designs next year.
We can’t know for sure if this means Apple plans to upgrade some or all its Macs with new chips every year, as it already does iPhones, but the frequency with which it introduces new chips says it might.
Apple's developers conference, WWDC, is yet to be announced for 2023 but we'd put serious money on it being around the second week of June, as is traditional. It's also tipped to play host to the company's mixed reality plans, not least the prospective launch of its much-rumoured AR/VR headset - tentatively called the Apple Reality One.