Apple just did something unprecedented with its new M3 chips

Logo for Apple's M3 chips.

Apple announced the M3 series of chips today but has changed the rollout in a significant way. In previous years, the company started with the base configuration of the chip series, be it M1 or M2. The initial release will lay the foundation for what these chips can do on entry-level devices like the MacBook Air or Mac Mini.

Intel introduces its chips in a similar manner, starting its annual renewal of laptop chips with its entry-level stuff first.

But at its “Scary Fast” launch event, Apple went in a completely different direction. By announcing the M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max together, Apple has played its hands full. Apart from the M3 Ultra, which is probably being saved for 2024, we now know the performance limits of Apple’s new line of chips.

But if Apple really wants to make a splash with the M3, it needs to step up with performance. And it did exactly that.

From the looks of it, the M3 generation Macs won’t offer a more refreshed design. This means that display will have to be the primary driver of sales for Apple in 2023 and 2024. Luckily, this isn’t your average generational refinement. The M3 is based on a 3nm process, which offers a significant jump in efficiency and performance-per-watt over its predecessor. Even before Apple revealed it, we were all expecting the M2 to be a more impressive generational leap over the M1.

And where better to show off that extra performance than its 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro? These laptops were already extremely powerful and specialized, but buyers of these Macs will always gravitate towards more power. This is especially true when you have features worth showing off, like hardware-based ray tracing, mesh shading, and dynamic caching. As it sounds, these GPU features are at the center of huge leaps in performance, especially on the graphics front.

Apple's M3 chip family.

However, going from M2 to M3 on a MacBook Air is very difficult. The extra performance afforded by the M3 is more or less wasted on people buying a MacBook Air. Given how powerful the M1 and M2 already were, the M3 doesn’t offer much of an incentive to upgrade — especially if you’ll be able to find an M1 or M2 MacBook Air at a discount.

Don’t think that the base M3 was left untouched, however. First of all, it is being used in the new entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro that replaces the older 13-inch MacBook Pro. I also got a chance to see in the demo just how powerful even the base M3 in these MacBook Pros will be. pie lie, which managed to run the game at maximum settings and still average over 60 frames per second. The MetalFX upscaling is helping there, but it’s still incredibly impressive.

Then, there’s the refreshed 24-inch iMac, which was previously stuck only on the M1 and is now being brought to the M3 as well. Although we’re still waiting for a larger, more powerful iMac, many potential buyers may be attracted by the extra performance provided by the M3. It’s Apple’s only option for that form factor, making it a preferred choice.

Overall, Apple was Intelligent Rolling out the M3 this way. Whether or not this type of rollout will continue remains to be seen, but it seemed like Apple’s best effort to fight against the sharp decline in Mac sales this year. Nothing will bring them back to the success of Apple Silicon’s early Mac boom, but it’s Apple doing its best for this generation of chips, and it’s key to building a long-term road map for future chips.

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