Apple launches ARM-based M3, M3 Pro, M3 Max chips with industry-first 3nm process, along with updated MacBook Pro laptops, iMacs
Apple has rolled out the third generation of its ARM-based Apple Silicon chips, the M3, in three versions less than a year after the launch of two higher-end versions of the second-generation chip.
The chip is the industry’s first to use the 3-nanometre manufacturing process, which condenses more transistors into a smaller space, boosting performance while maintaining efficiency and thus battery life.
Apple’s in-house chips have been praised for their performance and long battery life since Apple switched to them from Intel chips in 2020, and at the time the processors helped boost sales, along with working-from-home trends during pandemic lockdowns.
The new chips, which improve performance and graphics capabilities, are intended to boost the sales of new MacBook Pro laptops and iMac desktops running them ahead of the end-of-year holiday season.
The base M3 chip has eight main processing cores, with an additional 10 graphics cores, while the M3 Pro has an additional four main processing cores and up to 18 graphics cores, and the M3 Max has 16 main cores and up to 40 graphics cores.
In a half-hour recorded announcement Apple said the M3 is 35 percent faster than the M1 for standard computing tasks and 65 percent faster at graphics.
The firm said its fastest laptop is now 11 times faster than a top-end Intel laptop.
Apple also launched a low-end MacBook Pro model running the basic M3 as well as a high-end model running the M3 Pro and M3 Max versions.
All retain the MacBook Pro’s 22 hours of battery life while increasing power, Apple said, while the range also adds a new “space black” colour option.
A new iMac all-in-one system, the first update to the line since 2021, now runs the M3 chip, making it twice as fast as the previous model with added graphics performance. The new iMac comes in a range of colours, including pink, green and silver.
Apple said the new systems can be ordered right away and will ship next week.
Qualcomm last week announced an ARM-based desktop chip of its own, the Snapdragon X Elite, that it said beats the M2 Max, and which is scheduled to appear in computers in mid-2024.
Nvidia and AMD are also working on processors based on architecture from ARM, which was initially aimed at mobile devices and, as such, is highly power-efficient.
Apple launched its M2 processor in June of last year, with the M2 Pro and M2 Max following in January.