Apple still has a few Macs based on the M2 silicon lined up for debut later this year, but it appears the company has started testing the next-generation M3 lineup of processors. According to the latest edition of Bloomberg’s PowerOn newsletter, Apple has begun putting multiple variants of the M3 silicon through its paces.
One of the most significant upgrades is the fabrication process. Compared to the M2 lineup based on TSMC’s upgraded 5nm process, the M3 series will make a big 3nm leap. Theoretically, that translates to a significant jump in raw performance and energy efficiency. But in addition to the inherent fabrication tech upgrade, Apple is also lining up the M3 generation for a core architecture boost.
The first wave of machines with an M3 series processor inside will arrive towards the end of the year or early next year. Among them are the next-gen MacBook Air, MacBook Pro models with M3 Pro and M3 Max chips inside, and iMacs. But in the meanwhile, Apple is also said to be readying an Ultra SKU for the M2 silicon, while the future remains uncertain for the top-tier M2 Extreme variant and whether it’s destined for a Mac Pro refresh.
A major leap with a predictable trajectory
In addition to the standard M3 variant, Apple is reportedly testing the more powerful M3 Pro variant. The company also seems to be sticking with the dual-cluster design for the M2 Pro, arming it with six performance cores to do the heavy lifting and an equal number of efficiency cores to handle less demanding tasks. The M3 Pro will follow the same upgrade cadence as the M2 Pro and the M1 Pro before.
Bloomberg’s report mentions that the M3 Pro will pack 12 CPU cores, two more than its direct predecessor, which currently powers the Mac Mini and the MacBook Pro in its 14-inch and 16-inch trims. Apple is adding two extra graphics processing cores to the M3 Pro silicon, a modest upgrade over the M2 Pro. Bloomberg also speculates that the M3 Max will switch to a new design with 14 CPU cores and no less than 40 graphics cores.
Mac shoppers might also be in for a 4GB bump in the fusion memory figures inside the next-gen Macs. Unsurprisingly, Apple is also said to be testing the M3 Ultra in its secretive test labs. This top-tier silicon will reportedly pack as many as 28 CPU cores ticking alongside an 80-core GPU, a massive jump over the M1 Ultra. But keep in mind that these are early speculations at best, and Apple’s plans might change.
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