When Will We See Apple’s Next-Gen M3 Chip?
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While earlier rumors suggested Apple would debut its next generation of Apple Silicon, the M3 chip, at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), a more recent spate of reports over the past couple of months has thrown some cold water on that. However, that doesn’t mean the M3 chip isn’t coming — it’s just going to be a bit later than we first expected.
Apple is said to be working on a 15-inch MacBook Air for a likely launch at WWDC 2023, and there’s every indication that it’s still coming. However, while some believed that would come with the new M3 chip, alongside a pair of upgraded 13-inch MacBooks Air, it appears that it will instead pack in the same M2 chips as last year’s 13-inch models.
It’s unclear whether Apple ever intended to have an M3 chip ready for WWDC, but reports from the supply chain seem to indicate that the chip was postponed by a combination of the mass production schedule at Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC), which manufactures nearly all of Apple’s chips, and Apple’s own read on current market conditions.
That second point suggests that Apple may have decided June wasn’t really the best time to release a new M3 chip onto the market. Whether it would have made that call if TSMC was able to crank out those chips on schedule is another question, but no matter which way you look at it, the M3 chip isn’t coming until this fall — at the earliest.
Which Mac Will Be the First to Get the M3?
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple is already testing the M3 chips in “next-generation Macs,” which indicates the M3 chip design has been finalized and it’s just a matter of mass-producing enough of them to equip the millions of Macs that Apple expects to sell.
That also aligns with other reports we’ve heard. Apple has been working on the M3 chip design since at least late 2021, six months before the first M2 chips debuted. In March, Gurman also reported that Apple was already developing and testing a prototype for a new M3-powered 24-inch iMac that he said could be “one of the company’s first M3-based machines.”
We don’t yet have any insight into when the new iMac will arrive, but by all reports, it won’t be a major redesign but rather a souped-up version of the original Apple Silicon-powered iMac released two years ago. At most, Apple may offer it in some new color options.
However, if Apple indeed plans to lead with the 24-inch iMac when introducing the M3 chip, that suggests it’s probably the next significant Mac release on the roster. Apple could release it at a fall event or slip it out via a press release as soon as the M3 chip is ready to go, which could be midsummer. The new iMac won’t be big news on its own, and while Apple may want to herald the M3 chip’s new capabilities, it could easily pre-announce the new chip at WWDC to get developers on board, hype it up there and then release the new M3-powered Macs as they become ready.
What to Expect from Apple’s M3 Chip
According to Gurman, Apple has “at least one version” of the M3 chip in testing that features 12 CPU cores — six high-performance and six high-efficiency — 18 GPU cores, and 36GB of RAM. That info doesn’t come from any sources inside Apple but rather from logs shared by an App Store developer.
Since part of Apple’s testing procedures for its chips involves ensuring compatibility with third-party apps, it’s necessary for it to download and install those apps, and inevitable that its test systems are going to report some of their specs back to those developers’ apps through standard analytics reporting.
Before we get too excited, though, Gurman adds that this chip is likely the base-level M3 Pro. The 18 GPU core configuration is still a nice increase over the 16-core M2 Pro, but it’s less clear where the standard M3 will come in.
The M3 chips are expected to be fabricated using a 3-nanometer (3nm) process, which will allow for a higher number of transistors, thereby increasing the performance of each core. Hence, even if the base M3 includes the same number of cores as the current M2, it will still see a healthy performance boost.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]