Apple has already started to develop its next-generation ‘M3’ chips

Apple has already started to develop its next-generation 'M3' chips

Everyone knew when Apple unveiled the original M1 processor last autumn that a second, more powerful successor was on the way for Apple’s high-end Macs. Many speculated that it would be dubbed the “M2,” while others speculated that it would be dubbed the “M1X” after Apple’s more powerful A-series iPad CPUs.

It’s safe to say we now have a fairly decent notion of how Apple will approach its M-series chip range, so the revelation that it’s already working on a “M3” processor for 2023 shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In this situation, though, it appears that the term is even more suitable.

Of course, Apple surprised us by doing neither. Instead, we got two more powerful versions of the M1: the M1 Pro and M1 Max. These were both souped-up versions of the original M1, differing primarily in the number of GPU cores and maximum memory capacities.

To be clear, all of Apple’s M1 chips use identical CPU and GPU cores. The M1 Pro and M1 Max simply offer more of them. Recent benchmarks have generally borne this out, with the performance gains of the M1 Pro/Max over the M1 being directly proportional to the number of additional cores.

The Future of Apple Silicon

Either way, this has left the field clear for the next generation of Apple Silicon to be dubbed the M2, and it seems apparent that this will be the beginning of a trend. The M2 is expected to show up in next year’s MacBook Air lineup, rumoured to arrive next spring. This will almost certainly be followed by an M2 Pro and M2 Max for Apple’s next MacBook Pro and higher-end iMac models.

In fact, the only real question mark that remains is whether Apple will produce an even more powerful chip for the Mac Pro when it gets around to moving that beast over to Apple Silicon.

While the M1 Max-equipped 16-inch MacBook Pro can already hold its own against lower-end Mac Pro configurations, the fully-loaded 28-core Intel Xeon model is still far more powerful when it comes to multi-core performance.

Leaving the Mac Pro aside, however, since that’s clearly in a class entirely by itself, it’s fair to say that Apple’s real work will continue along the same lines. The M1 Max in the MacBook Pro already makes it the most powerful laptop on the planet, but Apple has no intention of sitting on its haunches. TSMC has already kicked off pilot production of chips built using an even smaller 3nm process, which the Taiwanese fabricator is calling “N3.”

TSMC is expected to be ready for volume production of chips using this new 3nm process by the end of 2022, which means it could have 3nm chips ready in the first quarter of 2023 — in time for the next next-generation MacBook Air.

The News Highlights

  • Apple has already started to develop its next-generation ‘M3’ chips
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