Apple already testing M3 chips while we’re awaiting M2-based MacBook Air

Apple’s M3 Mac systems coming in late 2023 and early 2024 reportedly include new iMacs, MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs. No word on new Mac Pros though.

A 13/inch MacBook Pro with Apple's M1 chip, with its lid open
M3-based MacBook Pros are in testing | Image: Apple
  • Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims Apple has begun testing the new M3 chips for future Macs, including a future high-end MacBook Pro.
  • At the same time, the company is rumored to announce a new MacBook Air notebook at the upcoming WWDC in June, powered by the current M2 chip.
  • The M3 is built on TSMC’s 3nm node, which allows for smaller transistors that yield more cores, increased performance and improved battery life.

The upcoming Apple M3 Mac chips are in testing

In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter on Bloomberg, Gurman said that the upcoming M3 chips will have additional cores and memory compared to their M2 counterparts. The M3 chips, Gurman believes, will power new Mac computers that are scheduled to arrive “toward the end of the year or early next year.”

M3 Macs would include the following machines:

  • M3-based iMac
  • M3-based low-end MacBook Pro
  • M3-based high-end MacBook Pro
  • M3-based MacBook Air

Having experienced a slowdown in Mac sales in the United States and China, these new M3-powered systems should prompt upgrades and spur new sales.

This comes as we expect unveils of new M2-based computers at the company’s upcoming developer-only WWDC event that runs June 5-9. Gurman thinks that the first 15-inch MacBook Air with an M2 chip “is set to arrive this summer,” but he wouldn’t say whether the company might announce it at the WWDC.

Claimed Apple M3 specifications

Based on App Store logs obtained from a developer, it would seem that the base-level M3 Pro being tested has 12 processing cores (six high-performance cores and six efficiency ones), 18 graphics cores and 36 gigabytes of unified memory.

M3 Pro (in testing):

  • 12 CPU cores (six high-performance cores/six power-efficient cores)
  • 18 GPU cores
  • 36 GB of unified memory

M2 Pro (released January 2023):

  • 10 CPU cores (six high-performance cores/four power-efficient cores)
  • 16 GPU cores
  • 32 GB of unified memory

M1 Pro (released October 2021):

  • Eight CPU cores (six high-performance cores/two power-efficient cores)
  • 14 GPU cores
  • 32 GB of unified memory

If true, the baseline M3 Pro should have two extra power-efficient CPU cores, two more graphics cores and 5GB more memory than the M2 Pro.

What about the next Mac Studio and Mac Pro?

Apple's Studio Display and Mac Studio with keyboard and mouse
The Mac Studio’s fate is unclear | Image: Iewek Gnos/Unsplash

According to Gurman:

If the M3 Max were to get a similar gain as the M2 Max (compared with the M1 Max), that would mean Apple’s next high-end MacBook Pro chip could come with up to 14 CPU cores and more than a whopping 40 graphics cores.

And this:

Speculating even further, that would mean the M3 Ultra chip could top out at 28 CPU cores and sport more than 80 graphics cores, up from a 64-core limit on the M1 Ultra.

Those high-end M3 Pro and Max chips also could be perfect candidates for the next Mac Studio and the iMac Pro’s revival. The Mac Studio’s fate is unknown at this state. We’re still waiting for an Apple silicon-powered Mac Pro, and it’s unclear how the next Mac Pro and Mac Studio would fit into Apple’s lineup.

Some people have speculated that the Mac Studio is but a stopgap measure to keep Apple’s pro customers in the ecosystem until the Mac Pro receives an Apple silicon treatment, but there’s no evidence to back up that claim.