Apple’s powerful M3 processor goes into production later in 2023


Apple M3 processor
The wait for the Apple M3 processor goes on.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Production on the much-anticipated Apple M3 processor will begin in the second half of 2023, according to a reliable source of Apple leaks. The chip is expected to bring a significant performance boost.

The launch will apparently not be in time for the 15-inch MacBook Air rumored to reach store shelves in the next few months.

Out with the M2, in with the M3

Apple brought out the M1 processor in late 2020, and the M2 followed in about 18 months later, in 2022. That’s left people wondering how quickly Apple will be able to update its processors — is 18 months typical or an anomaly?

We might have an answer. Sort of.

“Mass production of M3 chip is anticipated to begin in 2H23, slightly ahead of M3 Pro and M3 Max,” said Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with TF International Securities who has sources in Apple’s supply chain.

So it seems the initial Macs running the new processor won’t be out before late summer or sometime in the fall.

Smaller is better

The M2 family of chips is made with a 5nm process, but M3 manufacture will use a 3nm process. Shrinking the components allows them to work faster while generating less waste heat.

Apple and chip-maker TSMC had hoped to use the 3nm process for the M2, but problems delayed the introduction. The bugs have been worked out and Apple is reportedly buying the Taiwanese foundry’s complete output of 3nm chips. These are expected to go not only in into future Mac models but also iPhone and iPad.

M3 likely going into iMac but not new MacBook Air

The first M2-powered computers — including the redesigned MacBook Air — launched in July 2022. Macs with the new chip will be out more than a year later.

That first M3-powered computer is likely to be a 24-inch iMac launching later in 2023, as the current version of this all-in-one desktop still ruins an M1 from 2020.

But the 13-inch MacBook Air might also get a speed boost from the new chip. Apple could release a new version with an M3, just as the 2023 MacBook Pro is simply the 2021 model with newer, faster processors.

But one eagerly awaited model won’t launch with the new chip. Numerous leaks point to the first 15-inch MacBook Pro hitting store shelves soon, and it allegedly won’t wait for the M3.

“The new 15″ MacBook model should be named MacBook Air,” Kuo also said Thursday. “The upcoming 15″ MacBook Air will feature the M2 series.”

The M3 Pro and M3 Max the Kuo mentioned will power future MacBook Pro models likely launching in 2024.


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