Apple’s latest M3 Pro chip in the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro has 25% less memory bandwidth than the M1 Pro and M2 Pro chips used in similar models from the previous two generations.
Based on the latest 3nm technology and featuring an all-new GPU architecture, the M3 series chips are said to represent the fastest and most power-efficient evolution of Apple silicon to date. For example, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M3 Pro chip are up to 40% faster than the 16-inch model with the M1 Pro chip, according to Apple.
However, according to Apple’s hardware specifications, the M3 Pro system on a chip (SoC) features a memory bandwidth of 150 GB/s, compared to 200 GB/s in the previous M1 Pro and M2 Pro models. As for the M3 Max, Apple says it’s capable of “up to 400 GB/s,” referring to the fact that the mini M3 Max with a 14-core CPU and 30-core GPU has a memory bandwidth of 300 GB/s. Just a second, while the equivalent M2 Max model with a 12-core CPU and 30-core GPU has a bandwidth of 400GB/s, just like the more powerful 12-core CPU and 38-core GPU frequency.
Notably, Apple has also changed the core proportions of the top-tier M3 Pro chip compared to its direct predecessor. The M3 Pro with 12-core CPU has 6 performance cores (vs. 8 performance cores in the 12-core M2 Pro) and 6 efficiency cores (vs. 4 efficiency cores in the 12-core M2 Pro), while the GPU has 18 cores (versus 19 on the equivalent M2 Pro chip).
Additionally, while the M3 chip’s 16-core neural engine has the same number of cores as Apple featured in the 3nm-based A17 Pro chip that debuted in the iPhone 15 Pro series in September, it’s comparatively weaker on paper. In terms of maximum achievable throughput, which is measured in trillions of operations per second (TOPS).
According to Apple, the M3 Neural Engine is capable of producing 18 TOPS, while the A17 Pro Neural Engine is capable of producing 35 TOPS. It’s hard to say for sure, but it’s possible that the iPhone 15 Pro will require a higher-performance neural engine for features like computational photography and Face ID, while the M3 could compensate in other areas like machine learning by taking advantage of additional GPU cores.
Taken together, it’s currently unclear what real difference these changes make to the M3’s performance when compared to equivalent previous Apple chips in various usage scenarios, especially given that the latest processors include new dynamic cache allocation technology that only ensures the exact amount of memory. The necessary memory is used for each task.
This ambiguity is especially true because Apple has chosen to compare the new M3 Pro and M3 Max chips to the M1 Pro and M1 Max, rather than the equivalent M2 variants that debuted in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros in January. We hope to learn more in time when the first comprehensive third-party standards become available.
The new MacBook Pro models are available to order now, and will begin arriving to customers and launching in stores on Tuesday, November 7. Be sure to check out our MacBook Pro announcement coverage for all the details.
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