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While Apple is preparing new Macs for 2023, their higher-end M3 Powered Macs are sliding into 2024

1 cover To M3 or not M3 - That is the Question - Not shakespear

Apple is reportedly ramping up testing of new Macs with processors on par with the current M2 chip, making headway on key new machines that could help reverse a sales decline that a recent IDC report claimed hit -40.5% in Q1 2023. This followed a decline of 27.8% in Q4 2022. According to the new Bloomberg report, Apple is counting on the new Macs to entice shoppers after the worst Mac slump since the dot-com bust in 2000.

The Bloomberg report further notes that "the new Macs will be a welcome arrival. The test logs indicate Apple is preparing a laptop with processor specifications similar to current models but with a larger, higher-resolution display. This model is likely to be the 15-inch MacBook Air that Apple has been planning to introduce this year." The question becomes: will it be powered by an entry M3 processor or not? Bloomberg plays it safe with no commitment. 

Mark Gurman adds that "The screen resolution for the laptop in testing — codenamed “Mac 15,3” — is equal to that of the 14-inch high-end MacBook Pro. That would mean that the larger Air would run the same resolution as the MacBook Pro, but with slightly less sharpness. That approach is in line with how Apple has differentiated its consumer and pro-focused laptops in the past.

Bigger changes to the Mac will come later with the release with the first version of their M3 chip, which will represent a transition to a 3-nanometer production process from the current 5-nanometer standard. The newer chip technology produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC).

Apple is planning to refresh the 14" and 16" MacBook Pros in the first half of 2024 as well with higher-end versions of the M3 chip. For more, read the full BNN Bloomberg report.

For those that could stretch out their current Macs until the M3 processor arrives will reap the benefit of better performance over the current M2. The M3 performance gains will range from 11% to 32% and energy savings range from 12% to 30%.

The M2 currently offers an 8 core CPU with the MacBook Air. The M2 MacBook Pro offers a 12-Core CPU. As for the core count for the M3, a rumor posted back in November 2021 made the wild claim that the M3 processor could deliver a 40 core CPU for the MacBook Pro. A less powerful M3 chip was planned for the MacBook Air. A 40-core MacBook Pro, however, seems to be a bit of a stretch. Though only time tell.

On another front, Qualcomm's Oryon processors designed to compete with Apple's mobile processors will reportedly show up in systems at CES 2024 with unknown release dates. Qualcomm may provide publicly supply the specs for the new processors sometime in H2 2023. Whether Apple is holding back their M3 until Oryon specs are made public is unknown at this time.

To be sure, Apple's M3 and Qualcomm's Oryon will be competing for bragging rights for the most powerful mobile chip in 2024. The new chip race may also spur on new form factors that have been in the works for years, such as the foldable tablet-notebook form factor. Exciting the PC market back to life may take more than a power boost alone.  

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