In the processor wars, Apple increased the stakes just when it appeared that a rival would outmaneuver the Cupertino, California-based business.

During an evening event that was pre-recorded and live-streamed on Monday, Apple revealed three new CPUs that outperform earlier iterations of its hardware in terms of both performance and power management.

It also said that the processors will be available in upgraded versions of its iMac all-in-one desktop and MacBook Pro premium laptops.

The new M3 processor supports up to 24GB of unified memory and features an 8-core CPU and a 10-core GPU. According to Apple, the M3’s GPU is 65% quicker than the M1, and its CPU is 35% faster than the M1, the company’s initial chip.

Apple has also announced the M3 Pro, which has an 18-core GPU and 12-core CPU, for applistas seeking more power. Its CPU and GPU are 20% and 40% faster, respectively, than those of the M1 Pro, and it can handle up to 36GB of unified memory.

With a 16-core CPU and 40-core GPU, the M3 Max is the highest model in the new chip lineup. It has a CPU that is 30% faster and a GPU that is 50% faster than the M1 Max, and it can address up to 128GB of unified memory.

The unified memory architecture of the M3 Max supports up to 128GB of fast, unified memory, making tasks once impossible on a laptop now achievable for professionals, according to Apple.

Additionally, Apple claims that the improved neural engine in all three processors is 60% quicker than the one in the M1 series.

Kevin Krewell, a principal analyst at Tirias Research, a high-tech research and consultancy business located in San Jose, California, asserted that users of M2 MacBooks could find a message in the Apple comparisons.

Apple kept contrasting the M3 with the M1 and previous Intel versions. That implies that upgrading from an M2 MacBook is not worthwhile if you currently own one, he told FluidGeek.

Qualcomm’s Rival Chip

The Snapdragon X Elite platform, which is based on an Oryon processor with 12 cores and uses one-third the power of Intel’s top laptop right now, was unveiled by Qualcomm just before the Apple presentation.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 CPU was handily surpassed in performance by the X Elite at 80w, as the firm demonstrated at the last Qualcomm summit.

The conclusion is that Qualcomm will be in good shape and the M3 won’t be significantly better than the latter, according to Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst of Technalysis Research, a technology market research and consulting firm based in Foster City, California. “At this point, it’s hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison on the chips,” O’Donnell told FluidGeek.

Benchmarks and real-world performance will determine how the Qualcomm processor compares against the M3, stated Ross Rubin, chief analyst at Reticle Research, a New York City consumer technology consultancy business.

He said to FluidGeek, “With the Snapdragon chip, there was a lot of focus on the CPU, which isn’t something Qualcomm has historically focused on as much.” “They have concentrated on developing their neural processor, architecture, and graphics engine.”

“Not only for games and graphics applications, where you would expect it, but because that has become an important part of working with AI applications, Apple has focused a lot on their graphics processor,” he went on.

Staying Ahead of the Contest

The M3 series, according to Gene Munster, managing partner of Minneapolis venture capital company Deepwater Asset Management, would put Apple one step ahead of its rivals.

The MacBook Pro featuring the M3 Max allows for the advanced manipulation and rendering of intricate 3D assets in Cinema 4D, utilizing Maxon Redshift.

“In the IT industry, staying one step ahead of rivals is essential. “Speed is crucial,” he said to FluidGeek. “Saying, ‘Keep ahead of the competition,’ is easy.'” Though it’s difficult, Apple is taking such action.

But Mark N. Vena, president and lead analyst of San Jose, California’s SmartTech Research, identified one advantage Qualcomm’s platform will have over Apple’s M3 devices.

“Apple silicon performance can be had in a much lower-priced machine with the Qualcomm solutions, which will end up in low to moderately-priced PCs,” he told FluidGeek.

Starting at $1,599, the 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro is followed by the M3 Pro ($1,999) and M3 Max ($3,199). The Snapdragon X Elite PCs won’t be accessible until sometime in the second quarter of 2024, but the MacBooks will be available starting next week.

The new iMac, available in seven vibrant colors, features a slim design and boasts up to 2x faster performance with its M3 chip compared to the previous generation with M1.

Munster stated, “They need to get people excited about the iMac because it’s a tired product.” “It can increase sales if it is updated with a new chip that is noticeably faster.”

He went on, “People have been delaying purchasing an iMac for the last six months because it was time for an upgrade.” They had been waiting for a very long time. With its announcement, Apple is expected to experience a surge in sales.

Ideal Time for a Refresh

The timing of the MacBook and iMac line revamp is ideal, since Apple’s non-iPhone hardware has been under revenue pressure, according to Dipanjan Chatterjee, vice president and lead analyst at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based market research firm Forrester.

“We want to recover some of the income decrease by encouraging both new and existing customers to renew their Mac devices,” he told FluidGeek.

“Apple’s Halloween release positions the company well for a new Mac to grace Christmas tree bottoms and to maintain the new iPhone business,” he continued. “Although the absence of a new iPad is going to lower spirits, Apple could use some assistance in a revenue segment that has seen a 20% year-over-year quarterly decline.” The iPad is a more popular present than a laptop.

Munster continued, “People buy technology when it’s fresh.” Apple has to improve the hardware in order to stop the drop in Mac sales. They are acting in this manner here.

“Mac accounts for 10% of their sales,” he went on. Throughout the June quarter, it fell by 7%. It is probably going to drop by 26% in the September quarter. They have to take this action in order to restore growth.

He did point out that despite a decline in Mac sales, Apple has increased its market share. He declared, “The PC industry is still feeling the effects of the Covid hangover.” “That will most likely continue for the next six months.”

Dissuading Users of Intel

Artificial intelligence was notably absent from the Apple presentation.

“The selling point of these machines is not their ability to perform artificial intelligence,” Munster stated. “The only way to obtain these faster-than-anything chips is to purchase a Mac, according to their selling point.”

According to Rubin, one of the event’s themes was encouraging people to abandon Intel architecture.

He said, “The quicker Apple completes that, the quicker they can discontinue support for it.” “You’re starting to notice that features on Apple silicon that you don’t get with Intel are available if you upgrade to the latest version of macOS.”

“Those machines will eventually be left behind, the same way the PowerPCs were left behind when Apple switched to Intel,” he said.