New Apple M-series processors: features and improvements

Apple announced a special event on October 30th to present the new M series processors . The iMac Series 3 represents the first update since it was introduced , moving from the original M1, produced with 5nm technology (the same as the A14 of the iPhone 12), to the more recent M3, made with a 3nm process.

News from Apple

Apple

In addition to double the speed compared to the old processors, aesthetically absolutely nothing changes, except for the interior which, according to Apple, is totally different for the reasons you will find throughout the article. There is no shortage of architectural updates: the Series 3 of the new M processors features a 3-nanometer process and a 50% performance improvement for the CPU and 30% for the GPU, compared to the M1 and M2 models, with significant energy savings thanks to miniaturization at 3nm. However, the new range of Apple processors boast (thanks to the new graphics architecture) some specific technologies such as:

  • Dynamic Caching: In next-generation GPUs, memory is allocated dynamically, allowing for more efficient use of the GPU.
  • Mesh Shading: This technology gives game developers more power and control when processing polygons.
  • Ray Tracing: This feature models the physical properties of light to create realistic shadows and reflections in games.

Dynamic Caching or Dynamic Cache (which translates into greater efficiency)

Premise: In older GPUs, the software determines how much memory is allocated for each process, the same reasoning that is then applied to processes at compile time. As a result, you have the same amount of memory allocated to each task, and therefore an underutilized GPU.

In next-generation GPUs, which we are talking about, memory is dynamically allocated in the hardware in real time. Consequently, for each task only the amount of memory that it actually requires to be processed is used. This leads to a noticeable increase in average GPU usage and performance.

To give a simpler idea, let's consider the concept of static or dynamic content. We can observe this in web pages: written in HTML, a language not specific to web pages, they are born as static web pages. To exemplify, we can think of a newspaper: once written and printed, it will always be read in the same way, since the content remains unchanged.

With Dynamic Caching, or dynamic content, the web page adapts based on who visits it, therefore based on the user, thus making navigation more personalized and engaging. An example is shown below.

Ray-Tracing and Mesh Shading (with hardware acceleration) take everything to another level

Apple

Ray-Tracing with hardware accelerator also arrives on Mac, together with Mesh Shading, which will make developers' lives easier. Ray-Tracing models the physical properties of light as it interacts with a video game scene, for example. As a result, we have games with significantly more realistic and accurate shadows and reflections, regardless of rendering speed.

Mesh Shading, on the other hand, allows game developers to process polygons with greater power and control . This aspect could change the cards on the table when it comes to gaming on Mac.

Final thoughts on the Apple event

It is clear that the Californian company , with the M series processors, has introduced a significant change in the sector, especially with the new 3 series . These machines are definitely aimed at graphic designers, developers, video makers and all those who want to experiment the boundaries of imagination. However, it remains to be understood how the company intends to proceed in the gaming sector and how it wants to incentivize developers.

The new M3 family, which introduces the new Space Black color (already present on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models), is available in the basic version only on the 14-inch models, both basic and intermediate. The top version of the latter is already equipped with the Pro version of the processor, while only the top version of the 16-inch model starts with the Max version of the processor, thus highlighting the target audience for these machines.

Edited by Giulio Montanaro

The article New Apple M-series processors: features and improvements was written on: Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .