Will Mac receive a big wave of updates? Apple’s press conference, where you don’t have to stay up late, may release these new products

"One More Thing" may be late but it's coming. Apple's last new product launch event of the year is coming.

"This time, we'll see you in the morning." Apple has taken the rare opportunity to take care of people who go to bed early and will hold an online press conference at 8 am on October 31st, Beijing time.

There are many Easter eggs hidden in the invitation. For example, the Apple Logo finally transformed into a Happy Mac smiley face, which is the common Finder icon, almost clearly indicating that this will be an autumn conference focusing on Mac.

And "Scary fast" also implies a substantial improvement in the performance of the Mac computer M3 series chips. Interestingly, the day of the press conference coincided with Halloween, and some netizens joked that they had never seen Cook wearing a Halloween costume to hold a press conference.

The M3 chip is expected to be the protagonist of this conference. The biggest suspense is which Mac will be the first to be equipped with Apple's new generation of "king chip"?

Skip M2, equip M3, iMac performance leaps forward

In July, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman "spoiled" in advance that Apple might launch its first Mac equipped with an M3 chip in October. In his opinion at the time, the first beneficiaries of the M3 chip would only be the next generation iMac, 13-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro.

In terms of size, iMac may not change much. It is more of a specification upgrade on the existing 24-inch model, and a 32-inch iMac will not appear until at least the end of 2024.

In fact, the last release of a new iMac can be traced back to April 30, 2021, more than two years ago. At that time, the iMac was still equipped with the M1 chip.

In the past two years, Apple has successively launched M2 versions of MacBook Air and Mac mini, and also upgraded Mac Pro and Mac studio to the most powerful M2 Max and M2 Ultra versions, but it has never updated the iMac.

For a time, news spread that the awkwardly positioned iMac was abandoned by Apple. Some people thought that the iMac's positioning was unclear and similar to other products, or that compared to the Mac mini, the Mac mini was more cost-effective, so the iMac Updates every other year are more about making way for other products.

At this conference, once the new iMac is released, the rumors will be self-defeating. Regarding the M3 iMac, Gurman broke the news that Apple put it into production a few months ago, and the probability of the new iMac being unveiled is extremely high.

It is worth mentioning that the M2 chip released by Apple uses the second-generation 5-nanometer process technology and integrates a total of 20 billion transistors, which is 25% more than the M1 chip. The overall multi-thread processing performance is 18% higher than the M1 chip. The performance of the graphics processor is increased by 35%, and the memory bandwidth is also increased by 50%, which improves the performance of the chip in all aspects.

Compared with the M2 chip, the performance of Apple's M3 chip is quite impressive. According to MacRumors, Apple's M3 chip, codenamed lbiza, scored 3472 points in the single-core benchmark and 13676 points in the multi-core benchmark.

Comparing this score with the M2 Max chip equipped in the 2023 16-inch MacBook Pro (single-core 2793 points / multi-core 14488 points), you will find that the M3 chip's single-core score is 24% higher, and the multi-core score is only 6% lower.

And if you switch to the M2 Pro chip (single-core 2661 points / multi-core 12215 points), the single-core score of the M3 chip is 31% higher and the multi-core score is 12% higher. The performance is quite excellent.

Interestingly, if the iMac is indeed equipped with an M3 chip, it also means that the iMac will become the only "missed fish" of the M2 series chip, and the performance will be directly "super doubled". It is increasingly believed that the new iMac will be like this According to the invitation letter, it achieves "Scary fast" excellent performance.

M3 is here, can MacBook Pro arrive as expected?

The biggest highlight of this conference is the MacBook Pro equipped with M3 series chips.

In August, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman broke the news that Apple was testing the M3 Max chip. The new M3 Max chip will be equipped with a 16-core CPU and a 40-core GPU, which will also be the most powerful chip in Apple's history.

The 16-core CPU includes 12 high-performance cores and 4 high-energy-efficiency cores. The 12 high-performance cores are used to process tasks that require high computing power such as video editing, and the other 4 high-energy-efficiency cores are used for low-intensity tasks such as browsing the web. application.

For comparison, the Apple M2 Max only has 12 CPU cores and 38 GPU cores. In addition, according to developer test logs, the M3 base chip will have the same configuration as the M2 chip, with an 8-core CPU and up to 10-core GPU options, while the M3 Pro chip will start with a 12-core CPU and 18-core GPU.

At that time, Gurman said that Apple would begin the transition from the M3 basic chip in October, and that the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros would not be upgraded to new versions equipped with M3 Pro and M3 Max chips until at least 2024.

Early this morning, Gurman's speculation took a "U-turn" and stated on X (formerly Twitter) that the new high-end MacBook Pro is in mass production, suggesting that a high-end MacBook Pro will be released at the conference next week.

In addition, Gurman also revealed that the new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air are under development and will be equipped with M3 chips, but they will not be released until 2024. At the same time, new Mac mini and Mac Studio products will also have to wait until at least 2024.

▲Apple 15-inch MacBook Air. Picture from: Bloomberg

Gurman is not the only one to change his attitude. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also overturned his previous conclusion and claimed that the MacBook Pro equipped with M3 chip will be the biggest focus of next week's conference.

A few days ago, Ming-Chi Kuo also pointed out that Apple will not release a new MacBook computer equipped with an M3 chip. In his view, the key reason why Apple does not release new products is to clear inventory before the release of new products next year and to re-formulate product and sales strategies for 2024.

Given that no new products were coming, he also predicted at that time that Apple's MacBook computer shipments in the fourth quarter of 2023 would fall by 25%-35% compared with the same period last year, and that Apple's overall shipments for the whole year in 2023 would drop to 17 million units. , an overall decrease of more than 30%.

Combined with Gurman's latest revelations, MacBook Pro inventory has begun to "dry up." There are various signs that the new MacBook Pro equipped with M3 chips is expected to be unveiled next week.

In addition, according to Ming-Chi Kuo, if the M3 chip does not ultimately increase MacBook shipments, then the probability of launching a "newly designed MacBook Pro in 2025" will increase, and it is not ruled out that Apple will consider launching a "more affordable MacBook." .

Will the M3 be the savior of the Mac?

In 2020, the M1 chip was put into a Mac computer for the first time. The newly designed ARM architecture, powerful CPU processing power, excellent energy efficiency, dedicated neural network engine and other breakthrough innovations have broken the performance limits of previous laptops.

Probably the most obvious perception of users is that the laptop can really be used all day long without being plugged in. Johny Srouji, Apple's senior vice president of hardware technologies, said:

For more than ten years, we have been developing more advanced chips for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. The M1 chip is built on this foundation and brings Mac into a new era.

Now, as time goes by, self-developed chips form an indispensable part of Apple's ecosystem. Indeed, in terms of single-threaded CPU performance, the M1 chip can rival or even exceed some of Intel's notebook-level Core i5 and i7 chips of the same period.

However, the overall performance of the initial M1 Mac under complex workloads is not fully comparable to high-end x86 laptops. This is mainly because the software ecosystem takes time to optimize and adapt. Although the "toothpaste squeeze" of the M2 chip cannot boost the sluggish Mac shipments, it also buys Apple enough transition time.

Bob Borchers, Apple's vice president of product marketing, once said in an interview that Apple's focus and goal for future business growth is to gradually replace old Intel Macs in the hands of old users with regular updates of M chips. But this is obviously not a simple matter.

Since the beginning of this year, a chill has pervaded the entire PC market. The latest report from IDC, a well-known analyst organization, shows that global PC market shipments fell 7.6% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2023, and only HP among the top five global shipment manufacturers achieved positive growth.

Apple's Mac computer shipments also fell by 23.1% year-on-year, making it the largest manufacturer among them. What is certain is that even if it is as powerful as Apple, it will be difficult to withstand the cold wave of PC. If the M3 chip arrives as scheduled next week, it may become an important weapon for Mac to compete in the stock market.

Whenever Apple releases a new generation of self-developed chips, the corresponding major version update of macOS will also undergo in-depth optimization to maximize the hardware potential of the new chip.

How will the native application of professional software such as Final Cut Pro and new innovative application scenarios such as AI maximize the use of M3's computing resources? For ordinary consumers, what aspects will the M3 chip start from to improve the user experience?

We also look forward to finding answers to these questions at next week’s press conference.

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