When Apple launched the M2 chip in the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air at WWDC, there were few changes from the M1. Built with the same architecture and 5nm process, the chip delivers predictable advantages over the M1, and we assumed the same would be true for the more expensive M2 variants: namely the M2 Pro, M2 Max and M2 Ultra.
Now we’re not so sure. A new report from DigiTimes claims that Apple has “booked TSMC capacity for its upcoming 3nm M3 and M2 Pro processors.” While it’s no surprise that the M3 will use a 3nm process, we expected the entire M2 run to follow the same 5nm process that Apple used with the M1.
If Apple switches to a 3nm process for the M2 Pro (and presumably the M2 Max and M2 Ultra too), upcoming updates to the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, Mac Studio, high-end Mac mini and Mac Pro could bring bigger speed boosts than we got with the M2. Based on our benchmarks, the M2 delivers about a 20 percent better CPU performance and a 35 percent boost in graphics performance, which would be a nice upgrade over the rest of Apple’s Mac lineup.
But a switch to a 3nm process can raise the bar considerably. Admittedly, we’re not sure what that would mean for the M2 variants, but it could mean that the more expensive M2 chips offer even bigger performance gains than the base M2 chip. When TSMC outlined the technology behind the 3nm process in 2020, it said the mode “promises to improve performance by 10-15 percent at the same power level or decrease power by 25-30 percent at the same transistor speeds.”
That would be a significant boost to the M2 Pro and other high-end chips and pave the way for a massive M3 improvement. We’ll have to wait for Apple to reveal the next members of the M2 family to know for sure what they bring, but according to the latest rumors it might not be too long.