Home » The MacBook Air M3 test: Apple prepares for artificial intelligence on computers

The MacBook Air M3 test: Apple prepares for artificial intelligence on computers

by admin
The MacBook Air M3 test: Apple prepares for artificial intelligence on computers

“The best consumer computer for artificial intelligence”, we read in the presentation notes of the new MacBook Air M3. It is the first time that Apple has chosen to adapt to the most widespread expression, without resorting to the more technical “Machine Learning”: a sign that times are about to change in Cupertino too. While waiting for the new operating systems, which will integrate – it seems – innovative generative AI functions across the entire product line, the newly presented laptop meanwhile plants a symbolic flag in the hardware.

The path is clear: continuing the line of privacy defense, Apple is betting on on-site processing: to have the best of generative AI, in short, it will not be necessary to transfer data to OpenAI or Google’s servers (or even Apple’s) , but you can do almost everything on your computer. From a performance point of view there is not yet a real advantage, but for individuals and companies the peace of mind of not sharing confidential information is a decisive argument.

Thus the M3 chip, which is the only significant innovation introduced in this generation of MacBook Air, includes a 16-core Neural Engine, as well as accelerators in the CPU and GPU designed specifically to make machine learning faster. Various applications are already used today, such as Aiko, Freechat, Pixelmator Pro, Draw Things, Mochi Diffusion and many others.

In recent years Apple has implemented more and more features that use the neural engine in some way, such as object recognition in photos, FaceTime background blur, real-time text recognition. The first processor with a dedicated Neural engine was the A11 Bionic of the iPhone X: based on 10 nanometer technology, it was capable of 600 billion operations per second; the A17 Pro of the iPhone 15 reaches 35,000 billion (35 TOPS). The M3 chip, which is derived from the A17 Pro and based on the same 3-nanometer technology, achieves 18 TOPS, compared to 15.8 TOPS for the M2. The architectural differences, however, more than make up for the numbers: Macs are able to transfer more processing to the GPU than an iPhone, which means that the Neural Engine does not require the same power to achieve the same results .

See also  Bormia.de extends technological lead in water treatment

From theory we move on to practice, and the result is clear: with three different software, in three different areas of AI use, the MacBook Air was on average twice as fast as the M2. Let’s start with Aiko, a very useful audio file to text transcription program: to process a 56 minute speech file with the M3 it took 4’28”, compared to 9’58” with the MacBook Air M2. Let’s move on to Draw Things, software for creating images from text, which we used with the Stable Diffusion 2 model: to generate a 768 pixel square illustration starting from a rather simple prompt, the new Apple laptop took about 1’06 ”, compared to the 2’35” of the MacBook Air M2. Even with FreeChat, a version of conversational AI based on Synthia 7b 1.5, responses are faster.

All these software – and several others, such as Fotor or Luminar Neo – have in common the use of AI models directly on the computer, locally; they were tested by turning off the internet connection and on battery power. The MacBook Air M3 under test has 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, while the MacBook Air M2 used for comparison has 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage.

For the rest, a big boost to graphics: even if the MacBook Air is not a computer designed for the professional market (there is the Pro for that), the M3 chip it features still offers Dynamic caching, hardware-accelerated ray tracing and Hardware-accelerated mesh shading. So, even if it will not be used for Final Cut Pro, the advantage is evident in games, which run with a higher framerate and greater detail. It should be noted here, still with regards to graphics, that the MacBook Air now supports two external monitors instead of one, provided however that the computer is closed and the integrated display is not used.

Among the few other innovations it is worth mentioning the compatibility with Wi-Fi 6E, twice as fast as Wi-Fi 6 (but in the meantime Wi-Fi 7 has already arrived) and the three-microphone system which allows capture voice and sounds more clearly.

See also  Aldi sells smart robotic lawnmowers at an insane price

The previous MacBook Air remains in the catalogue, only in the basic 13-inch model, at 100 euros less than the M3. If there is no absolute need to save money, there is no reason to prefer it to the new model (and if there is, it is better to buy it used or refurbished, it remains an excellent computer). The MacBook Air M3, however, continues the tradition of solid Macs that are beautiful to look at and easy to use. The price is certainly not low but not exaggerated either, given that it is a computer ready for the future which is already around the corner. But precisely for this reason, it is better to avoid the basic model with 8 GB of Ram and focus directly on the one with 16 GB of Ram and 512 GB of storage space. It is listed at 1809 and 2109 euros, respectively for the 13 and 15 inch model.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy