As per a recent Bloomberg report, Apple is set to launching its custom ARM-powered Macs next year. The news comes as a surprise since everyone had a clue that this was eventually going to happen but no one knew for sure when.
Now we know that it’s going to happen in 2021. The new Macs will feature custom in-house designed ARM chips that will be based on a 5-nanometer manufacturing process. They will also apparently feature 12 CPU cores—eight high-performance cores and four efficiency cores.
Furthermore, this Apple-developed chip will be a desktop-class version of the A14 chips that the company will use in its upcoming set of mobile devices including the iPhone 12 and the next iPad.
“The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on three of its own Mac processors, known as systems-on-a-chip, based on the A14 processor in the next iPhone. The first of these will be much faster than the processors in the iPhone and iPad, the people said.”
To put things into perspective, the iPad Pro with the A13 chip houses four efficiency cores and four performance cores. Given that, it scores even higher benchmark numbers than some latest MacBook models.
So, evidently, a similar chip, albeit desktop-class, made by Apple featuring 12 cores will prove arguably fruitful. Bloomberg says the chip with 12-cores will be “much faster” than the A13 chip on the iPad. Since performance cannot solely be measured by the number of cores in a laptop, however, the Cupertino tech company may also increase clock speed.
According to Bloomberg, additionally, the new chips made in-house by Apple will gradually be distributed among future Macs. As per the report, Apple might be having three Mac processors in development and all of them are expected to be on the same development cycle as their probable mobile counterparts. To add to that, the first custom-chip computer by Apple will be a new laptop as it won’t be able to rival performance in the current lineup of MacBook, iMac, and Mac Pro, Bloomberg reports.
This move seems like bad news for Intel as long term implications ensue. Since Intel hasn’t been able to cope up with adequate innovation each year, it has been limiting Apple’s ambitions for its laptop and desktop lineup. New in-house designed chips may eventually put an end to Intel’s future with the company.
Further, ARM Macs are supposed to continue to run macOS instead of iOS despite sporting a similar chip design to the iPhone 12. Judging from that, the company may come up with a way to make apps and services compatible with the new chip design. It could probably mean running them in some sort of compatibility mode on macOS.
What this may mean for us is that with the shift from Intel, MacBooks will better conform to Apple’s vision. We will get to experience better app-interoperability between macOS and iOS, which may validate the company’s recent move to run iOS apps on macOS as a part of Project Catalyst.
We may also see a new wave of low-performance MacBook devices that may fall in between the iPad and the MacBook Air. This could facilitate more and more people buying MacBooks as the new chips may open up new capabilities.
One area I believe the Mac will shine after gaining the new chips developed in-house by Apple is gaming. iOS and iPadOS games are developed using frameworks that are specifically put in place keeping in mind the underlying chip design. For example, Apple’s Metal framework takes advantage of the silicone inside as efficiently as possible in order to run beautiful, graphics-intensive games on iPhones and iPads. Now, since the new Macs may run on a unified chip, it might as well support the subsequent frameworks. If this happens, it would mean most iOS games will be compatible with macOS as well.
Macs aren’t well-known for gaming. Hence why it lacks the attention of a vast treasure trove of users from the gaming community which Apple could cash in on. With the new CPUs, the company may be able to win over some attention.
All of this seems exciting. We’ll have to wait and watch, however, how Apple’s move towards ARM-based Macs pans out. What are your thoughts?