Apple is making preparations to update the 13-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro to Intel’s tenth-generation processors. However, its long-established project to bring ARM power to its MacOS platform picks up pace. According to reports, a release in 2021 is probable.
Reportedly, various chips are under development. The first one is based on the A14 system on chip which will be fitted to the iPhone 12 smartphone family, and it is likely that it will be the first to be released. Another second-generation chip with extra commuting power for more demanding applications is also on its way.
Mark Gurman, Debby Wu, and Ian King at Bloomberg have reported:
Apple is preparing to release at least one Mac with its own chip next year, according to the people. But the initiative to develop multiple chips, codenamed Kalamata, suggests the company will transition more of its Mac lineup away from current supplier Intel Corp.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Apple’s partner for iPhone and iPad processors, will build the new Mac chips, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private product plans. The components will be based on a 5-nanometer production technique, the same size Apple will use in the next iPhones and iPad Pros, one of the people said. An Apple spokesman declined to comment, as did Intel and TSMC.
This isn’t a quick project that can be completed easily. Nevertheless, it has a lot of advantages. First off, it will be reducing Intel’s influence on Apple’s product line. Intel’s updates are not scheduled annually. Hence, the Mac family of laptops and desktops will keep waiting for the new chips from Intel.
As witnessed by the regular annual updates to the Axx silicon, there is no issue with Apple’s iPhone processors. But there have been many problems with sourcing 5G modems from external suppliers. When Intel stopped its 5G efforts, Apple had to rely on Qualcomm for the next few years. Meanwhile, Apple purchased Intel’s 5G modem division to bring it in-house, intending to use Qualcomm as a stop-gap.
A combined approach around the Axx architecture for iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS gives multiple advantages of scale.
There’s a possibility that Apple already has an ARM-based laptop. Then there is the iPad Pro and Magic keyboard combination. The main difference between an ‘iPadOS laptop’ and MacOS machine is that Apple has more control over the iPadOS platform.
For the development of ARM, developers will need to recode and recompile applications for the new chips. Since ARM has already been used on the iPhone and iPad, the transition from Intel to ARM will be smoother and easier. However, this ‘hard break’ would mean existing applications will not be able to run natively on the new MacBook machines.
Previous reports state this new MacBook would be launched either later in 2020 or in early 2021. Considering the economic impact of COVID-19, it is believed that Apple is to focus more on the manufacture of the iPhone 12. Therefore, other products may be launched later. Furthermore, it makes sense that MacBook would be released later because of the challenges of the Intel to ARM switch.