The Mac’s long-rumored transformation from Intel processors to Apple’s own ARM designs could be smoother and more pervasive than people might have expected. As per the latest research note from analyst Ming-chi Kuo, which was reported on by MacRumors, Apple is planning to roll out “several” ARM-based Macs in 2021 in both laptop and desktop form factors.
The transition from Intel to ARM
Kuo believes that transiting to ARM is going to enable Apple to cut its processor costs by 40 to 60 percent while attaining more flexibility over its hardware lineup. Recently, he claimed that Apple would roll out its first ARM-based laptop in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of next.
As compared to x86 processors from Intel or AMD, ARM designs are commonly linked with mobile devices because of improved power efficiency provided by them, offering products such as the iPad long battery life without the requirement for active cooling. It makes complete sense, that Apple would see its superbly powerful A-series processors as a good fit for MacBooks.
Perhaps, the idea of ARM desktops is more appealing, mainly because no-one has really tried it yet in consumer computers. Power efficiency is closely linked with performance — mobile ARM devices operate at low power because they are required to conserve battery life and run cool in a thin form factor.
The question now arises, What kind of performance could be generated from, say, something such as the latest iPad Pro’s A12Z chip in an iMac-style body integrated with active cooling and permanent power supply from the wall? And what would this mean for the ultra-engineered, ultra-expensive, Xeon-based new Mac Pro? In any case, it seems like the ARM shift is going to be massive news for the Mac next year.
Apple would normally declare this type of thing at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June; however, the in-person event won’t happen this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the WWDC 2020 keynote and other developer sessions are going to be broadcast online at an as-yet-unspecified time.
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