Image: Apple

Apple has always counted on Intel to provide processors for its MacBook family, but that long and storied partnership could be coming to an end as early as next year.

According to a note from popular analyst Ming Chi Kuo, Apple will release its first Mac with an ARM processor in the first half of 2021. The chip was designed entirely in-house.

While Kuo doesn’t mention ARM directly, he does note that these are 5 nm processors, which is pretty telling. Apple already uses ARM-based SoCs in its iPhone and iPad devices, as well as its T2 security chip.

The transition will allow all of Apple’s devices to work in unison and run the same apps. It’ll also give the company a lot more freedom, as Intel’s release cycles (and potential delays) would no longer be a concern.

Image: Apple

“We expect that Apple’s new products in 12-18 months will adopt processors made by 5nm process, including the new 2H20 5G iPhone, new 2H20 iPad equipped with mini LED, and new 1H21 Mac equipped with the own-design processor,” said Kuo.

“We think that iPhone 5G support, ‌iPad‌’s adoption of innovative mid-size panel technology, and Mac’s first adoption of the own-design processor are all Apple’s critical product and technology strategies. Given that the processor is the core component of new products, we believe that Apple had increased 5nm-related investments after the epidemic outbreak. Further, Apple occupying more resources of related suppliers will hinder competitors’ developments.”

A previous report claimed that Apple would be switching to ARM processors as early as this year. Kuo says that won’t be happening, but regardless of when they drop, Intel should be prepared to lose a significant amount of orders.

We can presume that Apple will continue to use Intel processors for the Mac Pro, but there have been signs that the company is cozying up to AMD.

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9 Comments

  1. Apple could already run ARM apps on Intel arch with emulation… they just extremely limited it for consumer use and restricted the full Monty to devs for app testing

    The only reason Apple doesn’t allow iOS and OS X to coexist is because they don’t want to, not because of any hardware issues.

    That being said – I don’t think an ARM would be as fast as the higher tier Intels, but I do think it could be very competitive in the Air form factor and non-Pro lineup. You could make the case that for most users it will be plenty fast enough and has the potential to greatly improve battery life and thermal management, which is exactly what Apple will prioritize.

  2. “Apple has always counted on Intel to provide processors for its Mac products, ”

    Uhm since when did intel make ibm’s power pc processor, or motorola’s 68000 series CPUs?

    As for going ARM, hopefuly it means we can finally tell the mac people to go die in a fire at work. Their phones are fine, their PCs are not and are getting worse. iPadOS is an abomination worse than all of the above.

  3. I find this interesting and wonder how this will impact my companies developers writing server side code for intel based platforms.

  4. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 10518, member: 215″]
    I find this interesting and wonder how this will impact my companies developers writing server side code for intel based platforms.
    [/QUOTE]

    Server side probably won’t get affected at all – there just aren’t that many OS X based servers left out there

  5. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 10521, member: 96″]
    Server side probably won’t get affected at all – there just aren’t that many OS X based servers left out there
    [/QUOTE]

    What I mean is a lot of our developers are writing code on mac laptops… if they switch to Arm will code compiled on the mac work on the Intel platform servers. That’s all.

  6. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 10524, member: 215″]
    What I mean is a lot of our developers are writing code on mac laptops… if they switch to Arm will code compiled on the mac work on the Intel platform servers. That’s all.
    [/QUOTE]

    Yeah it will be fine – you already compile ARM code for iOS on Intel CPUs, this would just be the opposite case. I’m sure Apple won’t pull that trigger without a full transition plan, including cross compilers. They have, after all, changed arches twice before, and each time was relatively painless.

  7. Won’t be the end of the world. As others mentioned, I’d probably start with the air and light laptops. I’m not sure if apple has full on chipsets with lots of I/O for their ARM parts but that shouldn’t matter for the small laptops and there are third party solutions to those problems. The question I have is whether apple will drop the price at all. Or will it just be higher margins?

  8. [QUOTE=”kin, post: 10545, member: 183″]
    The question I have is whether apple will drop the price at all. Or will it just be higher margins?
    [/QUOTE]

    Hahahaha

    No. Yes – higher margins and somehow higher prices.

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