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.
“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.