Apple's ARM-based Mac could ship by the first half of 2021

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

If accurate, the days of Apple being bound by Intel’s chip release cycles – and the delays that often accompany them – could soon come to an end. And as we’ve seen with the iPhone, there are huge benefits to be had when developing both hardware and software under one roof. There’s no reason to think that similar efficiencies couldn’t be unlocked with the Mac.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Apple’s desire to decrease its reliance on Intel as a CPU supplier. Last summer, Apple hired Mike Filippo, ARM’s lead CPU architect, to help with the transition.

As Apple developer Steve Troughton-Smith points out, if true, Apple’s next WWDC would be the last before ARM Macs ship. Ideally, Apple would want to give devs some time with a transition kit which means we could see such a thing materialize in the not-too-distant future.

Kuo notes that the 2020 5G iPhone, a new high-end iPad with mini LEDs and the 2021 Mac will all utilize 5nm-based processors, making them faster and more efficient than current-gen Apple hardware built on 7nm technology.

Also of interest is Kuo’s belief that Apple has increased its investment in the 5nm process since the emergence of the coronavirus in China, presumably to reduce the uncertainty surrounding the outbreak.

“Further, Apple occupying more resources of related suppliers will hinder competitors' developments,” Kuo added.

Masthead credit: Mac by Krisda

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Azurelas

TS Rookie
Has ARM really caught up with x86/AMD64 yet in terms of pure performance? I remain sceptical until proven wrong.
 
Has ARM really caught up with x86/AMD64 yet in terms of pure performance? I remain sceptical until proven wrong.
Probably not but then Apple can afford to switch their lower end machines like the MacBook Air, the entry-level Mini config, and maybe even 13" MBPro to ARM as there is no other macOS vendor to compete with. There's nobody else with a fast 6C12T Core i5 or Ryzen 5 to beat their ARM Macs in benchmarks.
 
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Lounds

TS Maniac
This will be for either the Macbook Air or they'll bring back just the Macbook as a "budget" entry at about $800 lol
 

MrPayne77

TS Rookie
The savings in power and cost as well as being unencumbered by Intel's release schedule all make sense for Apple. What I'm worried about though are x86 apps - how well they'll run (if at all) and whether, with MacOS, Apple will lock things down and prohibit running apps obtained outside the official app store.
 
Has ARM really caught up with x86/AMD64 yet in terms of pure performance? I remain sceptical until proven wrong.
It's close enough in most day to day productivity tasks, especially if running apps in native ARM instead of emulation. Prosumer and pro-level tasks, maybe not, but most people who buy a MacBook Air or even the 13" MacBook Pro aren't actually doing pro tasks.