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Apple is likely working on new ARM processor for laptops, may ditch Intel to use it inside Mac

An analyst has made a prediction that Apple will likely switch from Intel CPUs to its in-house ARM processors within 12-18 months for at least one of the Mac laptops. Apple already uses its A series processors in the iPad and the iPhone.

twitter-logoYasmin Ahmed | February 25, 2020 | Updated 16:15 IST
(Source: Reuters)

Highlights

  • Ming Chi Kuo, a analyst who follows Apple, has predicted within 18 months Apple is likely to switch to ARM processors in at least one MacBook.
  • The analyst says that after Corona virus outbreak, Apple is eagerly researching production of 5nm chips.
  • One of these 5nm processors may end up inside a MacBook in a year or so.

Ming Chi Kuo, an analyst who tracks Apple, has a new prediction: Apple will ditch Intel from at least one MacBook model and use its own ARM processor that the company is developing for laptops. It is worth noting that Apple already uses ARM technology, which powers company's A series of chipsets, into the iPad and the iPhone. In fact, Macs are the only devices that still use third-party processors. Kuo says that this new ARM-based processor from Apple may end up in a product in next 18 months.

There have been talks for sometime about Apple making the switch from Intel CPUs to its own processors in the Mac desktops and MacBooks and today's report indicate that indeed there is something that Apple is cooking up.

Since Coronavirus outbreak, Apple is aggressively researching production of 5nm processors, so it seems that the first ARM-based processor for a MacBook will be fabbed on 5nm process, although it is not clear if Apple will use the 5nm at Samsung or similar process from TSMC. In the past, for iPhone and iPad processors, Apple used both.

Kuo predicts that the 5nm chips will be featured for Apple's first ARM Mac in 2021.

Apart from talking about Mac, Kuo also talks of upcoming iPhone and iPad. He says that the processor in the future iPhone -- probably even in the iPhone 12 -- and the iPad will use processor's fabbed on 5nm.

The shift from Intel to ARM for Mac will not only be a big moment for Apple but also for developers. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith told 9to5Mac that if Kuo's prediction is correct, this will be the last Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) before which Apple launches its own in-house ARM Macs.

If Apple indeed moves to an ARM processor in the Mac, this will not be a big surprise anymore. Apple is making its own processors for the iPhone and the iPad for nearly 10 years now, and so far its record with its own processors has been phenomenal. The A series processor like the Apple A13 are the fastest mobile processors in the world. In some cases their performance is easily good enough to power a laptop.

But building on what the company has created in the form of A series processor, it is possible that Apple will be able to match the kind of power and efficiency that Intel processors offer.

Bringing an A series processor to a Mac will also help Apple integrate the iPhone, the iPad and the Mac in a better way because of better software compatibility.

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