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Apple Silicon chipsets to power future Macs: Why it is a big deal

Future Macs will be powered by Apple's in-house chipsets. Here's why this move can be a game-changer.

Sushant Talwar | June 23, 2020 | Updated 16:36 IST

Highlights

  • Apple has announced a new range of chipsets for its upcoming Macs
  • Apple currently uses Intel chips for its Macs
  • The entire range of Macs is expected to feature Apple's in-house chips in the next two year

Apple's no stranger to making big announcements at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that it hosts every year. However, the announcements it made last night were some of the biggest we've seen in recent years.

The keynote of the 31st edition of WWDC saw the company not only announce new software solutions for iPhones and iPads but also reveal plans of virtually ending a long-held partnership with chipmaker Intel. At the end of an almost two-hour-long keynote, Apple announced its plans of moving its Macs to an in-house series of chipsets called the Apple Silicon.

As part of the announcement, Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, explained the company's expectations and the reasons behind the move. He said: "From the beginning, the Mac has always embraced big changes to stay at the forefront of personal computing. Today we're announcing our transition to Apple silicon, making this a historic day for the Mac... With its powerful features and industry-leading performance, Apple silicon will make the Mac stronger and more capable than ever. I've never been more excited about the future of the Mac."

During the event, Apple announced that the company will initially be moving some of its future Macs to this new range of chipset. The first of these ARM processor-based Mac machines will be launching later this year, with Apple already having drawn up plans of equipping its entire line-up with the new chips in the next 2 years.

What's Apple Silicon and why it makes sense?

Apple claims that this new family of Apple SoCs is built on the same architecture that is currently being used for ARM-based chips that run iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, and other Apple devices. And considering that these chips have constantly been great for Apple, both in terms of marketing, and actual real-world performance, it makes a whole lot of sense for the Cupertino-based tech giant to actually be wanting to now expand the scope of its chip-making operations and start creating processing units for what essentially is one of the most powerful range of personal computers in the market right now. The learning from this move could be immense and would help it rapidly improve its already thriving chip-making division.

For the end-user, Apple promises that the use of in-house Apple Silicon chipsets will help the company bring access to technologies such as the Neural Engine to Macs. Apple also claims these new chips working in tandem with macOS Big Sur will "give the Mac industry-leading performance per watt and higher performance GPUs enabling app developers to write even more powerful pro apps and high-end games."

While Apple hasn't revealed any specifics on the CPU or the GPU, it has, however, talked up the performance quite a lot, and even demoed during the keynote a number of CPU and GPU intensive apps running on a Mac fitted with one of its own ARM-based custom chips.

Apple also claims that this move to Apple Silicon range of chipsets for Macs will also help it better optimise its existing apps to provide not just better performance, but also improved ease of use across its range of products and their operating systems. This is because the new range of Macs with Apple chips on-board will be able to natively run iPhone and iPad apps, all thanks to a shared architecture between them.

While macOS will continue to have its own App Store, there now will be multiple iOS and iPad apps that will be able to run natively on Macs. Apple says that this kind of a cross-platform ability will be made available at launch later this year, with developers now being given the freedom to make their iOS and iPadOS apps available on the Mac without any modifications.

While we will still wait for the actual machines to finally be launched and show us what they can do -- both in terms of performance and user experience -- for now, this promise of Apple-branded Macs running Apple's own operating system and powered by its own chips, sounds too good to not be excited by.

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