The Mac’s long-standing transition from Intel processors to Apple’s ARM designs could be faster and more extensive than you’d expect. According to a new research note from analyst Ming-chi Kuo, reported by MacRumors, Apple plans to release “several” Mac ARMs in 2021 in portable and desktop formats.
Kuo estimates that the transition to ARM will allow Apple to reduce its processor costs by 40 to 60% while gaining flexibility in its range of hardware. He recently claimed that Apple will launch its first ARM-based laptop in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of next year.
Compared to Intel or AMD x86 processors, ARM designs are generally associated with mobile devices due to their higher energy efficiency, offering products like the iPad a long battery life without the need for active cooling. So it makes sense that Apple should consider its increasingly powerful A-series processors as a good choice for MacBooks.
The concept of ARM desktops is perhaps more intriguing, mainly because no one has really tried it on consumer computers yet. Energy efficiency is closely linked to performance – ARM mobile devices operate at low power because they need to preserve battery life and operate cold in a slim form factor. What kind of performance would you get, say, something like the new iPad Pro A12Z chip in an iMac-style case with active cooling and permanent wall power? And what would that mean for the new ultra-sophisticated and ultra-expensive Mac Pro based on Xeon?
In any case, it looks like the ARM transition is going to be great news for the Mac next year. Apple would normally announce this type of thing at its annual global developer conference in June, but this year’s in-person event will not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the WWDC 2020 opening speech and other development sessions will be streamed online at an unspecified time.