Apple will break up with Intel at its annual developer conference, WWDC on Monday, June 22. The company is expected to introduce its own line of ARM-based chips that will power the next generation of Mac computers. While Apple likely won’t announce new hardware at WWDC, a software-focused event, longtime analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims (via MacRumors) the first ARM-powered Macs will arrive as soon as later this year.
In a new investor note, Kuo says the last Mac to run on Intel processors will be a refreshed iMac with an “all-new form factor design” and a 24-inch display that will arrive sometime in this year’s third quarter. However, Apple will soon follow up with an ARM variant of the redesigned iMac in the first half of 2021.
An upgraded 13.3-inch MacBook Pro will also be among the first Mac models to launch with ARM chips. Other than the under-the-hood improvements, the new MacBook Pro won’t have any visual changes, though. Apple is said to discontinue the existing Intel-based Pro lineup soon after. Kuo hints the ARM 13.3-inch MacBook Pro will launch in the fourth quarter of 2020 or early 2021 at the earliest.
Contrary to expectations, there’s no word on an ARM-based MacBook Air yet. However, there’s still plenty of time before Kuo’s predicted timeline and we could potentially hear more about it in the coming months.
Kuo adds that starting in 2021, all new Mac models will feature Apple’s own ARM processors and that the company is planning to phase out Intel entirely in about 12 to 18 months. In addition, Apple is reportedly developing a mysterious, new redesigned MacBook that will enter mass production in the second half of 2021. This could be the rumored 12-inch MacBook that a few reports have suggested in the past.
Kuo expects the new ARM chips to offer a 50-100% performance boost over their Intel counterparts. That additional leeway will translate especially well in battery life for MacBooks, since ARM chips are relatively more power-efficient.
As per a previous Bloomberg report, Apple is primarily working on three 12-core ARM-based Mac processors, all of which are built on top of the upcoming A14 chip that will likely debut on the next iPhones. The first of these chips will be reportedly exclusively for lower-powered Macs since Apple hasn’t been able to match Intel’s higher-end offerings just yet. The switch from Intel to ARM will let Apple cut down the processor costs by about 40-60%. How much will that affect Macs’ asking price remains to be seen.
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