Report: Apple to announce switch to ARM-based Mac chips later this month

Apple is looking to buy Intel Chips and squeeze out Qualcomm
Image: Quentin Sokolow / The Burn-In

For more than a decade, Apple’s Mac computers have run on Intel processors. That’s about to change. According to reports from Bloomberg, the Big Tech firm is preparing to shift its Mac line to ARM-based processors. Apple is supposedly preparing to make the major announcement later this month at WWDC.

The announcement will give developers enough time to adjust prior to a projected 2021 launch of the first ARM-powered Mac.

Long Time Coming

Apple’s desire to move away from Intel processors is no secret. Rumors about the switch have been circulating for years. However, no one really knew when the change would happen. According to insiders familiar with the company’s plans, it is coming sooner than many expected.

Of course, since Apple hasn’t yet announced the plans, its timing could change. Still, announcing the switch at WWDC makes a lot of sense. It would be a highlight of the event, which will be held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apple’s new processors will reportedly be based on the same technology as its in-house iPhone and iPad chips. The most notable difference is that Macs will continue to run macOS and won’t switch to the company’s iOS software.

Apple’s new chips will feature technology licensed from ARM, an increasingly popular chip designer. Since the hardware’s architecture differs from Intel’s, third-party developers will need to optimize their offerings for the new components. Hence the necessity from an early announcement on Apple’s part.

Reports note that the key reason for the shift is Intel’s slowing performance gains. Over recent years, Apple’s tests with ARM-based Macs have revealed significant performance increases over Intel-powered models. For consumers, ARM Macs will likely be thinner and lighter. That’s because ARM’s offerings are more power-efficient than Intel’s chips.

Bloomberg notes that the shift to ARM chips will eventually cover the entire Mac lineup.

Breaking Tradition

Apple’s move to change processors is notable. After all, it hasn’t done so since 2005 when Steve Jobs announced that his company would be switching from PowerPC chips to Intel. Interestingly, the first Intel-powered Apple computers launched the next year.

If the company does indeed announce the switch to ARM chips this month, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them powering new Macs next year. Again, the announcement could change. The project, codenamed Kalamata, is one of Apple’s most carefully-guarded secrets.

It’s worth noting that Apple’s new chips will be produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). The firm also makes chips for several of Intel’s rivals, including AMD and Qualcomm. Apple’s new ARM-based chips will be built on a 5-nanometer production technique, making them some of the most technically advanced processors on the market when they arrive.

Along with its rumored ARM announcement, Apple is also planning to update many of its operating systems at WWDC. Updates are expected for iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS. They will include things like augmented reality capabilities, better third-party app integrations, and better fitness features for the Apple Watch.


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