Mobile chipsets offer better power efficiency, smaller form factor and portability. With recent significant improvements in mobile processing technology, Apple is confident about its future MacBook equipped with ARM processor. Rumours stated that the company will unveil a couple of ARM MacBook models on the upcoming November 17 event. Tipsters are hinting that these ARM Macs will have satisfactory performance.
Through Twitter, LeaksApplePro suggested that the prototype ARM Mac will be fast. With its own proprietary chip, Apple can reduce its dependency on external suppliers, particularly Intel. At the moment, MacBook models are very responsive when running Windows 10, because they use fast PCIe NVMe for storage. Users may get even better overall experience, because ARM is a faster and more simplified platform, compared to x86 chips. The first-generation Apple Silicon for MacBooks will have eight cores and closely related to the A14X Bionic 5nm for the new iPad Pro. It is interesting to note that the A14X Bionic has comparable performance to the octa-core Intel Core i9 processor that currently provides power for the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Of course, we shouldn’t get too ecstatic because there’s still no official confirmation from Apple.
In recent years, Apple design team has been quite successful in producing high-performance A-series Bionic chipsets. It is competing toe-to-toe with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8xx series used by flagship Android devices. Based on IPC (Instruction Per Clock) rates, the latest A14 Bionic has overtaken Intel x-86 chips. Apple may do better by designing its own laptop and desktop CPUs. With a complete platform control, there will be less concern about compatibility issues. Without doubt, Apple is working on optimizing macOS for the new ARM architecture. This will require major changes in the kernel, but it should be fairly easy to do for Apple. It will be interesting to see how macOS will perform on an entirely different hardware architecture. It won’t be too surprising if we see more than slight improvements in performance. Although this information sounds believable, we need to treat it with a nip of salt.
Apple already shipped early prototypes of ARM Macs to their developers last summer. These prototypes were the small form factor Mac Minis with ARM-based A12Z Bionic processor. Obviously, these Mac Minis won’t be the actual devices that Apple launch in the event, but it’s a proper technological representation for future, more advanced ARM-based Macs and MacBooks. It is quite likely that Apple will still launch some Intel-based MacBooks, as part of their initial transition phase.
Apple has been distributing RSVPs for the upcoming launch events. Apple sent notice about an event called “One More Thing”. Just like before, Apple’s announcement doesn’t contain any meaningful information about its upcoming products. However, Apple has unveiled the new iPhone and iPad models for 2020. Macs are the only thing left that we haven’t gotten in the market. Specifically, many people are waiting for the ARM-based MacBooks. Once Apple officially announces its intention to transition from x86 platform to ARM, it will be a significant milestone in the MacBook lineup. Apple will have a two-year transition phase for a complete or near-complete adoption of the ARM processor.
No More Intel-Based Macs?
One big question is whether will entirely its long partnership with Intel. For decades, Intel processors have served as the processors for Cupertino’s computing devices. Intel’s lack of innovation may contribute to Apple’s decision to find a better alternative. Lacklustre performance is plaguing Intel’s processor models and it is losing the race with AMD in terms of performance. With the launch of Ryzen 5000 series, AMD is becoming an even stronger contender in the processor market. It’s a good indication that Intel is no longer the most viable choice for processor products. Because Macs and MacBooks are less restrictive in power consumption, the new ARM processor could be bigger and more powerful, compared to the Bionic series. As mentioned above, the A14X Bionic is fast enough to outpace the Intel i9 processor. It fully makes sense if Apple will abandon Intel and go for its own ARM solutions instead.