Apple is planning to swap out Intel processors with its own proprietary solution. Future Mac models may get a major transplant with the Apple’s ARM processor. The new ARM processor will be mostly similar to the ones we find in iPhone and iPad models.
A-series Bionic chipsets have the reputation of consistently outperforming competing chipsets for Android devices, including flagship models from Qualcomm. In fact, latest GeekBench benchmark results show that the brand-new iPhone 12 is capable in trouncing current Intel-powered MacBooks, in terms computational performance. With bigger form-factor and more flexible power requirements, the actual Apple silicon for MacBook could be even faster. For Apple, significant performance boost over A14 is crucial to maintain the buttery smooth operations of macOS on Macs and MacBooks. We could expect that Apple will use the new silicon for its thin MacBook Air, MacBooks and Macs.
However, Apple has the advantage of tightly integrating its macOS and the new proprietary processor. Over time, Apple may fully switch to its own processor and abandon Intel completely. At the moment, Apple still declines to offer any confirmation. However, Intel announced in the recent WWDC event that it will continue selling Intel-powered Macs for a couple of years with regular multi-year software support. The new Apple Silicon isn’t only about ensuring good performance. Apple also wants to strengthen its enclosed digital environment by using more proprietary hardware. The processor may also have some unique features not available in regular Intel CPUs, like an AI module.
Given its excellent power efficiency and performance level, the A14 Bionic will transfer these favourable capabilities to the upcoming Apple Silicon. Mainstream ARM MacBooks may have decent performance with exceptional battery life. This would work really well for the current MacBook Air. MacBook Pro must deliver the horsepower needed by illustrators, programmers, video editors and photographers. Because, Apple fans will always pay a premium to get excellent performance. It’s likely that the new Apple chip will be more affordable than Intel’s. Even so, to maintain consumer perception, Apple may continue charging consumers a premium for future ARM MacBook models. The company may take the performance level to the next level with desktop computers. Plugged-in Mac Pro and iMacs can gobble significantly more power for higher sustained chip clock rate than MacBooks, iPhone and iPad.
This could mean that there will be different chips for MacBooks and Macs. A beefy chip with high-speed cache memory is a necessity for running Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Cinema 4D, Affinity and Apple’s own Final Cut Pro. Technically, Apple can make a monster chip for its desktop Macs and iMacs. Modern supercomputers already use ARM processors for exceptionally fast performance. It means, the architecture is perfectly viable for desktop-level operations. Despite the high performance, the ARM processor for desktop Macs and iMacs could maintain relatively low power consumption, compared to x86 chips. Big computers chips like AMD’s Threadripper with 64 cores and 128 threads are expensive to make. Because Apple’s new processor will pair with macOS, it is far easier to make optimizations and find a sweet spot.
It’s not the first time for Apple to use its own processor. The company originally used the 68000 chip series from Motorola for early Macs. In 1994, Apple developed PowerPC chips with Motorola and IBM and in 2006, the company switched to Intel chips. Any transition to a new hardware platform will be difficult, because Apple will need to significantly revamp the macOS and ensure compatibility with Safari and other programs. This time, it will be even more complex, because Macs will make a major migration from x86 to ARM architecture. Third-party software developers, like Adobe, will also need to optimize and maintain compatibility with ARM architecture. A reliable and responsive emulation system will be necessary for ARM Macs to run older programs and current programs not yet optimized for ARM chips.