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Bloomberg: ‘Apple Plans to Use Its Own Chips in Macs From 2020, Replacing Intel’

Bloomberg:

Apple is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers beginning as early as 2020, replacing processors from Intel, according to people familiar with the plans, Bloomberg News’ Ian King and Mark Gurman report.

The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices — including Macs, iPhones, and iPads — work more similarly and seamlessly together, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

Hell of a scoop if it pans out. We’ve all been speculating about ARM-based Macs for years. In broad strokes it seems like a rather obvious idea:

  • Apple seeks to control its own future. With Intel, Apple has often been stuck waiting for new Intel chips. The update schedule for new Mac hardware is often in Intel’s hands, not Apple’s.
  • Apple’s internal chip team has been killing it. They’ve never had a bad year. I think you can argue that they’ve never had anything but a great year. iPhones and iPad Pros have been faster than most MacBooks for years now, and that just seems wrong.

But when you start thinking about the details, this transition would (will?) be very difficult. First, while Apple’s existing A-series chips are better for energy-efficient mobile device use (iPhone, iPad, just-plain MacBook), Apple’s internal team has never made anything to compete with Intel at the high-performance end (MacBook Pros, and especially iMacs and Mac Pros). I’m not saying they can’t. I’m just saying they haven’t shown us anything yet.

And then there’s all sorts of questions about the transition period. Will there be something like Rosetta — an emulator or translator that allows existing x86 Mac software to run on the new ARM-based Macs? How far in advance will Apple announce this, so that developers can adapt their apps? (Apple announced the switch from PowerPC to Intel at WWDC 2005, and started shipping Intel-based MacBook Pros in early 2006.)

Monday, 2 April 2018