Apple's big move away from Intel could be coming next year — and it would signal a major turning point for the Mac (AAPL)


Macbook Pro Apple Laptop

  • Apple may start selling Mac computers powered by its own chips instead of Intel’s for the first time next year, according to Bloomberg.
  • The first Mac computer to run on Apple’s own processor will likely be a laptop; the report says Apple’s chips probably won’t be powerful enough to support high-end desktop computers by 2021.
  • The move would give Apple much more control over the performance, features, and launch timing of its Mac products moving forward.
  • The Mac is currently Apple’s only major product that doesn’t run on its own chips.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Apple is expected to release the first Mac computers that run on its own self-developed processors rather than Intel’s by next year, according to Bloomberg. Such a shift that would give the company significantly more control over the performance and launch timing of its laptops.

Apple is said to be working on three different processors that are based on the A14 chip that will power the next iPhone, according to Bloomberg.

Apple typically develops a new chip for each major iPhone launch. The iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, for example, run on the company’s A13 Bionic processor, while the iPhone XS and XS Max were powered by Apple’s A12 Bionic. Apple said when announcing the iPhone 11  and 11 Pro that the A13 Bionic chip is 20 percent faster than its predecessor. 

The first of these new Apple-made chips is expected to be much faster than that of the iPhone’s and will arrive in a new computer next year, according to the report. It’s said to be just one step in the company’s broader initiative to replace Intel in its computers, a project known internally as Kalamata, says Bloomberg.

The first Mac product to run on Apple’s new chip will likely be a laptop, reports Bloomberg. While ARM-based chips like those that power the iPhone are known for their power efficiency, Apple won’t be able to design new chips  by 2021 that are as powerful as the Intel processors found in high-end laptop and desktop computers, like its Core i7 and Xeon chips.

The first Apple processor is said to have eight high-performance cores and four efficiency cores, and the company is reportedly exploring chips with more than 12 cores. Adding more cores typically gives computers for bandwidth for multitasking, resulting in snappier performance. 

Apple is also reportedly working on a tool to ensure that apps built for Intel-powered Macs will work on the new computers.

An Apple spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

It’s far from being the first time reports have suggested that Apple is planning to move away from Intel. Bloomberg reported roughly two years ago that such a plan was in the works. 

Apple’s Mac lineup are currently its only products that do not run on an Apple processor. Apple creates its own A-series chips for the iPhone and iPad, S-series chips for the Apple Watch, and H1 chips for its AirPods. Developing its own Mac processors rather than relying on Intel’s would give Apple more flexibility to tailor the chip’s performance and capabilities to accommodate the Mac’s features specifically. It would also give Apple more control over when it launches new MacBooks.

The move would also represent an important step for bridging the gap between Apple’s desktop and mobile experiences. Apple has made significant strides in recent years to make the experience between the Mac and the iPad more consistent to fit with the iPad Pro’s positioning as a productivity device.

For example, it launched a project called Mac Catalyst last year that makes it easier for developers to build a Mac app from their existing iPad app. It also re-branded the iPad’s software as iPadOS last year as it began introducing more software features that are specific to the iPad and unavailable on iPhone — like a new home screen layout and a dock that can fit more apps.  

Apple’s Mac computers have been using Intel processors since 2006, but the company has sometimes blamed Intel for slow chip updates resulting in delayed upgrades to Apple’s core lineup. Making a chip for the Mac that runs on the same technology as the iPhone could further unite the company’s mobile and desktop products and give the company more control over their features.

SEE ALSO: I’ve only been using Apple’s new iPhone SE for a few hours, but it already feels like exactly what the company needs to upstage Android rivals

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