Apple has scheduled an event for November 10th, and the company is widely expected to use the occasion to introduce its first laptop computers powered by Apple chips that are similar to the processors used in the latest iPhones and iPads.
Now Bloomberg, citing industry sources, reports that we can expect Apple to introduce up to three three new MacBooks with ARM-based processors during the launch event.
According to Bloomberg, Apple’s new laptop lineup will include:
- 16 inch MacBook Pro
- 13 inch MacBook Pro
- 13 inch MacBook Air
Chinese OEM Foxconn is said to be assembling the smaller models for Apple, while Taiwanese company Quanta is said to be working on the 16 inch MacBook Pro.
It’s possible that Apple could only unveil the 13 inch laptops next week, since they’re said to be “further ahead in production” than the larger MacBook Pro.
The new laptops are expected to look a lot like Apple’s current-gen MacBooks. But under the hood they’ll have ARM-based processors designed by Apple rather than x86 chips from Intel. Apple’s first-gen MacBooks with ARM processors will likely use a processor based on the Apple A14 chip used in the iPhone 12 and 4th-gen iPad Air.
The move will give Apple more control over the performance of its computers, allowing the company to better optimize its macOS operating system and first-party applications to take advantage of features of its chips.
But the move will likely cause a bit of fragmentation in the Mac software space for the next few years as developers work to update their applications to run natively on ARM-based chips. Until then, Apple will likely rely on emulation to allow x86 Mac apps to work on computers with ARM chips… but there’s typically a bit of overhead with that sort of solution which can lead some programs to perform poorly – a problem that anyone trying to run x86 apps on a Windows 10 computer with an ARM processor is probably familiar with.
The difference is that Apple is already making some of the fastest ARM-based chips available and using them in recent iPhone and iPad devices. It’s likely that the versions used in MacBooks (and eventually in desktop computers) will be able to offer even stronger performance, since they won’t be limited by the small batteries and limited cooling capabilities of thin and light tablets and phones.
While the first Macs with Apple chips are expected to roll out before the end of the year, the company envisions the transition from Intel to ARM to be a multi-year process. We may not see desktops with Apple Silicon until 2022, but Bloomberg says new iMac, iMac Pro, and Mac Pro desktops are already in development.