Intel officials expect custom Apple chips in Macs as soon as next year

Following Bloomberg’s reporting on Apple’s plan to let developers bring universal apps that can run across iPhones, iPads and Macs by 2021, Axios is now reporting that the Mac platform should transition to bespoke in-house designed ARM-based chips beginning in 2020.

“Although the company has yet to say so publicly, developers and Intel officials have privately told Axios they expect such a move as soon as next year,” reads the post.

Apple at last year’s WWDC previewed new tools for bringing iPad apps to the Mac platform. The company also introduced macOS versions of some of its iOS apps, like Home, News and Stocks, which have been ported to the desktop using these upcoming tools.

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The key question is not the timeline but just how smoothly Apple is able to make the shift. For developers, it will likely mean an awkward period of time supporting new and classic Macs as well as new and old-style Mac apps.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman recently claimed that Apple will officially release a software kit for third-party developers at this year’s WWDC in June. That way, developers could start designing universal apps ahead of first Macs with ARM-based chips. Ultimately, the kit should let programmers create apps that work with a touchscreen or a mouse/trackpad, depending on whether they’re running on the iPhone and iPad hardware or a Mac.

This app merger initiative is internally code-named Project Marzipan.

The move to its own chips will mark Apple’s third major transition to a new processor architecture in the 25-year history of the Mac platform.

The first transition, between 1994 and 1996, was a switch from Motorola’s 68000-series architecture used since the original Macintosh 128K to PowerPC.

It was followed by Apple’s second CPU transition in 2005 when it announced a significant switch from PowerPC chips to Intel processors, which would kick off the following year.

If Apple’s industry-leading A-series processors powering iPhones and iPads are anything to go by, an ARM-based Mac chip could bring speed advances, especially in the GPU department as Apple now builds its own mobile GPUs, too. Importantly, such bespoke chips could enable even thinner, lighter MacBooks with all-day battery life.

Perhaps most notable of all, the move would permit Apple to take its desktop CPU destiny in its own hands as the company would no longer be dependent on Intel’s roadmap, which has been unreliable and all over the place in the past two years.

Is Apple wise to replace Intel chips with its own silicon?

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