The first Mac with an Apple-designed ARM processor may launch in the first half of 2021

Apple has been rumored to be moving away from relying on Intel for its processors in the Mac lineup for quite some time now.

And now a new report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that the transition to an Intel-less Mac is essentially right around the corner. Well, as far as refreshed hardware is concerned. According to the analyst, Apple is planning to launch its first custom-designed ARM processor sometime in the first half of 2021.

Within the next 12 to 18 months, Kuo expects that Apple will rely on 5nm chip architecture, seeing it as a “core technology” for its own custom processor. Here’s the important bit from Kuo’s analyst note, released today (via MacRumors):

We expect that Apple’s new products in 12–18 months will adopt processors made by 5nm process, including the new 2H20 5G iPhone, new 2H20 iPad equipped with mini LED, and new 1H21 Mac equipped with the own-design processor. We think that iPhone 5G support, ‌iPad‌’s adoption of innovative mid-size panel technology, and Mac’s first adoption of the own-design processor are all Apple’s critical product and technology strategies. Given that the processor is the core component of new products, we believe that Apple had increased 5nm-related investments after the epidemic outbreak. Further, Apple occupying more resources of related suppliers will hinder competitors’ developments.

Kuo believes that Apple’s 5nm processor aspirations will go beyond its custom processor for the Mac, too. According to the note, Apple plans on using the 5nm chip architecture in the upcoming 5G iPhones expected to debut in 2020, and the new iPad Pro with a mini-LED display rumored to launch in late 2020, will use the same processor design.

Unfortunately, there’s not much else to go on here regarding the new Mac that will use the custom ARM-based processor. This is not the first time we’ve heard this particular rumor, either. Apple has been moving in this direction for quite some time based on the rumor mill. Kuo himself has said as far back as 2018 that Apple would debut its custom ARM chips in a Mac no later than 2021.

Are you looking forward to this switch away from Intel chips in Apple’s Mac lineup?