Kuo: first ARM-ed Mac models arriving in late 2020 or early 2021

Thanks to the powers of prolific Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities, we can likely expect first Macs powered by Apple-designed processors to arrive in less than a year.

In a Chinese-language research note issued today, obtained by MacRumors, the reliable analyst forecasts the launch of Apple’s first Mac computer model rocking an in-house designed processor based on ARM technology in the fourth quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021.

He didn’t precise if these will be MacBook Pros or Airs. Kuo originally called for Apple to make the move in the next 12 to 18 months, but it’s unclear why he’s accelerated his expectations.

In February, he predicted that first ARM MacBooks would be coming in the first half of 2021. As someone who has sources deeply entrenched in Apple’s supply chain, Kuo is arguably the most reliable Apple analyst although he doesn’t always get his timeframes right.

ARM technology is also used in Apple’s A-series chips for its mobile devices.

Using the same custom CPU technology based on the ARM instruction set that has made Apple’s custom A-series mobile chips the envy of the industry would, at least in theory, enable Apple to ditch Intel starting with low-end notebooks before moving up to the Mac mini, iMac and other models. Such a move could benefit Apple and its customers in ways more than one.

2018 MacBook Air

As a company that values vertical integration, owning another important piece of technology would tie nicely into that. An ARM-based Mac notebook would probably be thinner and have a much longer battery life than the current Intel-based MacBooks. To that extent, Kuo thinks TSMC’s five-nanometer chip architecture could be the “core technology” in an ARM MacBook.

Also, Intel chip vulnerabilities that have been in the news in the past few years would become a thing of the past. But most importantly, using its own chips would free Apple of the restrictions of Intel’s unreliable roadmap and release schedules while enabling even tighter integration between its hardware and software.

Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée in his new Monday’s Note column titled “ARM-ed Mac: Not Again Or For Real This Time?” gives another go at the well-aged rumor that Apple’s home-grown chips will replace Intel’s x86-based processors chips as the main CPU of Macs.

This isn’t wild speculation. The iPhone and iPad have run on Apple-designed ARM chips since birth. And while early entries into the A-Series line were underpowered, the latest chips created by Apple’s silicon design teams have yielded laptop- or even desktop-class performance. Couple that with Apple’s well-established drive towards vertical integration and control over its products’ key technologies and the ‘rumor’ seems inevitable.

However, this could turn out to be nothing more than vaporware.

Jean-Louis acknowledges as much, concluding his piece by saying, “I, of course, have no idea but this one: ARM-ing the Mac is easier said than done, regardless of its intuitive desirability.”

So, who’s looking forward to an ARM-ed Mac notebook?

Let us know in the comments down below!