Rumours that Apple is ditching Intel and moving the Mac to its in-house ARM-based chips have been floating around for a good while now. It now seems that it’s finally happening. Say hi to Project Kalamata. Recent statements from Mark Gurman (Bloomberg) – a credible source indeed, suggests that Apple is working on a 12-core A14-processor to power the first ARM-based Macs in 2021. It’s hard to underestimate the technical achievement if Apple pulls this off successfully. Making macOS/OS X – an operating system that has 20 years of x86 history run on a new architecture with a decent amount of software support is not done overnight. When Apple switched from PowerPC to Intel back in 2006, they were better prepared. OS X was still in its infancy and had been cross-compiled to both Intel and PowerPC from the get-go.
Like many others have suggested I think they are going to start with either the MacBook Air or reintroduce the 12” MacBook. People who use their Mac mainly for web, email, and light productivity work will enjoy the smoothest transition. I’m actually not convinced that the high-end Macs will get ARM-chips anytime soon, or maybe not at all. As AMD is starting to kick ass again, I think it’s possible we might see a Ryzen iMac Pro/Mac Pro before that. I guess Apple could do Rosetta all over again with x86 emulation to solve all the edge case software support, but I just don’t see it.
So, what does this transition mean for consumers? We have all seen the iPad Pro benchmarks. It’s not even funny. If everything goes well, we might see a MacBook Air with MacBook Pro performance and iPad like battery life in a not too distant future. Oh, by the way, it will probably not thermal throttle either. Imagine that.
I was wrong