I once started my Mac-journey with the good old iMac G3 which was superseded my a PowerMac G4 with mirrored-drive-doors shortly afterwards.
It was 2005 when Apple decided to dump PowerPC-CPUs to celebrate the wedding with Intel. I remember myself fetching news from the first Intel-based MacBook Pro with an Intel Core Duo while sitting in a hotel room in Chiusi, Italy. For many years, rumors spread that the Cupertino-based tech giant is planning to switch to ARM to show that the powerful SoCs cannot only fuel iPhones or iPads but notebooks or even desktop PCs instead. While different Windows-based devices made this shift with more or less success and are still in transition, this year’s WWDC could be the key to the lock which opens the door for a new age of Macs.
According to Bloomberg and people familiar with those plans, Apple is apparently planning and preparing the shift to its own CPUs, finally replacing Intel chipsets in the Mac-lineup. As the WWDC being held in the week of June 22 is a virtual-only event, there will be no big stage — at least not the kind of stage we got used to at Apple-events — but the program codenamed „Kalamata“ is told to be unveiled at one of the virtual keynotes. Referring to the sources, the transition will of course need some time and is rumored to hit the hardware market sometimes in 2021 but as these are just „as-is“-assumptions, the timing of the transition may and surely will change.
Mentioning the time factor, developers will need and have the time to adopt their apps and other software products to match the new ARM-base. As the new processor are told to be based on the same technology used be Apple-designed devices like the iPhone or iPad, adoption should be no kind of rocket science. Anyway, as the architecture is definitely different from the underlying technology in well-known Intel-chips, developers will need this time to optimize their software for the new components. Anyone of you thinking that Apple may dump macOS for an iOS-based Mac may be wrong as the rumors are still assuming that macOS will still be the operating system in charge.
Looking back in history, Bloomberg already reported on Apple’s effort to move away from Intel earlier this year, and in 2018 as well. Cupertino, California-based Apple and Santa Clara-based Intel declined to comment so far. While the PowerPC-platform once took over from Motorola-CPUs, Intel was the platform Apple chose to switch to in 2005 when Steve Jobs announced this kind of transition at the WWDC. Later in January 2006, the first Intel-based Macs rolled out and a great and successful marriage began. Like it did then, Apple is told to eventually plan the transition of the entire Mac lineup to its Arm-based processors, including the priciest desktop computers, the people said.
Intel’s sales won’t be affected much though as Apple is currently holding about 10% of the PC-market. Anyway, with Apple moving away from Intel and still having the label of a premium product, this change could be a sign for other vendors to jump on the ARM-bandwagon, too. So far, Microsoft, Lenovo and Samsung already released laptops that debuted to run on ARM-based chips. Apple’s chip-development group, led by Johny Srouji, decided to make the switch after Intel’s annual chip performance gains slowed. Apple engineers worried that sticking to Intel’s road map would delay or derail some future Macs, according to people familiar with the effort.
Inside Apple, tests of new Macs with the ARM-based chips are told to have shown sizable improvements over Intel-powered versions, specifically in graphics performance and apps using artificial intelligence, the sources said. Apple’s processors are also more power-efficient than Intel’s, which may mean thinner and lighter Mac laptops in the future, bringing all the power of the, let’s say, iPad-Pro-ARM-SoC into a laptop housing.
The official confirmation of Apple’s strategic move to ARM would be a — if not the! — definite highlight of this year’s WWDC. At this conference which is held in a virtual way due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is told that all current operating systems coming from Cupertino — iOS, iPadOS, tvOS and watchOS — will face further augmented-reality-based improvements and deeper integration with outside apps and services as well as improved Apple Watch fitness features.
Additionally, we may expect further information of the coming iOS 14 from which users hope that its rollout will be less complicated and buggy like iOS 13 at the time of its release. As far as I remember, many users — among them even die-hard Apple-fans — criticized the sloppy quality management that accompanied the several versions of iOS up to 13.5.1 despite Apples self-set high standards. Finally, we can be sure that this WWDC — besides its odd virtual appearance — may be the perfect stage for this „one more thing“ that may define the future of Apple… once again!