Apple Reportedly Planning ‘several’ ARM-based Mac Devices for 2021

Posted on March 27, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple, Hardware, Mobile, Mac and macOS with 19 Comments

Apple could be bringing its ARM processors to the Mac next year. A recent rumor suggested that Apple is planning to launch an ARM-powered Mac device in 2021.

And now, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors), Apple is actually planning several Mac devices powered by its own ARM processors for a 2021 release.

The latest rumor is interesting mainly because Apple is apparently planning not only to launch ARM-powered laptops, but it could also launch ARM-powered Mac desktops. Switching to ARM processors will reportedly allow Apple to reduce processor costs by 40 to 60 percent, which is a massive improvement.

Apple, like many other computer makers, currently rely heavily on Intel processors. Apple has long been rumored to be wanting to switch to its own processors, and its upcoming Mac devices powered by its own ARM-processors could pave the way.

There’s a lot of questions yet to be answered about Apple’s ARM-powered Mac devices, especially in regards to how existing Mac software will run on the new ARM-powered Mac devices. Apple has already put in a lot of work to bring existing iOS apps to the Mac, so maybe the company’s main gameplan for apps on the new ARM-powered Mac devices will focus on those apps.

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Comments (19)

19 responses to “Apple Reportedly Planning ‘several’ ARM-based Mac Devices for 2021”

  1. wolters

    As an owner of a Surface Pro X, I've not encountered anything I'd consider a show stopper, especially knowing what I need the "X" to do for me vs. SurfaceBook 2. So, I am interested in seeing how this goes for Apple.

  2. nbplopes

    I don't see the appeal of an ARM based macOS. As much as I don't see the appeal of a ARM based Windows OS. Just can't phantom a reason why I would want one. Yet I also have many reasons why I would not want one. Furthermore we know for a fact is that Windows on ARM it's a flop for the time being, precisely because of these reasons.

    Worst, I've yet to read good case for such thing, not based on pure speculation over how good it could be a desktop OS on ARM. If Apple does this, in my view it does only based on self interest case in case, be less dependent from Intel tech. And ... it will flop! Because users will not care less for those reasons. Customer's don't want to go through that pain given so many other painless options.

    The way foreword for me is to keep on blowing people's minds with the iPad Pro. So many things to be done yet.

    1. Dazzle me with a 16" iPad Pro ...
    2. Imagine.a hassle free, secure remote screen connection to your Mac with full mouse and keyboard suppor, all baked in with my Apple ID and working flawlessly. Sidecar beyond the desk :) This would make the option of an iPad Pro as a companion device to a desktop, for work, much more compelling.
    3. ....

    PS: Keep on with the steady approach to macOS and refrain from ruining it.

  3. John Muir

    I really doubt they will do this for now. When they can replace all their intel stock units, along with a nice price cut and battery boost, then maybe.

    No chance, they will have a handful of mac-arm + dozens of other intel options.

    Its just not how apple works.

    And for them to replace the macs at the top end with arm cpu's would cost far more than just using intel. The key thing is optimised software than runs well, and according to reviews, even the new mac pro isn't running software that fully utilises all the new hardware addin cards.

    The iOS apps running on x86 are a disappointment, Adobe is still quite far behind optimising their apps properly for their new gpus. They still have alot of slack to pickup in the x86 space and alot of improvements to come.

    But if they even double the performance of arm, intel should be making improvements as well so will be ahead for a considerable future.

  4. bluvg

    I'm not an Apple fan, but they've done some impressive work with their silicon.

  5. VancouverNinja

    This leak is typical of a company working hard to prepare for a competitor's pending new solutions. So we have vaporware leaks to try and hold people off switching to pending competitive solutions.

    For all the negative noise regarding Windows as a multi-device OS platform it has proven extremely resilient. Once the Microsoft Duo drops and other manufacturers adopt Microsoft's version of Android on their new devices (along with Neo type devices) Microsoft will have an ecosystem system that can compete head on with iphone and ipad users. Microsoft will have the innovation lead over Apple. Apple will also have to deal with Microsoft innovating long term with the Duo to rival or exceed iPhones for innovation. Microsoft is exactly the competitor that can upend the status quo Apple enjoys today. I would not have said that 10 years ago.

    If Apple was not doing this it would be dangerous to their current market share.

  6. mattbg

    With the new iOS 13.4 enhancements related to mouse control (and assumed further development of this through 2021) - maybe these will be the first Mac devices to be powered by iPadOS :)

  7. Winner

    They're likely to be more successful than Microsoft's ARM-based devices.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to Winner:

      I highly doubt it. They will be iOS or OSX devices - they will not gain on Windows PCs. If they ran Windows have at it.

      Apple sees a bullet train heading their way in terms of Windows X and the new devices dropping this year. I predict Apple is in for a hard time.

      • Greg Green

        In reply to VancouverNinja:

        MS has had trouble getting a popular os for three iterations now, four, if you count WinRT. I don’t think apple has anything to fear.

        besides, apple is a lot less interested in desktops than they used to be. They’ve paid little attention to them for the last few years, and had to be dragged into producing a new Mac Pro.

    • codymesh

      In reply to Winner:

      I mean, to begin with, the mac is a closed ecosystem, and the ARM chip that Apple designs also happens to be the fastest in the industry. And Microsoft has contributed in making Chrome run on ARM, which will benefit MacOS too, because Mac users aren't using Safari.

      also IIRC, MacOS apps run almost entirely on managed code, and mac devs actually update their apps regularly (windows devs are stuck in the 90's), so they have a lot going in their favour. It's not a guaranteed success, but the chances of success are pretty high.

  8. Stooks

    With the recent update to the iPad allowing mouse support I do not see why you would buy one of these. Just get a 12inch iPad for less than a Macbook to run the same ARM based apps.

    • nbplopes

      People that choose either and are happy, do so for quite different reasons. Who ever looks at t as a replacement will be frustrated (meaning same reasons, just different a different way).

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to Stooks:

      Try telling someone with a nice Windows laptop to switch to a smaller screen ipad instead - not gonna happen.

      • curtisspendlove

        In reply to VancouverNinja:

        Try telling someone with a nice Windows laptop to switch to a smaller screen ipad instead - not gonna happen.

        I know quite a few people who have done exactly this.

        As I’ve mentioned enough times to feel like I’m beating a dead horse nowadays, most “muggles” (consumer computer users) don’t need a traditional computer.

        I’ve personally helped transition a few family members to tablets because I was sick of supporting Windows within my family and friends circle.

  9. michael_babiuk

    If ARM based Macs do happen as rumored, I will be VERY INTERESTED in the efficiency of their x86 code emulation Apple will use. How will it compare to Microsoft's solution to providing support for x86 coded apps (for example as it exists on Surface Pro X hardware.)

    Will Apple's emulation support 64 bit code? If so, WOW!

    • Winner

      In reply to Michael_Babiuk:

      Apple does have a solid track record of processor architecture changes, first on the Mac from Motorola 68xxxx to Power PC, then from Power PC to x86. They transitioned in both cases with good emulators and quite smoothly given the complexity of those tasks.

    • SWCetacean

      In reply to Michael_Babiuk:

      I would also be interested in how quickly Mac developers move to adding ARM builds of their software. Because ultimately developer adoption is needed for a new architecture to take hold, while emulation is merely an interim measure. My impression is that Mac developers are more willing to follow Apple in architecture transitions (as they've done multiple such transitions in the past), while Windows developers are generally pretty reluctant to invest effort in major architectural transitions (given that most Windows ISVs aren't working on ARM64 builds of their software for Windows 10 on ARM, and how it took the better part of a decade for x64 to become the default architecture for Windows apps).

  10. Dryloch

    All I can say is it better be touchscreen or they are making a big mistake. If you want me to run iPad apps touchscreen is a must.

  11. v_2samg

    Judging from what Apple did to macOS Catalina, this makes perfect sense. Apple has simplified and paved its way to ARMv8.

    Catalina no longer supports 32-bit x86 apps, so Apple just has to think of a way to ensure their future ARM based systems emulate AMD64 (x86-64). Apple has done this with Rosetta before and they sure can do it again.

    Windows already emulates x86 on ARMv8 and x86-64 emulation is coming soon. Once Apple moves to ARMv8 we can press the turbo button and leave x86 behind. And AMD can finally pick up K12 from where it left off.

    One can only dream. :)