Apple may be announcing shift to Arm-based CPUs this month

Written by Jennifer Allen

June 10, 2020 | 11:00

Tags: #arm #wwdc #wwdc-2020

Companies: #apple

Rumours are mounting that Apple will launch its own processors designed for Macs at the 2020 WWDC which will be held later this month. 

Several sources close to the plan have informed Bloomberg of the news with the business site reasonably confident that it's going to go ahead this time. It would be a huge shift for Apple having spent the past 15 years using Intel processors in its desktop and laptop based Macs. 

The initiative is codenamed Kalamata with the thinking being that Macs that use the new processors will launch in 2021 giving developers time to adjust to the new architecture. The Bloomberg report explains that the new processors will use chips based on the "same technology" as its Apple-designed iPhone and iPad chips. That means Arm machine architecture which Apple has already been keen to note in iPad Pro marketing can be faster than many PCs. 

Popular rumours suggest that it'll be a high-performance CPU core that will match Intel's x64 cores in IPC and efficiency which will certainly be necessary to remain competitive. Where things are more uncertain is what Apple will do in terms of integrated graphics - something that many of its systems depend on. It's possible that it could upscale its Metal-optimised integrated GPU that's already found elsewhere or it might have a whole new plan lined up.

If the switch to Arm does happen, it's going to be quite the transition for Apple. Back in 2005, the firm switched from PowerPC to Intel processors with Intel-based Macs launching in 2006. Before PowerPC, it used Motorola processors from the beginning until the early 1990s, so Apple isn't one for switching processors frequently. It only has about 10 percent of the PC market so it won't be a big dent for Intel, but it may give other manufacturers ideas with numerous laptop makers already using Arm-based chips in certain cases.

On the other hand, it may also cause some hassle for developers as they adapt their apps and games to be able to run on such new architecture. It's expected that a WWDC announcement will include tools for developers but we'd assume it's the smaller dev teams that will suffer most here. 

Still, this could shake things up a bit for everyone if these new processors really do turn out to be as fast as rumours suggest. WWDC starts the week of June 22nd. 

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