MacBooks powered by Apple A-series chips are finally going to happen soon

“When it came time to introduce the new iPhone chip last week, Apple gave an ample presentation to the new A12 Bionic platform, that packs the six-core processor that’s now more powerful and efficient than last year’s model, the quad-core Apple GPU, the eight-core second-gen Neural Engine, and a brand new image signal processor,” Chris Smith writes for BGR.

“Apple does the same thing at every new iPhone event, emphasizing the new chips that are supposed to deliver better and better mobile experiences,” Smith writes. “But with the A12 Bionic we’re getting a lot closer to the first A-series chip that will power MacBooks.”

“Apple’s mobile chip has evolved so much over the years that they seem to be ready to power MacBooks,” Smith writes. “Apple’s mobile chip is already miles ahead of the competition, reaching scores in benchmarks that are comparable to processors used in laptops. And Apple’s MacBook Air has been the ultra-slim laptop that rivals started replicated years ago. Since then, Apple released an even slimmer device, the MacBook, whose logic board is comparable to an iPhone. And let’s not forget that the same chips that power the iPhone are also found inside the iPad Pro, which is already a great computer alternative to many people.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s just a matter of time. “When,” not “if.”

As we wrote back in January 2015:

There is no reason why Apple could not offer both A-series-powered Macs and Intel-based Macs. The two are not mutually exclusive…

iOS devices and OS X Macs inevitably are going to grow closer over time, not just in hardware, but in software, too:

Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either.MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014

I’ve always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do.Steve Jobs, October 12, 2004

• In order to build the best products, you have to own the primary technologies. Steve felt that if Apple could do that — make great products and great tools for people — they in turn would do great things. He felt strongly that this would be his contribution to the world at large. We still very much believe that. That’s still the core of this company.Apple CEO Tim Cook, March 18, 2015

Apple A-series-powered Mac idea boosted as ARM claims its chips can out-perform Intel – August 16, 2018
Did Apple just show its hand on future low-end, A-series-powered MacBooks? – July 13, 2018
How Apple might approach an ARM-based Mac – May 30, 2018
Pegatron said to assemble Apple’s upcoming ‘ARM-based MacBook’ codenamed ‘Star’ – May 29, 2018
Intel 10nm Cannon Lake delays push MacBook Pro with potential 32GB RAM into 2019 – April 27, 2018
Why the next Mac processor transition won’t be like the last two – April 4, 2018
Apple’s ‘Kalamata’ project will move Macs from Intel to Apple A-series processors – April 2, 2018
Apple plans on dumping Intel for its own chips in Macs as early as 2020 – April 2, 2018
Apple is working to unite iOS and macOS; will they standardize their chip platform next? – December 21, 2017
Why Apple would want to unify iOS and Mac apps in 2018 – December 20, 2017
Apple to provide tool for developers build cross-platform apps that run on iOS and macOS in 2018 – December 20, 2017
The once and future OS for Apple – December 8, 2017
Apple ships more microprocessors than Intel – October 2, 2017
Apple embarrasses Intel – June 14, 2017
Apple developing new chip for Macintosh in test of Intel independence – February 1, 2017
Apple’s A10 Fusion chip ‘blows away the competition,’ could easily power MacBook Air – Linley Group – October 21, 2016


  1. There exists this naive view that an A series is near being ready to replace an x86 in a Macbook. We’ve actually been reading that for several years already. It wasn’t when first proposed, and it’s not now.

    We have to be realistic about this. While my iPad Pro 12.9” 2nd gen is pretty darn powerful, it doesn’t run macOS. Running macOS brings an entirely new world of problems. Apple can have macOS run natively, they can (eventually) get all of their own software to run natively, and then what? People need to remember back to when Apple made chip moves, and the move to 64 bits, that it took years before the major apps were on board. But Apple made it clear that all of its Macs would go that way. If Apple uses an A chip in the Macbook, that’s the only machine to have it. For how long? While some smaller developers will move to native within several months, larger apps will take much longer.

    The question is how many developers will want to do this for just one machine, and the least powerful one as well? That is a real question, and one that everyone writing about this is avoiding. The second question is about emulation. We know that emulation results in very slow software. Very slow. We’ve gone through that before. Several times. Does anyone want to go through that again?

    Unless Apple can do something to avoid these problems, it’s very risky.

    1. “some smaller developers will move to native within several months, larger apps will take much longer.”
      Why do you think so? Any application developer that’s serious about developing apps for Apple’s products are already using Xcode (back then, developers were using whatever development environment they were comfortable with, which meant Apple had to contend with the type of code variances that don’t exist today). And, we’ve seen how Apple has been able to develop new features, and then have developers adopt those features with setting the appropriate switches then recompiling (then some additional coding for performance). If a small developer can recompile and do the performance work in months, why would a LARGER team of developers take longer? With the Apple Store, Apple also allows developers to upload binaries for multiple different target platforms so the user will only get the application executables they need.

      “The second question is about emulation.”
      I think emulation is a very low priority these days at Apple. If you do a search from their home page for Emulation under the default heading of “Explore” you get one reference that’s Logic Pro. Even a search for “virtualization” shows 5 other links before you see MacBook Pro and a note of running multiple virtual machines. You have to actually know to look for Windows or Boot Camp to get anything close to it. So, it wouldn’t surprise me if an announcement included talk of “developers will need to recompile, as we don’t support emulation of the x86 commands, but we’ve made it VERY easy for them to get their apps up and running on the new A(n) powered MacBook. And, here’s the VP of Development at (some software company) to tell you just how easy it was.”

  2. We didn’t even get Pencil support on iPhone (not to mention AirPower). Hard to imagine Apple would take such a gigantic leap when they have access to the latest Intel chips and are just about to start their iPhone launch production ramp up. Unless “soon” means 1-2 years instead of days, weeks or at most months that most people associate with the word.

    1. “they have access to the latest Intel chips”
      Well, having access to the latest Intel chips have not been a given recently. 🙂 Intel has slid year after year after year. Now that they’re finally shipping something that can go in a MacBook Pro (AND, still no LDDRP4 support), who knows WHEN they’ll have their next chips ready for mass market use?

      The odds are pretty good that Apple’s next laptop release will be either delayed OR underpowered due to Intel slipping, yet again. It’s as consistent as Moore Law used to be!

  3. Perviously when Apple changed chip families, it was always to chips that were more powerful then the previous lineup. While the A series might be competitive for MacBooks, what about the high end stuff?

    Splitting their developers into two (Mac, iOS) has hurt the mac from lack of focus. Now it would be split into three. (Intel Mac, A-Mac, and iOS) I just don’t see that working.

    Could it be that the reason Apple has neglected the high end so much be that they know they just won’t be making them any more? Can Apple succeed with just Laptops, tablets, and phones?

      1. Everyone. Apple, thru TMSC, is already upon 7nm process, while Intel is still trying to get good yields at 10nm. Intel’s power usage is much greater then everyone else. Intel seems to be moving on to mainly server processors.

  4. IIFC Apple main gained a second Mac OS for a few years before Intel was put in Macs. In. other words, they didn’t just jump.

    Looking at the A Series it is therefore probable that Apple had had Macs running iOS at some level. They have worked on this outlier OS Long enough to have determined what advances are needed too make it fully operational as well as competitive. With the potential power of the A Series it will be profitable for Apple to max out power potential for their chip. Apple also has the cash to increase chip factories to meet their needs.

    The only question I have is what else is Apple working in the hardware area? They certainly have the brain power and creativity to deliver a Mac (notebook or desktop) that jumps way ahead of the PC world. Who, besides Intel, has the cash to do that.

  5. I notice the single CPU scores are very good but even a 6-core ARM CPU scores way under the 4-core Intel CPU. Either Apple will target ARM Macs for general purpose users or Apple may need a more robust ARM design for Mac OS.

    Pro users depending on multi-threaded applications won’t take seriously a machine with such a low score. If this is an indication I already know I want nothing with ARM inside.

    1. You have to consider that these numbers were obtained from CPU’s that are running in power and thermally constrained small boxes, conditions far more restricted than your normal Intel CPU is expected to run. And, they still handily beat many of Intel’s currently shipping chips. Give it some normal PC cooling and voltage and I think we’d see these ramping up nicely.

      1. How reliable they will be under very heavy workloads, up to how many cores, will they be replaceable or soldered, will they have regular memory modules, will all 3rd party software be 100% compatible, will they play nice with other hardware and so on… All this has to be answered on day 1, these machines need to be more powerful and reliable.

        Of course, is possible in theory, but we have so many uncertainties. By the way today AMD and not Intel has the multi-core performance advantage, and they produce 32/64 cores monsters.

        1. “Of course, is possible in theory”
          Yes, I’m glad we agree 🙂 I could come up with an even longer list of “how’s”. Anyone who understands this at ANY level understands that “how” is just part of solving technical problems. And the “how’s” you list above are questions a company that builds it’s own chips has already shown skill in answering. And, many have probably already been answered internally, so them being answered on day 1 is a given upon when the solution is released.

      2. It doesn’t work that way. A chip is designed to run at a certain power input and heat dispersal. You can change that by a bit, but not by all that much. Overclocking can easily damage a chip if increasing speeds by more than 10-15%, or so. That’s not that much of an improvement in performance. But it’s about the best Apple can do when moving a chip from a phone to a tablet. Moving to a thin laptop won’t make much more of a difference.

        The entire chip needs to be redesigned for higher power input, and then you have a different chip. There is no known way to get around it. Right now, Apple’s latest chips are equal to the i3 ultra low power x86, and close in a number of ways to the i5 ULP chips. They even come close to a few areas in the 17ULP chips. But don’t make the mistake to think that they’re competitive with the i3, i5 and i7 low power chips, because they’re not. And as far as Desktop chips using 35 to 160 Watts, well, let’s not even go there.

        That doesn’t mean that Apple can’t design a competitive chip. No doubt they can. But they will use a lot more power, and cost a lot more. One reason why the A series costs between $34-38, according to Microprocessor Reports, is because Apple uses 160 million in a year, the year they come out, and continues to use those chips in lower phones.m but they won’t need more than 10 million of one chip for the Mac, bringing that cost up more than a bit.

        There’s no utopia here, no matter what ignorant writers say.

  6. Glad I built a hackintosh, and the day apple makes OS X a walled garden with only an app store for software installation is the day I’m done with the platform.

    i don’t care about the cpu per say, My concern is they’ll launch OS X on ARM and it’ll be as locked down as iOS. – No thanks.

  7. They can certainly build MacBooks with non-Intel processors. They will be about as popular as any other computer that is limited to email and surfing the web. I need access to Windows applications at full execution speed.

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