Ming Chi Kuo: Apple’s ARM-based Mac coming in first half 2021

Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo said in a note to investors this morning that Apple’s first ARM-based Mac featuring an Apple-designed processor is set to be released during the first half of 2021.

Apple ARM-based Mac. Image: MacBook Air

Juli Clover for MacRumors:

Kuo’s detail about an upcoming Mac with an Apple-designed chip is a tidbit mentioned briefly in a note that suggests 5-nanometer chip architecture will be the “core technology” in Apple’s new products in the next 12 to 18 months.

We expect that Apple’s new products in 12-18 months will adopt processors made by 5nm process, including the new 2H20 5G iPhone, new 2H20 iPad equipped with mini LED, and new 1H21 Mac equipped with the own-design processor. We think that iPhone 5G support, ‌iPad‌’s adoption of innovative mid-size panel technology, and Mac’s first adoption of the own-design processor are all Apple’s critical product and technology strategies. Given that the processor is the core component of new products, we believe that Apple had increased 5nm-related investments after the epidemic outbreak. Further, Apple occupying more resources of related suppliers will hinder competitors’ developments.

MacDailyNews Take: We were hoping to at least hear about Apple’s new ARM-based Mac at WWDC 2020 in June. Maybe we still will – even with a 1H21 release target?

Intel is well-past its glory days. Today, Intel’s claim to fame – besides not being able to make modem chips very well – is peddling inefficient, embarrassing, fatally-flawed junk. — MacDailyNews, May 15, 2019

Apple has been, for years, building strength in the enterprise via BYOD and the rise of mobile which Apple ushered in with iPhone and iPad. “Compatibility with Windows” is not nearly as important today as it was even a few years ago… We expect to see Apple begin the ARM-based Mac transition with products like the MacBook and work their way up from there as the apps are brought over to ARM via Xcode and as the rest of the world continues to throw off the Microsoft Windows shackles into which they stupidly climbed so many years ago, lured, wrongly, solely by Windows PC sticker prices.MacDailyNews, June 19, 2019

Here at MacDailyNews, we’ve been thinking about and anticipating this for many years:

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

28 Comments

      1. Why? Icloud is free. Apples “common” apps are free. $2.99 a month for 200GD storage.
        There is a whole market out there for a low cost Mac. And arm based one, modeled on a chromebook would find a ready market and the processor differentiates the lines.

      2. Why do you believe that the next generation Apple ARM- based SoC will be “underpowered” for a MacBook?

        The current generation already has reasonable specs for a MacBook, and maybe even for a low-end MacBook Pro. If Apple is able to employ two or four SoCs in parallel (or add more cores to the die), then an ARM-based Mac might blow away an Intel I7 in a head-to-head matchup.

        I am looking forward to A-series SoCs in Macs. That will allow Apple to chart its own course separate from Intel, which does not appear to have anything revolutionary in its pipeline. Another possible path for Apple is to start using AMD processors.

        1. you can’t compare specs between an arm and an intel cpu. RISC vs CISC. ARM might seem awesome, when you are doing single light tasks at a time. it excels at that.
          lets see a feature being edited in FCPX or Pro Tools running on an arm… or someone comping a 300 layer scene in Nuke? arm is great, for iOS.

          1. Take into account:
            RISC EXCELS IN MULTITASKING. In fact, multitasking, multithreading and some of the actual CPU technologies were developed in the Digital Alpha RISC platform 30-25 years ago.
            It’s time to let RISC execute Windows (that was the CISC reason to fill the market).
            In fact, RISC has the advantage of splitting tasks in up to 8 threads/core.
            Power 9 CPU from IBM have some solutions you’ll see in the next years on CISC.

            1. What it seems is that the low end will become better, but the high end is already much better.

              ARM may actually be better suited for the “good enough, most people” crowd. The Mac Pro fills the old Silicon Graphics, industry specific crowd.

              For advanced home users, Windows + AMD or Intel will be the norm. I also expect the return of “the computer you want costs $5K”.

    1. Surface RT with an Apple sticker. Not a good idea.

      I get it that there are still a bunch of Apple designers who think that thin port-free fashion designs are what everyone should want. They would be wrong (again). The overpriced underpowered single-port MacBook was a sales disaster. The iPad “Pro” is an earnings flop too. Except for special corporate apps designed for specific work purposes, most general iPad apps completely suck compared to Mac apps for creative, office, and technical uses. The sales prove it. MacBook Pros earn more and attract a much wider audience, because people need more flexibility than iOS allows.
      Mac users are creators — they need the convenience and power that comes with a fully featured design. Attempting to shrink capability down to an ARM chip is the wrong move. iPads are already available to serve that niche of the market.

      What many people have asked for is an affordable chunky plastic MacBook for students and low-end users. It doesn’t need the fastest 5 nanometer chip, it simply needs to be durable with a great keyboard and a decent display size (>13″) and a price < $1k. That need is NOT served by having a chipset that’s incompatible with 90% of the world’s personal computing software.

      On a larger sense, Apple needs to redouble its efforts to make the Mac software market vibrant again. There are way too few pro level software packages available natively for it. Were Apple to be stupid enough to cut off Mac support for x86 software altogether, and the Mac platform could die quickly.

        1. Sure, Apple abandons stuff all the time. Apple let many products die on the vine. That still offers no evidence of Mac apps that work anywhere near as well/capably as the competition. If the Mac loses its ability to run Windows programs, it would be completely unattractive to power users, business users, scientists, etc.

          If Apple wants to build a cute portable iPad with a built-on keyboard and name it a Mac, they will be violating the remaining faith that longtime suffering Mac customers have.

          Might as well stick on more meaningless labels if you’re going to call a mobile ARM device a Mac. Call it a Nano Air Pro iMacPod SE Max Plus Extreme. Make sure to offer it in Rose Gold with a Hermès leather case and a matching wrist strap.

        1. When Apple gets around to running a full CISC-compatible MacOS on ARM architecture without a huge performance deficit to x86 chips, then you might get the attention of 3rd party software developers. Until then, they’ll sit out. They know iOS and iPadOS are useless for workstations, scientific computing, and productivity, as any objective review of those neutered ARM apps will tell you.

          People who were fully satisfied with iPads claimed they didn’t need an old heavy laptop, why the excitement for Apple chosing to license ARM for yet another product line? How technically is ARM better or cheaper for PERSONAL computers? You know, personal computers allow you to store data locally, plug in peripherals, multiple input and output devices, do your own programming, and even add or replace hardware. If you can do everything you need by smearing your finger around the screen, then why wouldn’t you stay satisfied with that highly limited OS? Or is your hatred for non-ARM chipmakers so great that you want the Mac platform destroyed further than the last decade of neglect has left it?

          1. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand the differences between chips and why would I care?

            What I care about as a PRO user for four decades is the fastest chip at the lowest price working with my existing software.

            Analogy: I fly the stealth bomber to greater heights, without having to work under the hood…

  1. According to the ARM experts, these are the reasons that Apple should spend billions to chase after Google Chrome, an OS that relies on the end user staying connected to the mother ship:

    “ARM processors provide better performance at what most people do”. This statement assumes that you will never grow as a user. Be happy with your bicycle, it will get you anywhere you need to be. Never mind the fact that in the real world, people clearly buy trucks and truck-like stuff because excess capacity might be used on occasion, and people like getting around a lot faster than what stripped down mobile hardware allows. They like full sized keyboards and old school mice and trackballs, and ports, and all kinds of stuff that an ARM-equipped iPad just doesn’t offer, and will not offer.

    “An ARM processor produces less heat.” Less heat than what? You’d have to do apples-to-apples comparisons to have meaningful data to prove this point. ARM fans never bring this data to bear. The real story is that mobile processors are optimised to use low power when not performing tasks. If you are using your machine for any serious work — you know this very well — your iOS device gets very warm and immediately starts throttling.

    “Apple’s ARM chips are special”. Sure they are. Just like every other licensed ARM chip.

    “Apple’s ARM chips will be cheaper.” Suuuuuuuure they will. From a fashion house that brags about watchbands and spends half of every new hardware release keynote showing how many ports it removed from the prior generation. Of course Timmy wants to save you money, that’s why the aged hardware in most Mac models today is so heavily discounted…

    “Apple has T1 and T2 and other accessory chips that work with an ARM cpu.” How is this superior to Apple’s accessory chips used with x86 platforms? If ARM needs so many coprocessors in order to manage personal computing functions, what is its architectural advantage again?

    Apple making its own chips will give it control of its own destiny.” Really? So licensing a chip architecture from ARM in the UK, customizing it to fit in an ultrathin alyoooooooominyum and glass case, and sending it to to Asia (Samsung or Taiwan Semiconductor) for manufacturing is better than coordinating directly with US manufacturer Intel, or Motorola, or IBM? What’s better by adding the ARM license in the middle? Does Sammy and TS have the spare capacity? What incentive do they have to price their work significantly below AMD or Intel?

    “Apple will finally have universal apps.” No, they won’t. Not any apps I want. Keep your touch-enabled Watch/Phone/Tablet dumbed-down thin client consumerist apps the hell away from my Mac.

    “Apple will be able to start fresh and leave behind old code.” How is this a benefit to end users? Sounds like a forced march to subscriptionware to me. And look how great Pages & Numbers are since Apple abandoned all that old Pages & Numbers code. Aren’t we all happy with how impressive the new stripped-down apps are, because they now do 70% of what competing office suites do?

    “Apple will ease the transition period by making a Rosetta again.” Sure, that’s what Cook told you? Please provide quotes. He already axed 32 bit apps from the Mac. He obviously is clueless about supporting the users who kept the lights on for the company 20 years ago.

    “Apple will be able to package ARM chips into smaller devices.” Ah, so you want to limit computing power on your laptop/desktop so that the integrated non-repairable CPU-GPU can be squeezed into a device that is smaller than the current Mac mini or MacBooks. How exactly is that better for users?

    The much-hyped transition away from Intel chips sounds worse than Trumpcare, the greatest health plan never seen.

    Apple finally, after 6 years of sitting on their thumbs, released a proper workstation. It has Intel Xeon chips in it. Apple priced it out of sight so obviously they aren’t going for mass market. But if ARM was the superior platform, Apple had many years to polish it and stick it in its latest fancy machined alyoooooominyum case. Apple didn’t. Apple will continue to build Mac Pros with Intel chipsets for the next 6+ years because that’s the more capable architecture. Apple also finally put its hideous clicky clack butterfly keyboard fiasco behind it with the new MacBook Pro, sporting Intel chips. My only question is, why can’t Apple update its Mac lineup more regularly and fill the gaping holes in its product lineup? If Apple used current Intel chips in all its Macs, and priced those Macs at appealing prices, then there would be no undercurrent speculating that Macs need ARM to survive. Macs need regular updates, proper pricing, and new and better software. That’s what the Mac platform needs.

    1. “The much-hyped transition away from Intel chips sounds worse than Trumpcare, the greatest health plan never seen.”

      The chip wars have absolutely nothing to do with “Trumpcare” a PARTISAN CHEAP SHOT. Not that I am surprised, but stick with tech criticism is your talent as you utterly FAIL at OBJECTIVE political posts…

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