Macs powered by 5nm Apple A14 processors coming next year

Apple is prepping al-new Macs with the company’s own next-gen A14 processors by next year, Bloomberg News reports, citing “people familiar with the matter.” Apple’s foundry partner TSMC will handle the manufacturing as usual.

Back in February, 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

Mark Gurman, Debby Wu, and Ian King for Bloomberg:

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on three of its own Mac processors, known as systems-on-a-chip, based on the A14 processor in the next iPhone. The first of these will be much faster than the processors in the iPhone and iPad, the people said.

Apple is preparing to release at least one Mac with its own chip next year, according to the people. But the initiative to develop multiple chips, codenamed Kalamata, suggests the company will transition more of its Mac lineup away from current supplier Intel Corp.

The components will be based on a 5-nanometer production technique, the same size Apple will use in the next iPhones and iPad Pros, one of the people said.

The first Mac processors will have eight high-performance cores, codenamed Firestorm, and at least four energy-efficient cores, known internally as Icestorm. Apple is exploring Mac processors with more than 12 cores for further in the future, the people said.

In some Macs, Apple’s designs will double or quadruple the number of cores that Intel provides.

MacDailyNews Take: Buh-bye, Intel slug! Intel served its purpose, but has been a boat anchor for years. Hello, Apple-designed ARM-based Macs!

We’re hoping to hear more hear about Apple’s new ARM-based Mac at WWDC 2020 in June.

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


  1. What we’re actually reading is that an ARM powered Mac, if it does come next year, because this is still speculation no matter how many articles are being written, will supposedly be BASED on the A14. But it won’t be the A14. Possibly a 12 core model.

    We’ll see.

    1. YAssuming this does happen, and I hope it does…

      es. It absolutely won’t be the same version of the A14 that is in iPhones or iPads. Maybe an A14M version (for the Mac variant). It will have to support more I/O, e.g., PCIe and USB (USB 4 with TB 3?).

  2. We’ll need a Rosetta 2.0 to use all our current Intel-based software. Apple has done this kind of architecture transition before (PowerPC > Intel). They should be able to give us a relatively seamless transition.

    My biggest concern would be that Parallels and other virtual machine software for running Intel-based OS’s (Windows) will no longer run quickly. Virtual Machines running Windows on the PowerPC were deadly slow. Unfortunately, there are times I must run one or more Windows virtual machines. I’d rather not have to buy a Windows PC – not only from a cost perspective, but also from a work-flow perspective (in the past, somer projects have required handing documents back and forth between operating systems).

    1. That is a concern but less so than in previous years. For my applications – NOT to presume I know your applications – processor speed is not the issue, even a 20 – 50% performance hit would not slow me down like it would in years past. The increases in SSD, massive amounts of RAM and the graphics processor improvements have made me fear translators less and less. Additionally Parallel’s knows it better optimize the crap out of their software because so many of us are looking for any way or any excuse possible to quit sending them $50 bucks a year for worthless upgrades. I have to believe their installed base is shrinking every year as more and more software becomes Multiplatform or web based.

      1. Not all virtual machines only slow things down by 20% or even 50%.

        I remember years ago using VirtualP on a PowerMac (G4 with “mirror doors”)C. It worked OK with maybe a 50% performance hit from a native machine. Then Microsoft bought them. The first VirtualPC release after the MS purchase ran so slowly on my Mac that I could actually watch the order in which Windows XP drew the parts of the windows on the screen. Yes, it was that slow. Then MS came out with a “vastly improved” release that didn’t even get it up to the pre MMS excuse? They claimed they made VirtualPC more compliant with the Windows standards so supposedly fewer “glitches”. S versio’s speed, but was supposedly more stable.
        That’s effectively where it stayed until MS killed it for Macs.
        So, virtual machines can be a true pain. Very often to get near 100% compatibility and translation VMs can take much more than that 50% performance hit you mention. accuracy, much

  3. MDN,…

    The problem with Intel is only partly Intel’s fault when it comes to the Mac. Yes, Intel has not had the robust improvements year over year that they had years ago (and hasn’t for several years now). Intel is no longer the leading edge CPU supplier (and hasn’t been for a few years now).

    BUT the problem has been Apple’s too. For the past several years Apple has shipped “new” Macs with old version Intel processors. In some cases Apple has announced and started shipping “new” Macs with Intel processors that are as much as two full generations behind what Intel was shipping as the then current generation. So the problem with Macs not being leading edge hardware anymore is as much Apple’s fault as it is Intel’s.

    1. Good points; but in Apple’s defense, no 1st tier vendor implements the latest and greatest that Intel has to offer at once through all its product line; as a matter of fact, such a move could be counterproductive as It could cause a wait-and-see mindset for buyers, consequently affecting inventory. Also, sometimes the CPU performance from one generation to the next is not that much of a difference.

      In the greater scheme of things, controlling this key hardware component puts Apple in a better position to integrate and differentiate the Mac from its competitors.

        1. Great observation! While I doubt that these companies NEVER skipped a processor generation throughout ALL their product lines, I can agree that these companies have faster product refresh cycles than Apple. Ironically that’s not always a good thing. I’ll elaborate on this on a separate comment.

          Thanks for replying and be safe 🙂

        2. Hi. Hope you and your love ones are doing well, especially through these crazy times.

          1) I’ll use the abbreviation DHL to refer to Dell, HP and Lenovo.

          2) While your comment is more about refuting that “no 1st tier vendor implements the latest and greatest that Intel has to offer at once through all its product line”; the main subject here is not about winning the bragging rights of “leading edge”; it’s about determining the importance of controlling the design of critical components (two of these being the CPU and the OS) and which company is better positioned to do so.

          As I commented before, DHL may have a faster CPU product refresh cycle on PCs than Apple does on the Mac; but there’s a reason for that and it’s not necessarily always a good thing.

          The PC business model is based on horizontal integration (multiple companies controlling certain aspects of a product’s value stack): Intel controls the CPU, Microsoft the OS, and DHL plays the role of system integrator. This approach allows DHL to generate profits from hardware while being isolated from the risk and cost of R&D of the above mentioned critical components; on the flip side, it also means they’re basically at the mercy of whatever Intel and Microsoft throws at them and DHL has a no say on Intel’s and Microsoft’s roadmaps. The only room they have left to differentiate are industrial design and price/performance; this is why it is crucial for DHL to engage in frequent refresh cycles because it’s a key selling point, and not doing so would put them in a competitive disadvantage.

          Generating profits solely from hardware is a very slippery slope. While DHL are isolated from R&D expenses in CPU/OS, they still have to invest in R&D for industrial design and inventory costs (with some savings coming from purchasing in bulk at discount prices). While frequent product refresh cycles could give companies “leading edge” bragging rights, it shortens the window of opportunity for investment recovery, consequently increasing the risk of profit erosion from inventory costs. Now, in order to mitigate that effect, price cuts need to be made, further accelerating profit margin loss. Fast product refresh cycles are a catalyst of “profit burn”. How bad can this vicious cycle get? Let’s just say there’s a reason why ridiculously discounted sale events are known as “fire sales”!

          How many times DHL find themselves engaging in this business practice? Answer: more than they would like and believe me they’re not doing it for charity! The next time you see DHL engaging in fire sales, it’s most likely they’re trying to cut their losses due to a combination of losses from R&D and depreciating stagnate inventory. While this means consumers can get PCs at dirt cheap prices, it also means faster depreciation and lower resale value.

          Don’t get me wrong DHL, despite all these challenges, manages to thrive while providing some great industrial designs. Also, while it’s not perfect down in Apple land, but trying to pitch rapid CPU implementation as a competitive advantage over Apple is just not there.

          As always, peace and be safe.

  4. If history repeats itself, and this rumor is true, we should hear about this at WWDC in June. Apple announced the Intel transition at WWDC 2005 and started shipping Intel Macs in January 2006. Like before, I assume they will have some sort of development units available to developers shortly after WWDC. I know Microsoft has versions of Windows 10 for ARM, so maybe they will cut a deal with Apple to make that available for Boot Camp. There will still be app incompatibilities as most Windows apps are still going to be x86/x64, but doesn’t Microsoft have some sort of Rosetta like translation layer for Windows? I thought I read about that at one time. You will still take a performance hit, but at least the OS could run natively and Office as well. Maybe Parallels could take advantage of that.

    1. Bootcamp is needed to run Windows-specific x86 apps natively and nowadays that is narrowed down to a very niche group mainly consisting of gamers.I don’t see a need for Bootcamp on a ARM-based Mac because there are no apps exclusive to WoA.

      With that being said, my dream request for Mac on ARM is a Bootcamp like partition with iPadOS preinstalled or a subset of iOS APIs within MacOS to run iOS apps natively.

  5. So they would loose soo much open source software. I don’t know about you but as a developer home brew is incredible and is based on the ability of the gcc compiler to compile software for both linux and Mac. I do not see an open source c compiler that will allow home brew to work. It feels like Apple forgot their history when the Macs were running System 7 on Motorola chips.. I hope they remain on Intel or possibly migrate to AMD chips.

  6. Not going to happen.

    Macs with Arm would have to be way cheaper or way faster, way lighter. What is still nice about x86 is we can chuck Mac OS if we need to, or want to, or apple no longer allows the lastest os to run on a mac, the mac can run Windows.

    The value change would be a move to AMD or better yet, order whichever processor you want. That would allow apple to confuse pricing for a bit longer. That would also allow the creation of 10’s of thousands of jobs.

    1. Never say never.

      Yes it will be faster, lighter, and “cheaper” for a Mac product 😉

      MacOS “chuckers” represent a very TINY small percentage of the Mac user base. By the time Apple no longer supplies MacOS updates to a given Mac model, it’s REALLY time to think about getting a new Mac. Case in point, my previous MacBook Pro was 10 years old when it stopped receiving updates and it had a higher resale value than a my (at the time) 1-year old Win 10 Asus 2-in-1 laptop, I kid you not!

      If Apple plans a transition, it will not be towards yet another x86 provider and even less likely multiple suppliers, that’s not how Apple roles.

  7. These rumors remind me of the infamous TV from Apple rumors that refused to die for years. Sure Apple could do it and I am sure they built prototypes for all kind of devises. If this is to happen, the real question is why would this make sense? And I cannot come up with a compelling answer. Why use significant R&D money to develop low volume Ax Macs? On the other hand, more powerful AR devices could open interesting new markets in car visualisation systems, medical field, manufacturing, etc.

  8. Hi Palandrel. Interesting line of thoughts. It would kinda make more sense when you try looking at it from different angles:

    Angle #1: Is it possible to scale ARM beyond the iPad Pro? Answer: YES and it already has even to Mac Pro levels! Case in point, a company named Avantek is offering the Ampere eMAG 64bit ARM workstation with 32cores @ 2.8GHz / 3.3 GHz (Turbo); all preliminary test show that it is a beast!

    Angle #2: What about the “significant” investment in R&D? While there will always be R&D investments involved, it’s not as significant as you think. ARM for iOS ecosystem will serve as a solid foundation for Apple’s Mac on ARM efforts; also economies of scale will kick in helping Apple recover its investments. Case in point: thanks to economies of scale, Apple managed to place the same A13 chip that runs the $999 iPhone inside the its entry level iPhone SE starting at $399!

    Angle #3: Are there any compelling reasons? Yes, for all the reasons mentioned above!

    I think it is safe to say that even Apple would agree with you that it wouldn’t make sense to release an ARM on Mac only to remain stagnate on Intel as well. After all, duo architectures for Mac is just not Apple’s style! Now IF an ARM based Mac ever sees the light of day, it’s because Apple is absolutely sure ARM can serve the whole Mac line better than x86, now and in the future. Only then we will see a multi year transition plan.

    NOTE: while I’m not sure if I made a compelling case good enough for you, that’s ok cause it’ll always be fun to speculate 😉

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