Apple could dump Intel processors in 2020

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MacBook Internal makeup
Sooner than you might think, MacBooks could use Apple's own chips instead of Intel processors.
Photo: Apple

A major change to Mac laptops and desktops could be coming in the next few years. A respected analyst is the latest to say that Apple will put its own A-series processors in its Mac computers rather than Intel chips.

The A series was originally created for the iPhone, but has evolved to the point where its performance rivals desktop processors.

Ming-Chi Kuo from KeyBanc Capital Markets sent a note to investors this morning saying that the first Mac without an Intel chip could be out in 2020 or 2021. This is inline with a report from Bloomberg earlier this year.

While this idea once would have been ridiculous, the latest A-series processors are already more powerful than the silicon in Apple’s entry-level laptops. The iPhone XS Max with an Apple A12 Bionic processor scored 11,145 on Primate Labs’ Geekbench 4 test for multi-core performance. It scored 4795 on the single-core one. For comparison, the most recent MacBook Air with an Intel Core i5 chip scored 6621 on the multi-core test and on the 3653 single-core one. 

Another reason Intel processors could get the boot 

If these unconfirmed reports are true, it will be the third time Apple has changed the architecture of Mac processors. The earliest computers ran on Motorola 68000 chips, then there was PowerPC in the 1990s. The switch to Intel happened in 2005 because it offered better chips for laptops.

These days, however, Intel has difficulties consistently developing improved processors. The company originally planned to have its Cannon Lake series on the market in 2016. It now expects to have these 10-nanometer chips in devices by the end of this year. Apple had reportedly hoped to build this fall’s low-cost MacBook around a Cannon Lake chip, but is being forced to use a processor from last year instead.

In contrast, Apple and TSMC consistently release faster A series processors, that also draw less current, every year.

macOS and iOS merging… but not really

Apple has emphatically stated that it’s not merging iOS and macOS. What it is doing is developing a framework that will allow iOS apps to run natively on Mac.

This process would be much easer if the Mac was running an A-series chip, as that’s the architecture that iPhone and iPad software was originally designed for.