ARM iMac with custom Apple GPU could arrive in second half of 2021

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This iMac concept reflects what a lot of people want.
Could it look something like this?
Photo: Daniel Bautista

A brand-new iMac, powered by Apple Silicon combined with a custom Apple GPU, will land during the second half of 2021, according to a new report.

Codenamed “Lifuka,” the all-in-one is expected to use 5-nanometer chips manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company — like those destined for iPhone 12 and other Apple Silicon machines later this year.

Apple finally confirmed plans to ditch Intel in favor of its own Apple Silicon chips back in June during the Worldwide Developers Conference. The company also promised that its first machines powered by custom ARM processors would arrive this year.

A recent rumor predicted that one of the first Apple Silicon devices will be a 12-inch MacBook that could sell for as little as $849. But Apple will have more exciting ARM machines up its sleeve for 2021, according to a new report from The China Times.

ARM iMac with Apple graphics on the way

And it seems Intel won’t be the only Apple partner getting the chop. A new report out of Asia suggests that AMD, which currently provides graphics chips for iMac and Mac Pro, will also be phased out.

“In the past, Apple introduced Mac personal computers with Intel CPUs, equipped with Nvidia or AMD GPUs, but industry insiders pointed out that Apple has cancelled support for AMD GPUs in the macOS Arm 64-bit operating system,” explains The China Times.

Instead, the next-generation iMac could reportedly feature an all-new GPU “developed and designed by Apple.” Sources say development of the chip, which is expected to beat rival GPUs by providing better performance per watt, is “progressing smoothly.”

Apple already designs its own GPUs for iPhone and iPad; its first was introduced with the A13 chip inside iPhone 11. But those are integrated graphics processors; it’s likely those for an upcoming iMac and other high-end Apple machines will be dedicated graphics chips.

Apple goes all in on ARM

Now that Apple’s switch to custom ARM chips is official, it will likely be going all-out to replace Intel in all its notebook and desktop machines as quickly as possible. It is believed Cupertino is already working on at least three chips that are based on iPhone 12’s A14 processor.

However, it will likely be several years before the transition is complete — and even longer before the majority of Mac users replace their Intel machines with new ones powered by Apple Silicon.

Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated the wrong year for the ARM iMac release. It supposedly will land in the second half of 2021.