According to respected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple launched their first ARM-based Mac without an Intel chipset early next year.
“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,” Kuo wrote.
Kuo made a similar prediction in 2018, shortly after a series of news reports published around two years ago first said Apple should analyze Intel CPU’s to concentrate on its own custom-built ARM architecture-based processors. So it looks as if the initial Kuo forecast holds for a release date of 2021.
The company moved the Mac back in 1994 from its initial Motorola 68000 series platform to the Target (Apple-IBM-Motorola) PowerPC chip alliance. Then the Mac changed platform again in 2006, from PowerPC to Intel, where it remains at present.
Both times, the key to a successful transition was emulation software that allowed applications written for the previous platform to run until native versions were available, without too much performance hit.
The first Mac with an ARM processor could allow Apple to track the Mac release schedule more closely and provide improvements, such as improved battery life. But it may be facing challenges to ensure that the applications running on Mac computers still run on the new models, as the processors are different.
The next Mac with an Apple-designed processor, the 2020 aluminum iPhone and a high-end aluminum iPad with a mini LED display expected to use 5-nanometer chips for the second half of 2020.
Chips built on a 5-nanometer node will be faster and more efficient than the A13 chips used in the new iPhones built on a process of 7-nanometer+.
Apple has never been on record admitting that it will ditch Intel for Mac CPUs, but the company’s job listings over the past few years have highlighted its plans to trim chipmaker reliance and develop its own processors.