On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Apple will announce plans to implement its own processor into Macs starting next year. Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference will be held later this month, giving developers time to adjust their products to the new hardware.
The computer processor world has been traditionally dominated by two players: Intel and AMD. Almost all laptops and computers available today bear stickers for either one or both processors, meaning tech companies are often limited to the designs offered by those computer chips.
Apple’s in-house processor will draw from the same chips installed in iPhone and iPads and will continue operating on macOS. Apple last switched processors in 2006 when it rolled out its first Intel-powered Macs.
Apple’s dissatisfaction with Intel is reportedly the biggest driver of the shift. Rumors about the change began in 2018. Since then, the tech-giant has been testing Mac computers with its ARM-based processors, which they claim significantly increases performance over Intel.
Processing chips across all devices have become a hot topic as the imminent shift to 5G networks has brought the race to produce the first and best 5G compatible processor to a head. Last year, a U.S. district judge’s antitrust ruling subsequently slowed U.S.-based Qualcomm’s race to build a smartphone chip compatible with 5G ahead of competitors, such as controversial China-based Huawei.
Apple’s switch to in-house processors can come at the cost of fewer options for consumers, but has the potential to push chip manufacturers to accelerate innovation.
Still, software developers must now cater to yet another hardware system as Apple implements its own unique computer chip.
“Windows on ARM has performance issues with emulated apps and straight-up availability issues with apps that don’t work with its emulation,” Dieter Bohn wrote in an article for The Verge. “It’s entirely possible that Mac on ARM could face similar problems.”
This could be a big drawback for consumers, as certain apps may not be available depending on whether you buy a Mac or PC. This is already true between iPhones and Androids, where some apps are available on one, but not the other. Questions remain for developers if the shift is to occur.
Bohn notes that if Apple gives developers enough time to account for the change, and works closely with them to do so, then the company could see a lot of success.
“Announce as early as you can and go all-out to support developers big and small,” Bohn advised Apple. “If you want to avoid the stigma Windows faced (and still faces) with its ARM version, make sure that macOS on ARM absolutely flies.”