Future Macs Run on Apple Silicon

image credit: Apple WWDC 2020

By Chand Bellur

June 26, 2020 at 4:04 p.m. PT

  • Apple recently announced that it will transition from Intel processors to its own chips.
  • Apple’s industry-leading processor design team has already created a generation of A-series processors for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV.
  • Apple can create cheaper, faster Macs with improved energy efficiency by switching to their own chips.

Apple Moves Away from Intel Processors

Intel is one of the most famous technology companies. Most people own Windows PCs with Intel processors. At the time of this writing, Intel holds an impressive 82% of the processor market.

Intel processors have been a fixture in the Macintosh since 2006. Before that, Apple used IBM’s PowerPC processors. The change took some effort, with software to bridge compatibility. Since Apple has sole control over its ecosystem, changes like this are more manageable than with a more chaotic ecosystem.

This change is coming soon. Apple already has Macs that run on a new A12Z processor. Developers can purchase a Mac Mini sporting an A12Z processor to adapt to the change.

For consumers, Apple will ship Macs with Apple silicon by the end of this year. Most analysts believe that Apple will start with the 13.3″ MacBook Pro.

Change Will Be Seamless to Users

If you’re concerned that Apple’s transition to A-series processors will be challenging, don’t worry. Apple has done this before, and, the last time, they had no control over the processor.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of Engineering, mentioned specific technologies and programs to help developers ease into working with these new Macs.

At this year’s WWDC, Craig announced Universal Apps and Rosetta 2. Universal Apps enable developers to create software capable of running on Intel and A-series Macs. Rosetta 2 provides compatibility for older apps running on new Macs.

If performance is a concern, the demos at the WWDC seemed to assuage developers’ and customers’ fears. These new Macs are far more potent than Intel-based Macs, even when they’re not running native apps.

Apple Will Still Make and Support Intel-Based Macs

If you recently purchased an Intel-based Mac, as I have, you may be concerned about how long it will last. After all, Apple may stop supporting these older Macs with macOS updates.

Tim Cook reassured consumers that Macs with Intel processors won’t be obsolete for years to come. In fact, Apple will still release Intel-based Macs for the foreseeable future.

A-Series Macs Can Run iOS and iPadOS Apps

If power and energy efficiency aren’t enough, Apple’s next generation of Macs will run iOS and iPadOS apps seamlessly. After all, these Macs will be running the same processors as the iPad Pro. With all of the system-on-chip capabilities of an iPadOS machine, these new Macs can run iOS and iPadOS just as well as an iPhone and iPad.

Such compatibility could be a problem for Apple. If the Mac can run iPadOS apps, why would anyone buy an iPad Pro? Fortunately, for Apple and consumers, these are still two very different machines. The Apple Pencil experience is exclusive to the iPad Pro. Graphic designers and artists will likely buy both the iPad Pro and Macintosh.

It looks like Apple has figured out everything. The Mac, once neglected, now has a bright future.

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