Apple Inc. is planning a series of new Mac processors to roll out as early as 2021 that aim to surpass Intel Corp’s fastest.
Chip engineers from the capertino, a tech giant from California, are working on several successors to the custom M1 chip, Apple’s first Mac main processor discovered in November. If they meet expectations, they will outperform the latest Intel-chip machines, according to people familiar with the issue who have asked not to be named because the plans are not public yet.
Apple’s M1 chip has been featured in a new entry-level MacBook Pro laptop, an updated Mac mini desktop, and across the MacBook Air range. The company’s next chip series, slated for release as early as spring and later this fall, is expected to be rolled out in updated versions of the MacBook Pro, entry-level iMac desktops and high-end, and later a new Mac professional job. , people say.
The roadmap sets out Apple’s confidence that it can differentiate its products based on its own engineering and is taking concrete steps to design Intel components from its devices. Apple’s next two chip lines are also expected to be more ambitious than some industry observers expected for next year. The company said it plans to complete the transition from Intel and to its own silicon in 2022.
While Intel gets less than 10% of its revenue from supplying Mac chips to Apple, the rest of its PC business is subject to turmoil if the iPhone maker can clearly deliver better performing computers. It could accelerate shock in an industry that has long been dependent on Intel’s speed of innovation. For Apple, the move eliminates this addiction, deepens its differentiation from the rest of the PC market, and gives it the ability to increase its small but growing share of PCs.
A spokesman for Apple declined to comment. Developing and manufacturing chips is complex, and changes are common throughout the development process. Apple may still choose to block these chips in favor of lower versions for Macs next year, people said, but nevertheless plans highlight Apple’s vast ambitions.
Apple’s Mac chips, like those in its iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, use technology licensed by Arm Ltd., the chip design company whose designs underpin much of the mobile industry and the it is acquired by Nvidia Corp. Apple designs the chip and outsourcing Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which Intel took the lead in chip manufacturing.
The current M1 chip inherits a mobile-centric design built around four high-performance processing cores to speed up tasks like video editing and four energy-saving cores that can handle less intensive jobs like web browsing. For its next-generation chip targeting MacBook Pro and iMac models, Apple is working on projects with up to 16 power cores and four efficiency cores, people said.
While that component is under development, Apple may choose to release variants first with only eight or 12 of the high-performance cores enabled depending on production, they said. Chip makers are often forced to offer some models with lower specifications than originally intended due to manufacturing problems.
For high-end desktop computers planned for late 2021 and new, smaller Mac Pro slates to launch by 2022, Apple is testing a chip design with a staggering 32 high-performance cores.
With today’s Intel systems, Apple’s high-end laptops offer up to eight cores, a high-end iMac Pro is available with up to 18, and the more expensive Mac Pro desktop includes up to a 28-core system. Although architecturally different, Apple and Intel chips rely on splitting workloads into smaller serial tasks that multiple processing cores can work on simultaneously.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc., which has gained market share at Intel’s expense, offers standard desktop components with up to 16 cores, with some of its high-end gaming PC chips going up to 64 cores.
While M1 silicone is well received, the Macs that use it are Apple’s lower-end systems with less memory and fewer ports. The company is still selling Intel high-end versions based on some of the lines that have received M1 updates. The M1 chip is a variant of a new iPad processor that will be included in a new iPad Pro coming next year.
Apple engineers are also developing more ambitious graphics processors. M1 processors are offered today with a modified Apple graphics engine in 7 or 8 core variants. For its future high-end laptops and mid-range desktops, Apple is testing 16- and 32-core graphics parts.
Later in 2021 or possibly 2022, Apple is working on a more expensive graphics upgrade with dedicated 64 and 128 cores aimed at its higher-end machines, people said. Those graphics chips would be many times faster than the current graphics modules that Apple uses from Nvidia and AMD in its Intel-based hardware.