Arm ousts Intel at heart of Apple’s new Mac magic
US tech titan Apple is celebrating Independence Day early – and for long-term Cambridge UK partner Arm the outcome is just Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Thirty years after Apple backed a fledgling Arm to break free from Acorn it has decided to produce its own processors as the heart of its future Mac computers – and will ditch the Intel insides to base the new models on Arm architecture.
As an example of a virtuous circle the new Arm-Apple alliance takes some beating. Apple is building a new, dedicated R & D nerve centre in Cambridge which continues to be the springboard for Arm’s relentless global growth.
Apple already uses ARM designs in smartphones and mobile tablets, including the iPhone and iPad.
Apple revealed at its World Wide Developers Conference, held virtually for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic, that the first silicon-based Mac would ship by the end of 2020 and based on Arm IP.
The full transition will probably take two years, which gives developers time to modify the relevant apps.
For Apple the benefits are many and obvious; with its proprietary Arm-based chips it will control future development of its hardware and software just as it does with the iPhone and iPad offerings.
And for users the upside is massive: nextgen Macs will be extremely powerful and ultra efficient with longer battery life and the potential for built-in mobile broadband.
Apple says the move will also enhance security and enable the company to leverage novel tech innovations like the the AI neural engine and some unparalleled graphics capability.
Continually refined Arm graphics tech is already being used to accelerate innovation across a broad raft of industries, not least in automotive.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said: “From the beginning the Mac has always embraced big changes to stay at the forefront of personal computing. Announcing our transition to Apple silicon makes this an historic day for the Mac.
“With its powerful features and industry-leading performance, Apple silicon will make the Mac stronger and more capable than ever. I’ve never been more excited about the future of the Mac.”