Apple's first Mac with in-house ARM processor slated for 2020 launch

If the iPad Pro can use an Apple-built processor, maybe a MacBook can too?

MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images/MediaNews Group/Getty Images

Apple is preparing to release a MacBook that uses an in-house ARM processor later this year, replacing the Intel chipsets the company has long used to power its computers. That's according to reputed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a Chinese-language report seen by 9to5Mac.

Apple's dumping of Intel has been years in the making — Kuo says that Apple's first ARM-based Mac will ship in late 2020 or early 2021, though the exact model of computer is unknown. There have long been rumors that Apple would make the jump from Intel that it began years ago with the development of its A-series processors, which power iOS devices including the iPhone and iPad Pro. The latter offers the closest comparable to a MacBook in terms of power and performance. Apple says the latest iPad Pro is faster than 93 percent of PC laptops.

Apple would be able to better control its destiny — If it were able to dump Intel, thereby dictating the release cycle for new chips and allowing itself to better customize the technology to its specific needs. It could also potentially increase the profits it earns on each computer because it wouldn't need to pay a middleman like Intel and could instead go straight to contract manufacturers to fabricate its chips. Apple is notorious for using ruthless negotiating tactics to save even the smallest amount of money wherever possible. The less it needs to rely on other companies for core pieces of technology, the stronger its hand is.

Apps could transfer between iOS and Mac — Creating an ARM-based MacBook would also enable applications to operate seamlessly between Mac and iOS devices. Apple already has a set of tools called Mac Catalyst for porting iPad apps to the Mac, but it's not comprehensive and doesn't work in the opposite Mac-iPad direction. There would likely be some hiccups transferring x86 applications designed for Intel-based Macs over to the new ARM-based Mac, however. There's speculation that due to this issue, Apple would first put an ARM processor in a slower Mac like the MacBook Air before moving to the MacBook Pro.

Allowing apps to function across devices could give consumers more choice and flexibility as to which form factor they prefer. Although initially a small, experimental business, Microsoft has found modest success with its well-regarded Surface line of tablet-laptop hybrid computers.