It’s the end of an era. Or at least the beginning of the end. Apple has officially announced that it will be switching from Intel processors to its own ARM-based, A-series chips in its Mac computers. The company already uses these SoCs (systems-on-a-chip) in its mobile devices, so this change will create a common architecture across Apple’s hardware ecosystem. During the WWDC keynote, CEO Tim Cook said that the transition to ARM-based chips will start this week and will take about two years to run its course -- about the same timeframe as when the company switched from IBM’s PowerPC architecture to Intel’s chips.
To help developers get a head start, Apple will be outfitting them with developer kits, which feature an A12Z Bionic SoC, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a slew of IO ports -- all inside a Mac mini chassis. Coders can also join learning sessions during this week’s online-only WWDC event to get up to speed on adapting their apps for this new architecture.
Cook said that Apple plans on shipping its first ARM-based Mac by the end of the year, but that Intel Macs will be supported for “years to come.” Hopefully owners of current Apple computers -- especially the more expensive models like the 16-inch MacBook Pro and Mac Pro -- can get plenty of life out of their hardware before needing to make the switch.
“Apple is a customer across several areas of business, and we will continue to support them,” an Intel spokesperson told Engadget. “Intel remains focused on delivering the most advanced PC experiences and a wide range of technology choices that redefine computing. We believe Intel-powered PC — like those based on our forthcoming Tiger Lake mobile platform — provide global customers the best experience in the areas they value most, as well as the most open platform for developers, both today and into the future.”
Update 4:35PM ET: This post has been updated with comments from Intel.