Apple starts its two-year transition to ARM this week

The company plans to ship its first ARM-based Mac by the end of the year.


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.