Many expect Apple to announce a transition to ARM-based processors in Macs at WWDC 2020, but now it might be clearer just what systems will usher in that new era. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a generally good track record of supply chain-based predictions, claims in an investor note that the first ARM-based Macs will be a new version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro and a 24-inch version of a previously rumored iMac redesign. He goes so far as to suggest these Macs will show up in the fall, or earlier than the 2021 time frame from a Bloomberg rumor, although he warns the releases could slip to the first quarter of 2021.
Kuo also said that the new Macs could be between 50 percent to 100 percent faster than their Intel-based counterparts, although he didn’t provide specifics. The Bloomberg story had the first ARM machine packing a 12-core processor.
The analyst believed there would be a brand new MacBook design arriving in the middle of 2021, although he didn’t say whether or not that would be the purported 12-inch ARM-based MacBook.
There’s no guarantee things will pan out as Kuo described, even if he’s completely accurate. The COVID-19 pandemic and development hitches could delay a release despite Apple’s best intentions. A debut with smaller iMacs and MacBook Pros wouldn’t be surprising, mind you. ARM tends to fare best in mobile devices and other low-power hardware, and there might not be as many expectations around legacy support as there will be for higher-end systems. This also gives Apple more time to refine its ARM technology for premium Macs and, if necessary, to tweak designs based on real-world feedback.