During WWDC 2020, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Mac computers are going to transition from Intel-based processors to ARM-based processors. More specifically, Apple will be designing its own chips based on ARM (a chip manufacturing company). This means that the Mac CPU (Central Processing Unit), one of the most crucial components to a computer’s operation, will be changed, leading to a more advanced framework and flexibility.
So what are some advantages of this transition?
As Apple is creating its own custom chipset, the new CPUs can actually be better optimized for Macs. The current Intel processors are used for a variety of other computers as well, which means that while the chips will generally perform well for all devices, it is not specifically built for Macs. A switch to custom processors that are tailored for Macs will be able to increase the efficiency of the devices, such as increased battery life. Also, increased efficiency means decreased fan usage. It is common for Mac users to notice a roaring fan noise whenever rendering video on iMovie or using YouTube or Netflix for long periods of time. This chip transition may help decrease that particular discomfort.
Also, dependency on Intel processors may actually impact production and deadlines. For instance, if Intel is unable to deliver their updated processors on time for new Mac releases, then Apple’s production schedule will also be severely affected. Such delays actually happened repeatedly over the years, so a transition to custom-ARM chips may actually help Apple to release their own hardware on time. This also means that consumers will be able to get their hands on their new Macs when it is released.
As a side note, Apple’s other popular products, such as the iPhone and iPad, already run on Apple-designed chips. As Apple has full control over these chips, iOS can receive regular updates. Observing that these products and iOS actually do receive relatively more regular updates compared to macOS, a transition from Intel-based processors to ARM may allow Mac users to get more frequent updates to ensure maximum performance.
Furthermore, Apple is not the only one making a transition from its previous processors to ARM-based ones. Recently, a new Japanese-designed supercomputer became the world’s most powerful supercomputer (rank #1 on TOP500, a project that ranks the performance of supercomputers) by a significant margin: the Fugaku. Many supercomputers on the Top500 list are based on processors from Intel and IBM. In fact, Fugaku is the first computer to top the list as a computer-based on ARM processors. This may actually show how ARM processors may be brought to more widespread use in the near future.
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