Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) is slated to take place online later this month thanks to COVID-19. And in addition to the annual unveiling of the next version of iOS (rumored to have some nice features), reports from Bloomberg indicate Apple may also be announcing a huge under-the-hood change to its entire line of laptops: Apple may finally start putting its own chips in them.
Ever since 2005, Apple has been using Intel chips in its laptops, after switching off the ill=fated PowerPC chips it designed in part with IBM and Motorola. During that same time, Windows PCs have largely used the same general variety as well, the vast majority of which are based on what’s called “x86” microchip architecture. In layman’s terms, most laptops — Apple and Windows alike — have been built on the same basic foundation for years.
In 2010, Apple started making its own iPhone chips with the A4, which is based on a different foundation called “ARM” — one that is used by most Android and iOS mobile devices, owing to its great power efficiency. Now, according to reports, Apple is going to make the leap to bringing all of its laptops onto a home-grown ARM-based chip in one fell swoop.
Apple wouldn’t be the first company to try this. Other hardware companies have been dabbling with the notion too, because ARM-based processors allow for much smaller devices with much better battery life. The Microsoft Surface Pro X is one such device. The catch, however, is that software designed for the old x86 chips does not necessarily play nice on new ARM-based ones. The Microsoft Surface Pro X, for instance, was plagued with software compatibility problems.
While Apple’s announcement is rumored to happen this month, the switchover would reportedly not happen until next year, giving software developers time to prepare and potentially help shift the entire industry further towards ARM-based computing. It’s a big step, but one that Apple is very well suited to make considering every macOS device is made by Apple itself.
Only time will tell if this is, in fact, the plan and how smoothly rollout will go. But if everything goes to plan, you probably won’t even notice anything other than some better battery life.
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