The MacBook ARM

It feels like every year now, new rumors pop up about Apple switching the Mac from Intel processors to custom, Apple-made processors based on ARM. The same type of processors that currently run everything from the iPhone to iPad to Apple TV.

Now, scuttlebutt has it that Apple’s had ARM based Macs in the labs for years, just like they Intel Macs in the lab before the big switch to PowerPC — wow, 15 years go already. They’ve just been holding them, like a silicon sword of Damocles, over Intel’s head to encourage Intel to stick to their roadmap.

Which is part of what excites so many people about Apple potentially switching the Mac lineup to in-house chipsets: Apple would be in control of it’s own processor destiny on Mac the way it has been on iPhone and iPad.

In an age where Intel has suffered from chronic, almost crippling delays in die shrink and process generation, where they’re barely getting to 5 nanometer years behind schedule and still throwing cores at every problem, Apple is already enjoying the benefits of their own A-series on 7 nanometer and moving rapidly towards 5.

And yes, those are all marketing names, but suffice it to say Apple is shipping silicon on time and to spec and Intel really, sadly is not.

But, on the flip side, many Mac customers have come to enjoy if not totally depend on on the Mac being Intel Inside. The software they run is compiled for x86 and 64. They can easily run Bootcamp or virtual machines so Windows also works on the Mac.

And, for those people, the idea of Apple moving away from Intel is terrifying.

Now, I’m going to do a series of videos on this where I try to separate facts from feels. Starting with the silicon and with AnandTech’s own Dr. Ian Cutress.

Hit the video to watch it all.

Now, I think conventional wisdom is that we’ll see Apple start small, with a new 12-inch MacBook or a MacBook Air variant on ARM, maybe even a new Mac mini, and use those to both test the waters and reduce anxiety levels for pros.

But there’s a change Apple could be much more aggressive here as well.