Apple to unveil Macs with their own processors, widening its app ecosystem

(Reuters): Apple Inc AAPL.O on Tuesday is expected to introduce Mac computers with its own processor chips, marking the start of its move away from Intel Corp’s INTC.O chips.
Apple said in June that it would begin outfitting Macs with its own chips, which will build on its decade-long history of designing processors for its iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches.

The new chips, which will be unveiled in a webcast event on Tuesday, will make it far easier for the millions of apps currently available for iPhones to migrate to Macs, which have been overshadowed by smart phones.

Apple’s phone chips draw on computing architecture technology from Arm Ltd and manufactured by outside partners such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp 2330.TW, or TSMC.

The new “Apple Silicon” chips will mark a departure from Intel, whose chips Apple has used since 2006, when it successfully transitioned away from chips made by International Business Machines Corp IBM.N. Intel has disclosed delays with its internal chipmaking operations that have caused it to fall behind TSMC in making smaller, more power-efficient chips.

Power efficiency – that is, getting the most computing done per watt of energy consumed – is one of Apple’s key aims.

“Normally, to get more performance you have to consume more power,” Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, said at an event announcing the chips in June. “Our plan is to give the Mac a much higher level of performance, while at the same time consuming less power.”

Microsoft Corp MSFT.O and Qualcomm Corp QCOM.O have been working together for four years to bring Arm-based Windows laptops to market, with major makers such as Lenovo Group Ltd 0992.HK, Asustek Computer 2357.TW and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd 005930.KS offering machines.

But for both Microsoft and Apple, the true test is whether software developers embrace Arm-based laptops. Apple is hoping that the massive group of iPhone developers will embrace the new Macs, which will share a common 64-bit Arm computing architecture with the iPhone and be able to use similar apps.

In the meantime, Apple has seen a boom in Mac sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, notching record fiscal fourth quarter Mac sales of $9 billion earlier this month – all of them Intel-based. In June, Chief Executive Tim Cook said Apple will continue to support those devices for “years to come” but did not specify an end-of-life date.