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Apple is reportedly building more of its own chips to use in Macs

Apple is reportedly building more of its own chips to use in Macs

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James Bareham

Apple is developing a new chip for Mac laptops that’s meant to improve their battery life while in sleep mode, according to Bloomberg.

The chip will reportedly handle some basic tasks, like checking for email and installing updates, while the computer is asleep. Apple currently relies on the MacBook’s main processor to handle these tasks, but by building a dedicated low-power processor, Apple could reduce battery consumption even further.

It could launch in a MacBook Pro later this year

The chip is supposed to be similar to the Apple-made processor that’s already being used inside MacBook Pros to manage the Touch Bar. That suggests this isn’t some bold initiative — yet, at least — to fully replace the Intel processor at the core of every MacBook with an Apple-designed ARM processor, like the ones used in iPhones and iPads. Instead, it seems like Apple plans to continue augmenting the Mac with ARM processors so it can get the benefits of both types of chip.

Bloomberg says that the chip “may” debut in an upgraded MacBook Pro that’s being planned for later this year. That’d be a good fit: the 13-inch Touch Bar model of the MacBook Pro has been frequently criticized for its poor battery life — I usually got between 5 to 6 hours when testing it out last year. Adding this chip could help to extend things a bit longer.

On the other hand, it’s not entirely clear how helpful this will be for anyone who doesn’t regularly leave their MacBook unplugged for hours and hours at a time. The battery benefits may only come into play when the laptop is asleep, so it sounds like Apple could be trying to improve its computers’ standby time — which it currently quotes at “30 days” — more so than how long they lasts during a day’s use.

Bloomberg notes that Apple may not even choose to highlight the existence of this new chip whenever it does get put inside a product, since MacBooks have had a low-power mode like this for several years now. That, too, seems to indicate that this may be more interesting as a step forward in Apple’s hardware story than as a feature inside the next Mac.