In a major shift that carries big implications for both companies, Apple will reportedly replace Intel’s processors with the company’s own chips in Mac computers as soon as 2020, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The changeover is likely to begin with laptops such as the 12-inch MacBook. Intel’s stock price took a hit soon after the report was published; Bloomberg estimates that Apple provides approximately 5 percent of the chipmaker’s annual revenue. Aside from the processors in its Macs, Apple also uses Intel’s modem chips in some iPhones.
Apple’s last major Mac processor transition of this scope occurred when it moved away from IBM’s PowerPC chips in favor of Intel’s. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs announced the move in 2005 and it was completed by the end of the following year. As in that earlier example, Bloomberg notes this would require a “multi-step transition.” Intel chips will almost certainly remain in Apple’s top-end machines like the iMac Pro and forthcoming Mac Pro revision until the company can produce in-house chips that are capable of meeting the demands of professional Mac users.
The decision to power Macs with its own chips comes after years of rapid improvement and evolution of the ARM-based processors that Apple has built into its iOS devices, the Apple Watch, and the Apple TV. Apple’s latest iPhones and iPads have grown more powerful than some of the company’s past Macs. Designing future Macs around its own chips would afford Apple more flexibility in releasing new products, and the added level of hardware control would also let the company further bolster security.
Apple is also planning to allow Mac computers to run iOS apps for a more seamless experience between mobile and desktop platforms, according to an earlier Bloomberg report. That new software cross-compatibility could arrive as soon as this year and will occur before the processor switchover.