At its annual Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC) on June 22nd, Apple announced it will transition the Mac to its own custom silicon. It had long been rumoured that Apple was planning to end its long-standing collaboration with Intel Corporation and would begin making its own chips to power a new generation of Macs. This upcoming series of desktop-class 'Apple Silicon' will be the same as the chips that drive iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. Apple claims this will allow them to deliver "industry-leading performance and powerful new technologies" across the Mac lineup.
With over a decade of experience, Apple's successful silicon design team has been building and refining Apple systems on a chip (SoCs). The result is a fully scalable architecture custom designed for devices that lead the industry in unique features and performance per watt, and makes each of them best in class. On the Mac, this will enable industry-leading performance per watt and higher performance GPUs, allowing app developers to make even more powerful pro apps and high-end games. Access to Apple technologies such as the 'Neural Engine' will make the Mac a compelling platform for developers to use machine learning. The move will also create a common architecture across all Apple products, making it far easier for developers to write and optimise software for the entire Apple ecosystem. Critics will now find it difficult to maintain the argument that Apple neglects the Mac.
The transition is set to take place over a period of two years, and is something buyers will undoubtedly take into account when considering a replacement to their current device. Apple says it will continue to release Intel-based Macs until the transition to its own silicone is complete, and those legacy Intel devices will continue to be supported in MacOS updates for the foreseeable future. Investors will be pleased to see Apple removing its reliance on the external Intel Corporation, which in recent years has flagged in terms of release punctuality and chip performance, to an internal operation that has been class-leading for many years. In addition, without the need to purchase chips with a mark-up from an external company, Apple's manufacturing costs will likely go down. Whether or not this saving will be passed on to consumers is as yet unknown.
The move indicates that Apple's centre of gravity, one which has for some time focused on mobile technology, is working towards a more centralised model. Macs containing Apple Silicone will be able to run iPhone and iPad apps natively, and though it was not mentioned, it is clear that a wider convergence of technologies is taking place within the company. Even the upcoming iOS14, iPadOS14, and MacOS Big Sur, show major signs of increasing similarity. The transition to Apple silicone is among the biggest and most fundamental changes to the Mac, and sets a new, competitive standard for performance and chip-design across the industry.