Apple has announced yet again another special event for next Tuesday, 10 November 2020. The event is called “One more thing” which was a favorite phrase of Steve Jobs during his keynotes. Those words “one more thing” always meant Apple had one more big announcement up its sleeves at the end of an Apple keynote.
One More Thing
In the tradition of “one more thing,” Apple has usually saved up the best for last and we have already seen some remarkable new product upgrades this fall. So what could top what Apple has already given us?
The answer is Apple Silicon Macs!
Bloomberg is reporting some details on these new Macs as a set of laptops with the new 5-nm process ARM-based custom SoC chips inside them. The new Apple Silicon SoC chip inside these new Macs is based on the latest Apple A14 Bionic in the new iPhone 12. What we don’t know about the new Apple Silicon inside the upcoming new Macs is how much different will that chip be from the A-series chips Apple puts into its iOS devices like iPads and iPhones. Will the chip be much larger (hold more transistors) and contain other specialized computational units? These are the questions we have today and we can only speculate on the answers.
What we do know is that Apple has said these new chips will be customized for the macOS operating system and the thermal envelopes of the Macs running that system. As Architosh has mentioned before, (see: architosh INSIDER Xpresso, #20, Oct 2020) the thermal envelopes of Macs vary widely and are vastly larger than iPads and iPhones. This gives Apple room to put in much bigger ARM-based chips into the Macs. The larger thermal envelopes also provide Apple the opportunity to speed up the frequency these chips run at over what happens inside iOS devices.
What to Expect
We will just have to wait and see what the future holds for Apple Silicon SoCs inside next-gen Macs. It won’t be long now. What Bloomberg is reporting is these new ARM-based Macs will be new 13-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros and a new 13-inch MacBook Air.
The fastest chip in the latter unit above today is 1.2GHz 4-core i7 with Turbo Boost to 3.8Ghz. The A14 Bionic today—which the new Apple Silicon Macs SoCs are based on—is a 1.8Ghz 6-core A14 with turbo boost to 3.01GHz (on 1-6 cores). This appears to be a modest improvement on the i7 chip from Intel but, again, Apple is basing the new Apple Silicon on the A14 not inserting the exact chip into new Macs.
Bloomberg reports Apple is currently at work on a redesign for the iMac and a new Mac Pro model that looks like the current model but is smaller in size. These updates, plus an updated Mac mini will likely take place throughout 2021 and into 2022. Apple said previously the transition to Apple Silicon will be a two-year process and they will continue to offer Intel-based Macs during this transition period.
These new Apple Silicon Macs may feature far greater battery life than the Intel MacBook Pros and Air. But we believe Apple will showcase the computational power of the new Macs with its own Apple Silicon, especially for the MacBook Pro models.
We have already seen over the years just how fast Autodesk’s AutoCAD is on the iPad Pro. This isn’t to say we expect Apple and Autodesk to surprise us next week with an AutoCAD for Mac update that brings in support for Apple Silicon. It could happen but likely won’t. Instead, we expect other but similar technical software offerings coming over from the iOS software world to the macOS software world. And we expect to be quite impressed with the sheer power these new Apple Silicon Macs can bring to the market.