Apple’s transition to its own processors: What to expect

A new report claims that Apple will make a significant announcement at WWDC a couple weeks from now: a transition in Mac hardware away from Intel’s x86 processors and toward its own custom-designed ARM processors.

It is a move that makes a lot of sense, and one that has been rumored for some time. We’ve written about it several times here on Macworld.

If we assume that it is really happening this time, what would it mean? It what ways would it change the Mac, and when?

A possible timeline for ARM Macs

Just because Apple is apparently going to announce the transition to its own Mac processors at WWDC on June 22, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to run out and buy such a Mac right then. Actual hardware isn’t expected to ship to consumers until 2021.

Apple changed entire processor architectures in the Mac twice before: From the 68000 architecture to PowerPC, and then from PowerPC to Intel.

That last transition may provide some hints into how Apple will handle this one.

apple a14 preview hero Apple

Apple’s first Mac processors will likely be based on the A14 chip that will debut in the iPhone 12.

Apple announced the transition at WWDC in the summer of 2005. It didn’t announce any new Macs, however. Instead, it started selling a modified Power Mac G5 with an Intel processor exclusively to registered developers, so they could start getting their Mac apps ported over.

Then, early in 2006, Apple announced new Intel-based Macs: a 15-inch MacBook and an iMac.