Apple reveals MacBooks powered by own processor in latest event

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
  • Follow author on
Apple M1 Chip Image
Apple's own processor will technologically tie its computers and iPhones closer together

US-based premium technology company Apple has finally revealed the “One More Thing” that was promised for 2020 and it is the much awaited Mac computers powered by the company’s own processor that stole the show, proving that the speculations were true.

In its third event of the year, iPhone makers launched a MacBook Air notebook and other machines, with its first in-house central processor built for Macs, a move that will technologically tie its computers and iPhones closer together.

The new chip, named the M1, marks a move away from the Intel Corp technology that has powered Mac computers’ electronic brains for almost 15 years.

For Apple computers, which are overshadowed by the iPhone of the company but still rack up sales of tens of billions of dollars each year, this is a boon. Apple hopes that developers will now create app families that function on both their computers and phones.

The MacBook Air would start at $999 which is the same as its predecessor and have up to twice the battery life, Apple said. The M1 is also going to power the $1299 worth MacBook Pro notebook, and its $699 Mac Mini computer, which comes without a monitor.

Executives said that the new products will be available from next week, executives said. Apple’s shares were up by around 0.2% when the event ended.

Experts estimate that Apple will save between $150 and $200 per chip in costs by using its own central processors. “We didn’t see Apple add any expensive features,” they said. “They’re going with a much higher margin.”

Apple said in June that it will start outfitting Macs with its own processors, building on its decade-long history of processor design for its iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches.

During the event, Apple executives said the M1 was intended to be powerful as well as fast, to boost battery life, and that the processor was tuned to Apple’s newest version of operating system.

“This announcement underscores how important high-performance, custom processor designs will be to leading the next generation of client computing,” said Jon Carvill, vice president of Nuvia, a data center chip firm founded by former Apple executives. “We think a similar trend is playing out in the future of the data center as well.”

Numerous performance claims were made by Apple executives compared to previous generations of Macs and Windows-based laptops, nearly all of which are based on Intel chips, although Apple did not name Intel specifically.

“We believe Intel-powered PCs, like those based on 11th Gen Intel Core mobile processors, provide global customers the best experience in the areas they value most, as well as the most open platform for developers, both today and into the future,” Intel said in a statement.

Apple’s phone chips are based on UK-based Arm Ltd computing architecture technology manufactured by external partners such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp.

With major manufacturers such as Lenovo Group Ltd, Asustek Computer and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd offering machines, Microsoft Corp and Qualcomm Corp have been working together for four years to bring Arm-based Windows laptops to market.

For both Microsoft and Apple, however, software developers would be the real test. Apple hopes the latest Macs will be adopted by the huge community of iPhone developers, which will share the iPhone with a common 64-bit Arm computing architecture and be able to use similar apps.

Craig Federighi, head of Apple software, said that Adobe Inc will introduce its Photoshop software to the new M1-based Macs early next year.

“The app ecosystem and the battery life are probably the two things people will gravitate to,” predict experts.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple has seen a surge in Mac sales, notching record fiscal fourth quarter Mac sales of $9 billion earlier this month, all of them Intel-based. Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cook had said in June this year that the company will continue to support those devices for “years to come” but did not indicate an end-of-life date.