Apple is reportedly working on three new Mac devices with company’s own custom coprocessor similar to the T1 chip introduced with the launch of 2016 MacBook Pro, and T2 chip found on the iMac Pro. It is not clear which Mac device series will get the new custom Apple silicon.
According to Bloomberg, Apple is working on at least three new models with custom-designed silicon under the hood including two laptops and a desktop. One of the likely candidates is the modular Mac Pro slated to launch later this year since the iMac Pro already includes T2 chipset. Apple has confirmed that it is working on a new Mac Pro aimed at professional customers, but has not revealed whether it will be launched this year.
As far as laptops are concerned, Apple is not expected to bring any major changes to MacBook Pro lineup, but there are reports that the company could refresh the retina MacBook, and introduce a refreshed MacBook Air. The T1 chip found in the MacBook Pro supports the functionality of Touch Bar and Touch ID components including the Secure Enclave. The T2 chip on the iMac Pro secures the core OS with secure boot, and acts as the disk controller for the solid state drive. It also acts as the image signal processor for the FaceTime camera among other functions.
Apple announced its first custom-chip with the launch of iPad in 2010 and the chipset made its way to iPhone 4 and iPod as well. Since the launch of A4 custom chip on iPhone and iPad, Apple has significantly improved the performance of its custom silicon, and has also hired leading silicon designers like Raja Koduri (now with Intel) to help with chip design and development.
Bloomberg says Apple is also working on a new iPad that will be launching towards the end of the year. There is a possibility that the tablet might skip the A11 chip and jump directly to A12X chipset. The iPad Pro launched in 2017 featured A10X chipset, and it is likely to feature a chipset more powerful than the one powering the latest iPhone.
Apple’s ambition to design custom silicon is a well-scripted story, and the company has been poaching leading talent from the likes of Qualcomm and Imagination Technologies in the recent months. Apple has already developed its custom graphics processor alongside custom A-series chipset that power iPhone, iPad, iPod and Apple Watch. It is also believed to be working on a cellular modem in order to end its dependency on Qualcomm for LTE modem.
The new A11 Bionic chip has been proven to be more powerful than some Intel processors in single-thread performance. There are even reports that Apple is planning to get rid of Intel processors on both Mac laptops and desktop sometime soon. It is not clear what Apple has in store but considering its huge cash reserve, the company has all the resources needed to develop its own products and end dependency on a supplier.