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Report: Apple's 5nm Arm-Based Macs Will Feature 12 Cores, Launch 2021

(Image credit: Shuttterstock)

This isn't the first time we're hearing this rumor, but Bloomberg reported today that Apple will be launching Macs with CPUs of its own design in 2021. The designs are said to be based on TSMC's 5nm process and feature up to 12 processing cores.

We've heard this rumor numerous times before, with the most recent time coming from from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo

According to Bloomberg's unnamed sources, Apple is working on three different chip designs, though details on the entire lineup are scarce. The top-of-the-line model is said to feature 12 cores, eight of which are high-performance cores, plus four energy-efficient ones. The former are codenamed Firestorm, and the latter, efficient cores are reportedly codenamed Icestorm and have an architecture similar to that of the A12X used in an earlier iPad Pro.

In January, there was also news that Apple had already reserved two-thirds of TSMC's upcoming 5nm capacity.

Apple transitioning to its own silicon designs in Macs and MacBooks would be a complicated process. Therefore, we'd expect the company to start off by introducing its chips into a few mainstream laptops, sticking with Intel for Macbook Pros.

Despite the cost and development nightmares that would be associated with such a transition, Bloomberg's report claimed Apple's move is aimed at gaining more control over how its devices perform as well as differentiation. It also pointed to Intel's slow release schedule. 

It's no secret that Intel has been having trouble making advances with its silicon designs, nd is having an especially tough time moving to the 10nm process. Consequently, it isn't really surprising that Apple might have the urge to take matters into its own hands.

  • ezst036
    So Apple is switching back to RISC in its computers, after all these years.
  • Deicidium369
    admin said:
    As Intel continues to lag with its CPU tech, Apple is reportedly taking matters into its own hands with a purported 12-core Arm chip for Macs.

    Report: Apple's 5nm Arm-Based Macs Will Feature 12 Cores, Launch 2021 : Read more
    Apple has been become more and more vertically integrated - so the move to it's own derivative of ARM is not surprising and has little to do with Intel. Buying Intel's 5G portfolio to make it's own modems, would not be surprised if they bought a display company. Apple, like Tesla wants to control as much of the supply chain as they can - and if they can bring it in house, the will.
  • bit_user
    ezst036 said:
    So Apple is switching back to RISC in its computers, after all these years.
    Eh, ARMv8-A isn't really that RISCy. I don't think that's the most salient aspect of the decision, anyway.

    If RISC-V were more mature, I wonder if Apple would be embracing it, instead. Or if POWER had become royalty-free, a few years earlier, maybe they'd even switch back to it - wouldn't that be a hoot?

    Put another way, I wonder how much they're paying for licensing the ARM ISA.