ARM iMac, 13-inch MacBook Pro coming at end of 2020, says Ming-Chi Kuo

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in Future Apple Hardware edited June 2020
Apple's ARM-based Mac will most likely be announced at WWDC, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, with the first models in the line using ARM processors expected to consist of a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro and an iMac with an "all-new form factor."




Rumors of an ARM Mac launch have circulated for a while, with Monday's WWDC keynote believed to be the prime event for Apple to introduce its plan to developers. According to TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, Apple could do so by introducing two models.

The first Macs using an Apple-designed 5-nanometer processor will be a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro and a redesigned iMac, Kuo proposes, with both models anticipated to outperform their Intel equivalents by between 50% and 100%.

For the ARM MacBook Pro, Kuo reckons it will be similar in design to the current 13-inch MacBook Pro, albeit running on Apple's self-designed chip instead of an Intel processor. After the launch of the new model, Kuo suggests Apple may move to discontinue production of the Intel-based version at around the same time.

The ARM-based 24-inch iMac will use an "all-new form factor design," though Kuo doesn't suggest what this entails, but it will ship with a 24-inch display. Unlike the MacBook Pro, Kuo believes that Apple will refresh the existing Intel iMac in the third quarter, before launching the ARM equivalent.

The push for ARM chips will continue into other models, with the analyst suggesting all-new Mac models will be equipped with the chips from 2021. "We estimate that all Mac models will switch to ARM in 12-18 months," said Kuo, adding an "all-new form-factor design MacBook" model will head into mass production in the second half of 2021.

Kuo has previously mused on the arrival of an ARM-based Mac, suggesting in February that the first models will appear in the first half of 2021. One month later his expectations changed, with the announcement of an ARM Mac in late 2020 for sale early in 2021, and that it was likely to be a MacBook Pro variant.

The analyst has also suggested in earlier notes that the switch to in-house designs from Intel chips will reduce processor costs by between 40% and 60%, which could lead to a more flexible cost structure and more competitive product prices. Apple would also not be beholden to Intel's own schedules, which has involved delayed development, manufacturing, and shipment of processors later than it intended.

In terms of components, key items including the Apple-designed processor, the use of mini LED displays, and the move to a scissor-switch keyboard will "create competitive advantages for MacBook models in two years." The processor and mini LED display will "improve the user experience significantly," Kuo says, with a mini LED-equipped MacBook tipped to launch in the first half of 2021 at the earliest.

Mini LED has been a topic of conversation for Kuo before, including a note from May telling investors mini LED suppliers including Epistar and FitTech are gearing up for mass production in the third quarter of 2020, putting a product launch using the technology for its display into 2021. Kuo previously suggested Apple would launch six products in 2020 using mini LED, including updates in the iPad, iMac Pro, and MacBook Pro lines.

For general MacBook sales, Kuo is positive on its outlook in the short and long terms, with demand increasing by 30% in the third quarter of 2020 due to the demand of working from home, prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. With the adoption of a new processor and mini LED displays, shipments and market share of MacBooks will "significantly grow" in the tie to come.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 64
    "We estimate that all Mac models will switch to ARM in 12-18 months," said Kuo.
    ALL models? What, even the Mac Pro? That doesn't make sense to me. If I'd just spent perhaps in the teens of thousands on a 'future-proof' Mac Pro, I don't think I'd feel too happy if Apple then switched processor families across the line less than a year later.

    Mind you, it's only how I'd have felt if I'd been a professional photographer who'd believed Apple's hype about the previous trashcan Mac Pro, and bought one in order to run Aperture on it… (Apple made a big fuss about this use case, and had at least one enticing video about it… and them promptly killed Aperture.)
    edited June 2020 caladanianentropys
  • Reply 2 of 64
    XedXed Posts: 2,657member
    "We estimate that all Mac models will switch to ARM in 12-18 months," said Kuo.
    ALL models? What, even the Mac Pro? That doesn't make sense to me. If I'd just spent perhaps in the teens of thousands on a 'future-proof' Mac Pro, I don't think I'd feel too happy if Apple then switched processor families across the line less than a year later.

    Mind you, it's only how I'd have felt if I'd been a professional photographer who'd believed Apple's hype about the previous trashcan Mac Pro, and bought one in order to run Aperture on it… (Apple made a big fuss about this use case, and had at least one enticing video about it… and them promptly killed Aperture.)
    By the time Apple moves the Mac Pro I think most will be saying "it's about time." Remember the Mac Pro doesn't get updated that often, so any Mac Pro user shouldn't be expecting annual updates.
    edited June 2020 F_Kent_Dpulseimagesdoozydozenfastasleep
  • Reply 3 of 64
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,725member
    "We estimate that all Mac models will switch to ARM in 12-18 months," said Kuo.
    ALL models? What, even the Mac Pro? That doesn't make sense to me. If I'd just spent perhaps in the teens of thousands on a 'future-proof' Mac Pro, I don't think I'd feel too happy if Apple then switched processor families across the line less than a year later.

    Mind you, it's only how I'd have felt if I'd been a professional photographer who'd believed Apple's hype about the previous trashcan Mac Pro, and bought one in order to run Aperture on it… (Apple made a big fuss about this use case, and had at least one enticing video about it… and them promptly killed Aperture.)

    aderutterpatchythepiraterundhvidseanj
  • Reply 4 of 64
    kpomkpom Posts: 660member
    Interesting if it is the MacBook Pro. They just be really confident in its performance. 
    seanj
  • Reply 5 of 64
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,780member
    "We estimate that all Mac models will switch to ARM in 12-18 months," said Kuo.
    ALL models? What, even the Mac Pro? That doesn't make sense to me. If I'd just spent perhaps in the teens of thousands on a 'future-proof' Mac Pro, I don't think I'd feel too happy if Apple then switched processor families across the line less than a year later.

    Mind you, it's only how I'd have felt if I'd been a professional photographer who'd believed Apple's hype about the previous trashcan Mac Pro, and bought one in order to run Aperture on it… (Apple made a big fuss about this use case, and had at least one enticing video about it… and them promptly killed Aperture.)

    If half the software is emulated it'll make little difference how fast the CPU is. Each time there's one of these transitions there's a huge library of software that gets left behind unfortunately.
    caladanian
  • Reply 6 of 64
    XedXed Posts: 2,657member
    elijahg said:
    "We estimate that all Mac models will switch to ARM in 12-18 months," said Kuo.
    ALL models? What, even the Mac Pro? That doesn't make sense to me. If I'd just spent perhaps in the teens of thousands on a 'future-proof' Mac Pro, I don't think I'd feel too happy if Apple then switched processor families across the line less than a year later.

    Mind you, it's only how I'd have felt if I'd been a professional photographer who'd believed Apple's hype about the previous trashcan Mac Pro, and bought one in order to run Aperture on it… (Apple made a big fuss about this use case, and had at least one enticing video about it… and them promptly killed Aperture.)

    If half the software is emulated it'll make little difference how fast the CPU is. Each time there's one of these transitions there's a huge library of software that gets left behind unfortunately.
    Apple has prepared for this for a long time—much longer than I would've preferred. Just like with the more recent moves from 32-bit to 64-bit or even the HIG for the iPhone aspect ratio and pixel density, if a developer isn't updating their code it's probably a good time to find better software.

    Unlike with the transition from PPC to Intel, we probably won't have the same issues from MS and Adobe since they've been building wonderful apps for iOS and iPadOS for a  very long time. However, if they are lagging behind again due to taking shortcuts with their bloated codebase that makes it hard to transition then you either stick with your Intel Macs or switch apps. By the time you absolutely have to buy an ARM Mac these vendors will not be an issue.
    doozydozenrazmatazrundhvidseanjfastasleep
  • Reply 7 of 64
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,365member
    Now people are saying no new iMac hardware at WWDC: 
    https://www.macrumors.com/2020/06/21/leaks-suggest-no-hardware-at-wwdc/

    Bummer if true, but I was wondering how Apple would cram hot 14nm Intel CPUs into a sleek new iMac form factor. They might need their new ARM chips before they can change the form factor. 

    While the rumor about a redesigned iMac at WWDC might turn out to be wrong, I hope that we at least get some spec bumps on the existing form factor. Bumping the GPU up to Navi, dumping fusion drives, and cutting the price and raising capacity of SSDs would be a nice boost. No need to go to Comet Lake since it's really not much of an upgrade. 
    narwhal
  • Reply 8 of 64
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,365member

    "We estimate that all Mac models will switch to ARM in 12-18 months," said Kuo.
    ALL models? What, even the Mac Pro? That doesn't make sense to me. If I'd just spent perhaps in the teens of thousands on a 'future-proof' Mac Pro, I don't think I'd feel too happy if Apple then switched processor families across the line less than a year later.

    Mind you, it's only how I'd have felt if I'd been a professional photographer who'd believed Apple's hype about the previous trashcan Mac Pro, and bought one in order to run Aperture on it… (Apple made a big fuss about this use case, and had at least one enticing video about it… and them promptly killed Aperture.)
    Believe it or not, Apple used to update the Mac Pro every year, and every time they did that the ones they sold the year before kept working. 


    narwhalelijahg
  • Reply 9 of 64
    boboliciousbobolicious Posts: 1,151member
    "Apple would also not be beholden to Intel" - is this ironic in that Apple now seems to make (almost) every move to increase customer dependence on a proprietary Apple ?

    "the switch to in-house designs from Intel chips will reduce processor costs by between 40% and 60%" - what of will this be passed on, and / or what pain (is time money?) will it cause, and has Apple like so many visionary rise (and fall) corporations moved from truly trying to serve customers to increasingly simply monetizing them ? 

    Is Olympus (cameras) worth noting as a company that had renowned innovation in photography, an ecosystem approach and a lead designer (Yoshihisa Maitani) who lead the company (eg. OM-1) for ~40 years...

    edited June 2020 elijahg
  • Reply 10 of 64
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,674member
    Welp, I will not buy the last intel iMac or the first ARM-Mac.  They just saved me some money and gave me more time to save for that 30” Arm-Mac in last 2021/early 2022.

    I’ll wait.   
  • Reply 11 of 64
    narwhalnarwhal Posts: 122member
    blastdoor said:
    Believe it or not, Apple used to update the Mac Pro every year, and every time they did that the ones they sold the year before kept working. 
    Yep, Blastdoor's right. From 2006 to 2012, there was a Mac Pro revision every year except 2011. Even the much-delayed trash can Mac Pro was released just 18 months after the previous model's final revision. The only big gap was the 6 years between the release of the trash can Mac Pro and the current model from last December.
    elijahg
  • Reply 12 of 64
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,374moderator
    kpom said:
    Interesting if it is the MacBook Pro. They just be really confident in its performance. 
    The pace that chip companies like TSMC are progressing at must have made Apple question sticking with Intel. They all know the end of the road for silicon isn't far off (within 10 years) and it seems like Intel has been trying to slow the pace of development to ensure as long a future as possible. It's easy when there's no viable competition. This is also fine for every company involved if everyone does the same thing but as soon as one company changes tack, they all risk being left behind.

    Demand for mobile chips increased competition. These chips started behind desktops (a couple of years behind), the original iPhone used 90nm chips when Intel was on 45nm. As desktop demand fell, Intel moved to a 3 stage cycle:

    https://www.anandtech.com/show/10183/intels-tick-tock-seemingly-dead-becomes-process-architecture-optimization

    This gave AMD an opportunity to overtake them by moving more quickly to 7nm. Mobile chips are moving to 5nm this year and 3nm in 2 years:

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/06/09/tsmc-on-schedule-for-3nm-apple-a16-iphone-and-ipad-chip-in-2022

    A switch to ARM isn't a trivial choice, it's a long-term plan and takes into consideration where things will be in 10 years.

    Intel's roadmap is here:

    https://wccftech.com/intel-2021-2029-process-roadmap-10nm-7nm-5nm-3nm-2nm-1nm-back-porting/
    https://www.anandtech.com/show/15217/intels-manufacturing-roadmap-from-2019-to-2029



    Intel still plans to be on 7nm until 2023. Not all processes are the same but still, Intel is behind. Windows ARM devices would be years ahead of Apple if they don't switch. They will go 7nm, 5nm, 3nm, 2nm, 1.4nm.

    If we assume 50% increase per stage, the 1.4nm chips will be 5x faster than current 7nm chips.

    The recent custom 7nm 5600M AMD GPU has shown how much better they can make the hardware with these kind of architecture and process improvements. Imagine if they made a 5nm laptop GPU running at 8 TFLOPs while Intel is still playing around at 1TFLOP for their IGPs.

    The majority of software in use today is actively developed so won't be affected moving to ARM. x64 emulation on ARM for Windows definitely seems to be in the works:

    https://mspoweruser.com/microsoft-close-to-emulating-x64-code-emulation-on-arm/
    https://github.com/microsoft/cppwinrt/pull/556/commits

    That would still be a backup plan for software that wasn't compiled natively. Most professional software will be.

    Apple must have some kind of x86/x64 emulation on the Mac side because most of their pro users are developers. They will still need to target x86 for years and will need to test those apps work before deployment.
    Rayz2016patchythepiraterundhvidmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 64
    anomeanome Posts: 1,533member
    Interesting to go with the 13.3" MBP when they just updated it to the 10th Gen Intel chips. Will they update the others to 10th Gen, before going to ARM? In some ways, it doesn't seem worth the effort to update anything if the ARM timeline is that advanced.
  • Reply 14 of 64
    Would it be possible to make the current Mac Pro a dual processor architecture solution via a plug-in card? So to have a hardware acceleration instead of software emulation? It would be surprising if Apple didn’t think of a viable solution in order to not piss the pros (yet again), giving the short timeframe between releasing the new Pro and announcing the major architecture shift, which must have been in planning for a very long time. Yes, I know, Apple this and Apple that in not losing much sleep over radical transitions, but given the cost of the new Pro systems, this would be a huge slap in the face, even by their standards.
    elijahgrichard hallas
  • Reply 15 of 64
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,212member
    What does it all mean for the chances of a decent file system? 
  • Reply 16 of 64
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 626member
    entropys said:
    What does it all mean for the chances of a decent file system? 
    What is wrong with APFS? Not great for spinning rust but it seems very good for SSDs. Any particular complaint?
    Rayz2016chiadewmefastasleep
  • Reply 17 of 64
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 626member

    Would it be possible to make the current Mac Pro a dual processor architecture solution via a plug-in card? So to have a hardware acceleration instead of software emulation? It would be surprising if Apple didn’t think of a viable solution in order to not piss the pros (yet again), giving the short timeframe between releasing the new Pro and announcing the major architecture shift, which must have been in planning for a very long time. Yes, I know, Apple this and Apple that in not losing much sleep over radical transitions, but given the cost of the new Pro systems, this would be a huge slap in the face, even by their standards.
    I suspect Apple has a two prong approach planned for the Mac Pro. First is a simple Intel Xeon CPU upgrade in the future as appropriate. The CPU is socketed in the current Mac Pro and the motherboard could easily be replaced. I don’t know the implications for things like PCIE 4.0 and above though.

    But Apple must want to showcase their CPU design chops and what better place than the top of the line Mac Pro. If they can produce a 64 core Mac Pro that doubles the performance of the current 28 core Xeon, why wouldn’t they want to do that? We already know that there are companies producing 64 core ARM and above CPUs so it is certainly possible for Apple to do the same. For marketing reasons alone, making a new Mac Pro that destroys the current Intel Xeons would be a major win for Apple.
  • Reply 18 of 64
    Remember the Keynotes where Steve and Phil would do on-stage benchmarks using various Mac's and their rivals?  I'd love to see a return to this showing how the new Apple chips compete against the Intel computers using the most common benchmark software out there that all of the YouTube tech channels use anyway.  If it can be clearly demonstrated that pro software performs significantly better on the Apple chip, it may assuage their resistance to change.  I remember my hesitation to embrace the PowerPC G3 (300 MHz Tangerine iBook), but I dove in and never regretted the purchase.  As it stands now, I'd love to see those old fun computer designs return.  Everything they make these days fits right in with Sci-Fi movies, which is great for people who like that sort of thing.  I know I'm old when I get nostalgic about those fun old designs. 

    I'll likely purchase the new Apple chip laptop when it comes out just like I did with the G3 iBook, the first iPod, and the first iPhone.  I just hope Apple makes them look different than their current offerings.  Everything looks so damn sterile these days.  
  • Reply 19 of 64
    jdb8167 said:

    Would it be possible to make the current Mac Pro a dual processor architecture solution via a plug-in card? So to have a hardware acceleration instead of software emulation? It would be surprising if Apple didn’t think of a viable solution in order to not piss the pros (yet again), giving the short timeframe between releasing the new Pro and announcing the major architecture shift, which must have been in planning for a very long time. Yes, I know, Apple this and Apple that in not losing much sleep over radical transitions, but given the cost of the new Pro systems, this would be a huge slap in the face, even by their standards.
    I suspect Apple has a two prong approach planned for the Mac Pro. First is a simple Intel Xeon CPU upgrade in the future as appropriate. The CPU is socketed in the current Mac Pro and the motherboard could easily be replaced. I don’t know the implications for things like PCIE 4.0 and above though.

    But Apple must want to showcase their CPU design chops and what better place than the top of the line Mac Pro. If they can produce a 64 core Mac Pro that doubles the performance of the current 28 core Xeon, why wouldn’t they want to do that? We already know that there are companies producing 64 core ARM and above CPUs so it is certainly possible for Apple to do the same. For marketing reasons alone, making a new Mac Pro that destroys the current Intel Xeons would be a major win for Apple.
    Making a CPU with 64 cores on it is one thing, but doing that while also providing enough memory bandwidth to be effective is another, without going to NUMA designs, where NUMA means Non Unified Memory Architecture: a number of CPU cores are grouped (theoretically down to 1) for each having shared access to main memory for those cores, and very limited sharing of memory between other groups of cores, because memory bandwidth can’t satisfy all the desired cores: they’re kept waiting on main memory most of the time, and have horrible cache coherency latency issues beyond a certain point.

    Applications need to be architected in different ways than most are before NUMA is not a performance loss, or any given application can only use so many cores and be effective, while other applications use the other cores, with a minimal amount of sharing between them.

    Most probable for heavy CPU threading scenarios is they’ll benefit with fewer faster cores far more; Amdahl’s Law defines the limits as to how linearly you can scale performance by adding more threads to a problem due to communication and synchronization overhead, and RAM throughout limitations combined with CPU cache coherency quickly make most processing tasks far less efficient: it’s even entirely possible and common that the more threads and cores you throw at a task, the slower it gets, to where you lose total throughout with a given larger number of cores than if you just used fewer cores of the same speed.

    Consider in a more limited basis in smartphones: how much value was it for octocore Android devices? Not much! 

    elijahgpatchythepiratetmaydewme
  • Reply 20 of 64
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,261member
    "Apple would also not be beholden to Intel" - is this ironic in that Apple now seems to make (almost) every move to increase customer dependence on a proprietary Apple ?

    You do realize Apple is using ARM processor architecture with their own additional components. Apple isn't designing or building an entirely different CPU, it's still using the current ARM architecture so they are still at least partially beholden on ARM. The problem with Intel is they are slow as a snail in developing better and faster CPUs. ARM has been the faster developer of new CPUs not Intel so why should Apple continue to be slowed down by Intel? 

    Apple is not a proprietary computer manufacturer. They have a few Apple-designed components but the vast majority of components are common. Read through an iFixit or other vendors teardown and you'll see all kinds of components without Apple's name on them. Even the bulk of macOS has been open-sourced, https://opensource.apple.com. ;
    XedRayz2016
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