Apple details an impressive, aggressive transition to Macs with its own processors

The rumors are true—Apple is beginning its next major Mac transformation, kicking Intel processors to the curb in favor of its own silicon. At the WWDC virtual conference on June 22, Apple announced the start of its two-year transition to produce all new Macs with its own Apple silicon rather than CPUs provided by Intel and GPUs provided by AMD.

What does that mean for you? Here’s a look at the timeline and technologies Apple announced.

Why Apple is doing this

Apple began its announcement by trumpeting its prowess in making its own silicon, including ten years of iPhone chips (with a total 100-fold increase in CPU power) and specialized versions for the iPad Pro (with a 1,000-fold increase in graphics power). Apple even went smaller, customizing its processors for the unique demands of the Apple Watch.

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Apple’s been in the silicon game for a decade, and has produced some of the most impressive mobile silicon in the world.

All told, Apple has shipped over 2 billion of its own processors over the years. With the Mac, the intention is to bring its industry-leading performance per watt to the Mac. The goal is to produce faster, more powerful Macs that use less power.

But it’s not all about performance-per-watt. Apple has built lots of specialized functional units in its processors, from powerful image and video processing engines to the Neural Engine to run machine-learning and AI code. Apple intends for the Mac to make full use of this specialized hardware, developing products, software, and silicon together in harmony as it does with the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

This will enable Apple to build Macs with capabilities and form factors it simply can’t today.

Apple did not announce its first Mac processors, though. The development kits will use the A12Z processor found in the Mac Pro, but the first consumer products will likely use something else.

Native apps will lead the way

The first Macs to ship with Apple’s own silicon will run the just-announced macOS Big Sur, which we noticed carries the OS version 11.0 rather than 10.16 on Apple’s development system.

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