Apple launched its first Mac computers with its own M1 chip. The previous models with “Apple Silicon” processors are so far only Apple’s entry-level segment. Things really get going this year – we can count on these Macs and Macbooks.
With the Mac Mini, the Macbook Pro (test) and the Macbook Air, Apple began its two-year transition away from Intel to its own ARM processors on November 10th. While the M1 chips already deliver excellent values in terms of performance and runtime, they are not enough to power the more powerful Macs and Macbooks. Apple’s chip boss Johny Srouji last confirmed in December that the company was working on a chip family – the first details about the chips and models have already been leaked. These devices should exist.
Apple’s Mac portfolio consists of seven device categories: starting with the Macbook Air, through the two Macbook Pro versions with 13 and 16 inches, to the desktop computers, which are made up of the Mac Mini, iMac, iMac Pro and the Mac Pro. So far, Apple has only completely switched the Macbook Air from Intel to Apple Silicon. In all other product lines, the group still offers at least one Intel variant.
That will change quickly in 2021. Because if you believe the rumor mill and Apple insiders, Apple will launch new Macbook Pro models with a new generation of Apple silicon chips as early as the first half of the year. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who is known for his good Apple insider contacts, the next generation of chips will make Intel’s top processors look even older.
If Bloomberg’s sources are correct, Apple will increase the number of cores massively after the eight-core M1 chip, which is equipped with four high-performance cores and four energy-saving cores. The next Apple silicon chip, which could possibly be named M1X, is to receive up to 16 performance and four efficiency cores. However, the number of cores is not 100 percent set in stone. It is also possible that, depending on the development progress, only eight or twelve high-performance cores could be on board in the following expansion stage.
Gurman claims to have found out that Apple will initially equip its high-performance Macbook Pros with the new chips in the first half of the year. That information roughly overlaps with a research note from well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said in November that new Macbooks should hit the market in late second or later in the third quarter of 2021.
Kuo is also assuming a new design that should make Apple’s notebooks look more modern. The last major design update Apple gave its Macbook Pro 2016. In 2019, the 15-inch model was replaced by a Macbook Pro with a 16-inch screen while maintaining the dimensions and appearance. In which direction Apple will send its next MacBook Pro generation, Bloomberg’s informants also explain: According to them, they should optically orientate themselves on the iPad Pro and the iPhone 12 with their angular designs.
It has also been rumored for a long time that Apple could swap its 13-inch Pro model for a 14-inch version. The dimensions are likely to remain almost identical, but Apple could switch to mini LED screen technology: The technology has many advantages of OLED technology, such as energy-saving local dimming and a large color space. At the same time, there are no typical OLED disadvantages such as burn-in. In addition, mini LED displays would allow lighter and thinner components and high contrast.
In addition, Kuo and Gurman report that Apple will abolish its touchbar, which is unpopular with many users. Just a few days ago new patents a further development of the OLED function key bar emerged, which is to recognize the pressure strength in the future. Almost in the same breath, the reports speak of the return of the Magsafe adapter, with which the Macbook charging cable is only magnetically connected to the notebook. There is also talk of the return of an SD card reader.
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After Apple had left its first Apple Silicon Macbook generation in the old design, a redesigned version of the Macbook Air can be expected at the end of 2021 at the earliest, which is said to be above the last Air generation. Apple is considering making the Macbook Air more compact while retaining the 13-inch screen by shrinking the bezel around the display. As with the Pro, the Air Magsafe will also move in, and it will also have two USB 4 ports. Apple also expresses with a 15-inch variant, it is said.
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Other new Mac products coming out next year will be iMacs and possibly iMac Pros. They are expected to receive the same chips as the next generation MacBook Pro.
Apple’s iMac and the Pro model – at least the 27-inch versions – were last equipped with new Intel chips in August 2020. The all-in-one computers, appealing as they are, have not received a visual makeover for eight (!) Years. With the switch to Apple Silicon, the time has come. We assume that the all-in-one computers will have a narrower frame so that the black bars around the screen will largely disappear.
Apple could even take the 21.5-inch model out of its range and replace it with a 23- or 24-inch iMac, as Ming-Chi Kuo has been forecasting for months. There are no predictions about the 27-inch iMac, but it is quite possible that Apple will also give this model a larger screen diagonal so that it better fits the Pro XDR display with 32-inch diagonal. It is also conceivable that Apple could set aside a cheaper variant for the 5,000 euro screen.
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It is very unlikely that the iMac Pros will be equipped with the same chips as the regular iMacs. Higher performance Apple Silicon SoCs for the Pro models, including the Mac Pro, are not expected to appear before the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. The iMac Pros urgently need an update.
There are indications that Apple will initially equip its MacBook Pros and iMacs with its own processors in 2021. The slightly more powerful version of the Mac Mini, which is currently still being sold with an Intel processor, may also receive a silicon update. The iMac Pros and Mac Pro are unlikely to be updated until later, when Apple is one generation further. According to Bloomberg’s Gurman, a smaller version of the Mac Pro can be expected in 2022. The computer will then be half the size of the current “cheese grater” and should receive up to 32 high-performance cores.
To what extent Apple will design its Mac Pro with its new chips is not easy to assess, since the highly modular design of the desktop computer is based on Intel chips and compatible components. But before that happens, Apple still has a few years to find a solution. Gurman further speculatesthat Apple could possibly continue its Mac Pro with Intel processors until further notice, until its own chips are ready.
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