It makes sense that Apple would begin making its own Mac processors by 2020

Apple will replace Intel chips in Macs with its own custom-made chips in 2020, Bloomberg NewsIan King and Mark Gurman report, quoting unnamed “people familiar with the matter.” 

The project is code-named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices -- including Macs, iPhones, and iPads -- work more similarly and seamlessly together, the article adds. The project, which executives have approved, will likely result in a multi-step transition, per Bloomberg.

Chances the rumor is true, according to the Sellers Research Group: 100% (though I’m not sure about the timeline). I’ve said before that company’s hardware devices will be powered by ARM-based processors in the not-too-distant future.

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As the late Steve Jobs once said, Apple products work so well because the company makes “the whole widget.” There’s no reason to think that Apple isn’t interested in making its own processors. By designing its own chips, Apple can build hardware and software that work together better than any off-the-shelf processor. When it introduced its A7 chip for the iPhone, Apple described it as “forward thinking” and having a “desktop-class architecture.” And the A series is now up to A11 with a 64-bit architecture.

Apple certainly has the money to make its own chips. Admittedly, such a task would be a huge one, even for Apple. However, the groundwork has been laid.

In 2008 Apple bought P.A. Semi, a chip designer that made “energy-efficient processors based on the PowerPC architecture that Apple used in Macs for years before adopting Intel’s x86 chips.” In December 2008 the company picked up a 3.6 percent stake in Imagination Technologies,  a graphics chip maker.  In 2010, Apple scooped up Intrinsity, which specializes in ARM processors. This August Apple acquired Passif Semiconductor, which manufactures switch-based wireless transceivers with low power consumption and a small footprint.

It’s not hard to imagine all Mac laptops, iMacs, and Mac minis (assuming it survives) using the descendants of Apple’s A9X system-on-chip (SoC) solutions within two years — with the Mac Pro taking longer to make the switch.

Plus, Plus, Seeking Alpha thinks Apple will design its own Mac chips for three reasons:

  • Apple is capable of scaling their custom ARM core design to replace the Intel chips which power their Macs, thus unifying all their products under a single Instruction Set Architecture.
  • Apple could add custom hardware and accelerators to Mac chips and exploit them very well within the operating system and software applications to improve product differentiation and market share.
  • Apple’s profit margins would increase significantly if it were to use its own designed chips rather than Intel designed chips.