Apple is said to be developing a brand new in-house processor that will take on more of the functionality currently handled by Intel’s chips within Macbook laptops.
Development of the ARM-based chip reportedly began last year, and it is said it will work alongside an Intel chip to help improve the battery life of Macbooks.
It comes after influential US magazine Consumer Reports failed to recommend the new MacBook Pro due to significant variations in battery life of the Macbooks it was reviewing. Apple later claimed to have fixed the problem.
It should be noted that Apple’s development of its own chip is not a new phenomenon. Apple already uses its own chip (called the T1) in the Touch Bar equipped Macbook Pro that launched last October.
That Apple designed processor is used to power the touchscreen bar and some of the security around it.
But now Apple, according to Bloomberg which quoted people familiar with the matter as its source, is designing a new chip for future Mac laptops that would take on more of the functionality currently handled by Intel processors.
The chip has been assigned the internal codename of T310, and will apparently handle some of the computer’s low-power mode functionality.
What is known is that the new chip will be based on technology from UK chip designer ARM Holdings, and the new chip may appear in the upgraded version of the MacBook Pro laptop planned for later this year.
According to the reports, Apple’s engineering boffins are seeking to offload the Mac’s low-power mode (a feature marketed as “Power Nap”) to the next-generation ARM-based chip. This function allows Mac laptops to retrieve emails, install software updates, and synchronize calendar appointments with the display shut and not in use.
The feature currently uses an Intel chip that already consumes little battery life, but the move to ARM would conserve even more power, Bloomberg reported.
It is thought the new Apple chip would expand beyond the Touch Bar to other areas of the Macbook device, including storage and wireless components, in order to take on the additional responsibilities.
Apple and Intel have reportedly declined to comment on the matter.
Apple already uses its own A-Series processors inside iPhones and iPads since 2010, and the news that it is seeking to lessen its reliance on Intel chips for its Macbook range may be considered bad news for the chip giant.
But it should be remembered that Macbooks make up a small percentage of the worldwide laptop market, yet the move does demonstrate the challenges Intel is facing from ARM-based processors.
For its part, Apple thinks that by designing its own chips, it can more tightly integrate its hardware and software functions. It also allows it more of a say in the cost of components for its devices.
The Bloomberg sources did however state that Apple has no near-term plans to completely abandon Intel chips for use in its laptops and desktops.
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