The first Apple Mac running an Apple-designed processor based on Arm technology, instead of one from Intel, will appear by the end of the year, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in an online-only WWDC on Monday.
“It is truly a historic day for Mac,” Cook said, adding that there will be a two-year transition to Apple chips in its Mac line. The transition had been rumored for more than year. “We’ve never been more confident about the future of the Mac than today.”
However, Cook also said Intel-based Macs are still in the pipeline, but didn’t offer details. A press release from Apple posted online after Cook's remarks said, "Apple will continue to support and release new versions of macOS for Intel-based Macs for years to come and has exciting new Intel-based Macs in development."
Apple team members said the new processor will be an A12 Z system-on-chip used in the iPad Pro will run on the new macOS Big Sur version 11 desktop operating system also unveiled Monday.
Senior Vice President of Hardware Technology Johny Srouji said Apple has produced 2 billion processors for its iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches over the past decade with improvements in CPU performance in the A13 chip and the A5X for the iPad, and with the Watch processor optimized for low power. “We’re now bringing all this expertise to focus on the Mac,” Srouji said.
Apple apps, even those on the iPhone with iOS and iPad, will run natively on the new Macs, bringing to fruition a long time goal by Apple to unify its computing platforms. Third party apps like Office apps from Microsoft and Adobe apps will also be supported.
“The Mac will take a huge step forward, “ said Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of software engineering.
Developers will be able to use XCode to recompile apps to the new format, with their apps “up and running in just days,” he said, demonstrating how Excel and PowerPoint will look on the new Macs.
Apple also announced a Rosetta 2 version for auto translation of existing apps to work on the Apple silicon as well virtualization software. “Most apps will run with no changes from the developer,” Federighi said. When Apple switched from PowerPC to Intel in 2006, it used a first generation of Rosetta.
To equip developers prior to the first Mac release, Apple said it will provide a developer kit with a Mac Mini running an A12Z SoC. Developers can apply for the Univeral App Quick Start program kit online. XCode 12 builds Universal apps to support Apple Silicon.
Analysts believe Intel’s financial loss from the transition will be about 5% of Intel revenues.