Apple’s smallest laptop, the previously retired 12-inch MacBook, could make a comeback as an ARM-powered machine as the company moves away from Intel CPUs in favor of its proprietary chips.
According to supply-chain sources from China, the new version of the 12-inch MacBook will launch by the end of the year.
These claims correlate with Apple’s previous statements regarding the first Apple Silicone Mac shipping out by the end of the year, though the company purposefully left out which model this will be.
Apple finally announced its plans to switch from Intel-made CPUs to its own ARM-based chips during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June this year.
In accordance with the company’s plans, all new Macs will make the transition to ARM-based chips within two years, including the upcoming MacBook Air, with the very first ARM-based Mac model shipping out this year.
Ming-Chi Kuo, a prominent Apple analyst, predicted that a 13-inch MacBook Pro and 24-inch iMac would be the first ARM-based models to launch, but the aforementioned chain-supply report claims otherwise.
The fact that the company managed to finalize the very first chip it designed, the A14X processor, brings Apple one step closer to achieving the goal of arming its devices with proprietary CPUs.
The A14X will begin mass production by the end of the year, using a 5nm process from TSMC – Apple’s sole supplier of A-series chips.
This newly-developed CPU, codenamed Tonga, supposedly offers better performance gains and power savings compared to Intel equivalents, allowing Apple to focus more on the power efficiency of MacBook products.
According to Apple’s supply chain industry, the very first Apple Silicon Mac equipped with the A14X CPU will be a new version of the retired 12-inch MacBook, arriving by the year’s end.
Various reports suggest that the new Mac might also feature a USB Type-C interface, the improved Butterfly keyboard, previously unseen computing power without compromising a small form factor, and relatively low weight of less than 2lbs.
Other, more dramatic claims state that ARM-based CPUs’ combined power efficiency and low power consumption could significantly improve the new Mac’s battery life to 15, or maybe even 20 hours.
Interestingly enough, the purported 12-inch Mac is said to feature a Retina display, which is odd, to say the least, given Apple’s recent shift towards mini-LED and OLED displays for Mac devices.
The original was discontinued in 2019 due to its lack of ports, keyboard issues, and an exceptionally high price tag of $1,299 for a 12-inch laptop.
With the introduction of the upgraded MacBook Air in 2018, which featured a better keyboard and a lower price tag, customers had no reason to invest in a 12-inch MacBook.
However, with added connectivity options, better processing power, a more efficient battery, and a reasonable price, a 12-inch MacBook might be the next big thing, especially for highly mobile customers.
Apple’s decision to abandon Intel’s hardware prompted Intel to launch a Mac vs. PC ad campaign. Still, it’s hardly a first such decision – the company already canceled support for AMD graphics in the macOS ARM 64-bit operating systems, strongly indicating the development of Apple’s proprietary GPU chips.
If that ends up being the case, all future Apple Silicon’s Macs may use a proprietary GPU designed and developed by Apple.
Pairing A14 CPUs with internally developed GPUs could improve overall computing performance per watt of electrical power, allowing software and gaming developers to create more powerful applications.
So, gaming on Macs might not be so far-fetched after all. However, some other features do seem far-fetched, like the 12-inch Mac with a 15-20-hour battery life, which, while not in the domain of science fiction, would make a 12-inch MacBook a must-have for anyone looking for a mix of performance and portability.