Kuo Hath Said the ARM is Nigh

Illustration for article entitled Kuo Hath Said the ARM is Nigh

Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

As for Apple’s rumors, the one saying ARM-powered Macs are coming is not particularly new. That said, when analyst Ming-Chi Kuo joins in, rumors begin to reshape, given his track record of accurately evoking trends. Kuo now says that Apple plans to launch several laptops and desktops with custom ARM chips by 2021 MacRumors.

As for the timing, Kuo said earlier this month that these ARM-powered laptops could come as early as the fourth quarter this year. At the time, however, the details were relatively light. Now Kuo says we’ll see them early in 2021, and on desktops to boot. He also said that ARM-based chips can give Apple’s Mac lineup a competitive boost, as it reduces the company’s reliance on Intel’s timeline for upgrading its processors, while also reducing processor costs 40-60 percent. Kuo also believes the move could lead to more “hardware differentiation” between Macs and PCs.

Accurate because ARM processors use a completely different instruction set than the x86 processors found in Apple’s current range of desktops and laptops. The company has been working to improve support between the two instruction sets with projects such as Catalyst, which allows developers to port iOS apps to macOS. So if the rumors are true, expect to see more Catalyst and porting buzz it online WWDC later this year.

Another interesting fact is that Kuo says ASMedia Technology, a Taiwanese company, will become Apple’s exclusive supplier of USB controllers for the ARM-based Macs. That, and Kuo expects USB4 support to come a little later in 2022.

What is USB4? It is the upcoming USB standard and most importantly it promises a maximum throughput of 40 Gbps. It also converts Thunderbolt 3 to USB4, so you can support multiple devices over one cable.

While you should take the tech rumor mill with a grain of salt, Kuo missives are generally a sign that a particular rumor has some pretty solid roots. He, for example recently noticed that Apple planned to launch a new MacBook Air model in Q2 of 2020 and that scissor switches would make a comeback. And see, last week, a new MacBook Air arrived with a scissor switch keyboard.

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