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Apple to Move from Intel to Proprietary ARM Chips

According to tradition, Apple and Intel have always been on opposite sides of the playing field. This was primarily due to the fact that Intel provided support for Microsoft Windows, the topmost rival of Apple. However, all of this changed in 2005; when Apple not only embraced Intel processors, but they announced they would be using Intel processors in lieu of IBM chips in the future.

It's a little-known fact, but if you own a Mac that came out between 2006 and 2019, there's a good chance that it features an Intel chip. But all of this is about to change – again.

Per a recent announcement, Apple is unveiling their new, proprietary chips. Based on ARM (Advanced RISC Machine), the first models to feature Apple's ARM architecture will be shipped by the end of 2020. However, the complete transition is expected to take several years.

One of the major reasons for the project timeframe is the fact that Apple is taking a proactive stance in order to make the transition to ARM processors as seamless and as painless as possible for all of its users. To this extent, they're including a number of luxuries for Mac developers and users alike.

For starters, developers will be able to compile their software for compatibility with both Intel and ARM processors. This will come in the form of two separate executable files, referred to as the Universal 2 format, so individual users will be able to pick the exact version they need.

Older apps will be handled via Apple's Rosetta 2, a next-gen emulation layer, which makes it possible to run these outdated apps on a newer system – even if the apps were never updated for compatibility. There might be some hiccups, but most – if not all – of the functionality should remain.

Moreover, the development team at Apple is currently working on virtualization software to support Linux and Docker with Mac's new ARM processor, as well as Catalyst; a platform for porting iOS apps to macOS. Specific timelines for these releases have not been announced at the time of this writing, but they'll certainly expand the library of apps that are available on macOS.

In fact, Apple hasn't provided much in the way of details regarding their new ARM processors, either. While we know that it's expected to make its debut by the end of this year, alongside a quick start program meant for current Mac developers, an exact date has yet to be given.

Tim Cook, CEO with Apple, was recently quoted as saying: "The Mac is transitioning to our own Apple silicon. When we make bold changes, it’s for one simple yet powerful reason: so we can make much better products."

It's clear that Apple is ready to make the switch from third-party chips to an in-house, proprietary design, but will their users embrace the change as well? While it does put an end to their 15-year deal with Intel, it gives Apple the opportunity to further push their brand and broaden their horizons.


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