New rumors point to Apple eying Macs based on ARM chips

Apple is undoubtedly testing ARM-based Macs internally and has been for some time. The question is, when -- or even if -- it will make the switch? A new rumor says it may be getting closer.

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Apple's Phil Schiller has talked a lot about the 'deskop-class' 64-bit A7 processor. Is he trying to tell us something? CNET

Apple continues to work on ARM-based versions of its Mac line, according to spate of reports from blogs that follow Apple.

So, is Apple considering OS X-based Macs using its own A series processors or other ARM processors? Yes (it would be dumb if it didn't). Will Apple actually make the move to ARM, from Intel, in a real product? That's what we don't know (yet).

But reports from MacRumors and other blogs on Monday claim that Apple is actively developing ARM-based Macs, including an iMac, Mac Mini, and 13-inch MacBook.

The machines, as rumored, come with a new keyboard that integrates "a large-format Magic Trackpad," MacRumors said.

Of course, this also presumes that an OS X equivalent operating system is running on Apple's ARM processors.

It's important to note that this rumor isn't from a traditional source like KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo but rather a French-language Apple site, MacBidouille (which MacRumors cites). And the fact that MacBidouille claims multiple 64-bit quad-core processors inside the rumored devices (the iPad Air and ARM-based Chromebooks, for example, use just one) is peculiar.

Put aside all the rumors for a minute, though, and consider what Apple has been saying ever since it announced the 64-bit A7 processor last September: its A series processors are now 64-bit and offer "desktop-class" performance.

Fast forward to the A8 processor (rumored successor to the A7), which will likely be considerably faster than the A7 and be offered in quad-core variants, making it at least theoretically suitable for a low-end Mac.

One of the first widely cited rumors claiming Apple was switching to ARM was in May 2011, appropriately headlined: "Apple dumps Intel from laptop lines."

And this wouldn't be the first time that Apple made a platform change. In 2005 Apple announced that it was switching to Intel processors and dumping the PowerPC architecture.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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