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Apple to reveal plans for using its own chips in Macs at WWDC, report says

The new chips, based on those that have powered iPhones and iPad for years, could reportedly lead to thinner, lighter Mac laptops.

Future Mac computers will reportedly be powered by Apple's home-made Arm-based chips, unlike this 2019 iMac shown above. 
Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET's complete coverage from and about Apple's annual developers conference.

In 2010, Apple surprised the tech world when it announced it built its own chip, then called the A4, to power its newly revealed iPad tablet. This year, the company might do it again, but this time to announce a shift to its homemade chips for Mac computers, too.

The move, which has been long rumored, would mean Apple would start dropping Intel's processors chips from being the brains of at least some of its computers. The partnership, which was publicly announced in 2005, has made possible devices like the MacBook Air laptop

Apple will make the move official later this month at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, according to a Bloomberg report on Tuesday. WWDC 2020 is set to take place on June 22, and will be held online due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the timing of the chip announcement could change, Bloomberg said, due to the outbreak's impact on Apple's production.

Apple declined to comment.

The move to use its own chips to power its Mac computers would give Apple an opportunity to custom-design chips that fit its penchant for ever smaller, thinner and longer-lasting devices. In past years, while working with Intel, the company designed new fans to keep its laptops cool, new laptop cases machined out of a single piece of aluminum and new keyboards to allow for a lower-profile screen and hinge.

Now Apple will be able to use its well-regarded iPhone and iPad chips, which industry watchers have speculated will run cooler and offer better battery life. 

The company's latest chip, the A13 Bionic, powers the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE. Apple's chips are based on technology designed by Arm Holdings, a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Softbank. Arm's designs are also used as the basis for chips made by Samsung, Qualcomm and Nvidia.

Long rumored

Rumors of Apple's shift away from Intel have floated around the industry for years. In April 2018, it was reported that Apple was in the early stages of creating its own processors for its MacBook and iMac. Should the shift happen, the Mac computer line would have a processor strategy similar to that for the iPhone and iPad

Read more: Best desktops for 2020

Apple's testing of Macs with Arm-based chips has shown improvements in graphics performance and apps using artificial intelligence over previous devices powered by Intel chips, according to Bloomberg. The new chips could also lead to thinner and lighter Mac laptops in the future, Bloomberg said. 

The computer maker is reportedly working on at least three of its own Mac processors. The first Mac featuring the new chip could be available in 2021, Bloomberg said.

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