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Apple Prepping Several MacBooks Powered By Own Chips: Report

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says a MacBook Air and a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro will be the first notebooks powered by Apple's own processors.
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Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report plans to launch four MacBooks powered by its own silicon over the next 12 months or so, according to the latest report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Kuo says he expects a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro containing an ARM-architecture Apple processor to launch in Q4, and a MacBook Air powered by Apple silicon to arrive either in Q4 or in Q1 2021. In addition, he forecasts 14-inch and 16-inch, Apple-powered, MacBook Pros featuring an “all-new form factor design” will arrive in Q2 or Q3 2021.

The report comes three weeks after one from Kuo that forecast a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro and a 24-inch iMac powered by Apple chips would arrive in late 2020 or early 2021. His latest note, which is focused on Apple’s notebook efforts, doesn’t mention the 24-inch iMac.

That prior report came just before Apple’s WWDC conference, where the company confirmed its much-rumored plans to launch Macs powered by its own processors.

The company added that its first Apple-powered Mac would arrive this year, and that it would fully transition its Mac lineup from Intel  (INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report to Apple processors within two years. At the same time, Apple said it still has some Intel-powered Macs in its pipeline.

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Few details were shared about the specs of the first Apple Mac processors, but Apple did promise that the chips, which can leverage the company’s extensive R&D work on iPhone/iPad processors, will deliver performance-per-watt improvements that will improve MacBook battery lives. The company also indicated that the processors will contain powerful integrated GPUs.

With macOS developers needing to rewrite their apps for Apple chips in order to achieve optimal performance, Apple also unveiled a new version of its Xcode software development suite that it says will allow macOS apps written to run on x86-architecture CPUs (such as Intel’s) to be written for ARM-architecture CPUs within a few days. It also rolled out a development system powered by the iPad Pro’s A12Z Bionic processor, as well as app-conversion software that (in exchange for a performance hit relative to rewriting an app) will automatically translate x86 apps to run on ARM Macs when they’re installed.

Apple’s Mac transition is happening at a time when notebook demand is on the upswing thanks to purchases made to support remote workers and students. On Thursday, research firms Gartner and IDC both said they believed Mac sales rose on an annual basis in Q2, albeit while sharing very different numbers.

Gartner estimates Mac shipments rose 5.1% annually in Q2 to 4.37 million. IDC, meanwhile, thinks Mac shipments rose 36% to 5.59 million.

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