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Apple insiders say 2021 MacBooks will have 12-core ARM processors

According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple has designed its own trio of processors for its 2021 products, which means we might be about to see the end of the Intel and MacBook team.

Anonymous sources have said that the tech giant is working on new processors for the upcoming A14 chip. That chip is rumoured to be landing on the next line of flagship iPhones coming later this year, but these powerful new ARM-processors would be used as part of the 2021 Mac line.

Related: Do we need an ARM MacBook in an iPad Pro world?

This certainly isn’t the first time that we’ve heard a rumour along these lines. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed Apple would start using an ARM-based chip in Mac products back in February.

Kuo also said that it was likely Apple would roll out the new chips gradually, to give developers time to make sure their products are compatible with the new setup. This would make sense, as previous ARM-based chips have come with a raft of compatibility issues (we’re looking at you, Surface Pro X).

Bloomberg’s report suggests that Apple is working on a 12-core ARM processor, with eight high-performance cores codenamed ‘Firestorm’ and four energy-efficiency cores called ‘Icestorm’. The new processors are apparently being built by TSMC, based on a 5nm fabrication process.

Bloomberg also reports that we’d likely see new ARM-based chips appear on lower-end MacBook first, as they won’t be able to match the powerful Intel products found on higher-end models.

Interestingly, this isn’t quite what Kuo predicted earlier in the year, as the analyst said that we’d likely see a wide variety of Mac products sporting the new chips, including both notebooks and desktop gadgets from the company.

Related: All the rumours about Apple’s ARM-based MacBook

But even if the chips arrive on the lower-end products first, it would mark a step in a bold new direction for Apple, as the company has largely been reliant on Intel cores since 2006.

In terms of benefits, an ARM-based chip could lead to a smaller form-factor and better battery life. It would also save Apple up to 60% on production costs, which could hopefully be passed along to anyone forking out for a new machine.

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