12-inch MacBook with 5 nm A14X before year's end, first iMac with Apple GPU in 2021
Apple’s first ARM-based Mac will launch before the end of the year and come in the form of a 12-inch MacBook, according to a report by the China Times. It will be powered by an all-new Apple 14X Bionic chip that is currently going by the codename Tonga and will be fabricated on TSMC’s 5 nm process. Following in the footsteps of the ARM-based Samsung Galaxy Book S, it will weigh under one kilogram and will deliver battery life estimated at between 15-20 hours -- in our testing with the Galaxy Book S, we saw it achieve over 20 hours battery life, so this is very much in line with our expectations.
Another interesting aspect of the China Times report is its assertion that Apple will use USB-C ports on the 12-inch MacBook. Apple has already said that it will support Thunderbolt 3 on its ARM-based Macs but the lack of specificity around Thunderbolt doesn’t mean that the 12-inch MacBook will miss out on Thunderbolt 3 support. It is entirely possible that Apple could address this by adopting the new USB 4 standard over the Type-C connector which integrates support for Intel’s Thunderbolt standard after it made the specifications available to the USB Implementer's Forum.
When we correctly speculated that Apple would make a wholesale transition to ARM-based Macs across its entire range earlier this year, we also speculated that Apple would also scale up its in-house graphics architecture as well. Although Apple currently uses AMD GPUs in its Mac range, the China Times report says that it will indeed use in-house Apple GPU designs in its forthcoming Macs. Apple’s iMac range will be the first to debut this technology in what could well be Apple’s first discrete GPU cards -- this could prove very interesting to benchmark when it ships!