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MacBook 'Star' could be the first ARM-powered MacBook

The Apple MacBook could soon have an ARM variant. (Source: Apple)
The Apple MacBook could soon have an ARM variant. (Source: Apple)
Apple is reportedly preparing to introduce ARM-powered notebooks. A Digitimes report says that Pegatron has landed orders from Apple for an ARM-powered MacBook codenamed 'Star' with series number N84. The new MacBooks are speculated to run an iOS derivative and could be marketed separately from other Intel-based MacBooks.

Apple could be working on ARM-powered MacBooks if word on the street is to be believed. The secret project codenamed 'Star' is expected to feature lightweight MacBooks running on ARM chips and probably a portmanteau of the best of macOS and iOS.

A few days ago, 9to5Mac quoted supply chain sources who shared some information regarding 'Star' prototypes being currently tested at Apple HQ. The sources say that the device has a touchscreen, a SIM card slot, GPS, compass, has water resistance, and support for the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI). The presence of the EFI, which is the boot up program in any Mac, has lead to speculation that this is a new MacBook in the making. 

Now, Digitimes quotes industry sources who claim that Taiwanese electronics manufacturing company Pegatron has landed orders from Apple to produce the 'Star' MacBooks with series number N84. Pegatron was the supplier who was entrusted with assembling the iPhone 8. The company declined to comment for obvious reasons. 

So, will we finally get to see a truly capable yet ultra-portable ARM-powered MacBook? Well, given the shroud of secrecy Apple maintains (or atleast hopes to maintain) regarding its products, it's too early to say anything. The ARM architecture itself is not hindrance as Apple has some of the highest performing ARM SoCs most of which are not even pushed to their limits even in newer devices. The limiting factor, however, could be software. We reported some time ago about rumors of Apple trying to combine iOS and macOS to bring universal apps to the macOS App Store but looks like Tim Cook is apparently not too happy about such a prospect. Gauging by the features of the 'Star' device being quoted by supply chain sources, it looks like the device will run a more 'capable' iOS version and in all likelihood would be a separate product line.

Actually, Apple was indeed toying with the idea of porting Mac OS X Snow Leopard to ARM back in 2012 but Tim Cook felt that the iPad can satisfy those who need ARM-based computing and there has been no info on that project since. Microsoft already has Windows 10 running on ARM chips and while the performance of such laptops is nowhere stellar, they do help in catering to the road warrior with long battery life and always-on LTE connectivity.

It, however, seems highly unlikely that Apple would talk about 'Star' in the upcoming WWDC event. The Digitimes report does say that Pegatron is 'likely to land orders...' implying that modalities are still being worked out. Nevertheless we will be bringing you the latest scoop from WWDC as soon as it kicks off on June 4 at 10 AM PDT so stay tuned.

Are you looking forward to an ARM-powered MacBook? Let us know in the comments below.


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Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2018-05-30 (Update: 2018-05-30)