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New MacBooks ready to ditch Intel processors, macOS code suggests

by Jacob Kleinman | September 30, 2016September 30, 2016 11:45 am PST

Apple’s relied on Intel chips to power its Mac computers since 2005, but that partnership could be coming to an end. A bit of code in macOS Sierra suggests the Cupertino company is gearing up to use its ARM-based processors instead.

The macOS kernel, which Dutch site TechTastic took some time to dig through, adds support for a new CPU family called “ARM Hurricane.” Apple’s given its recent ARM-based Ax chips similar codenames (A7 was Cyclone, A8 was Typhoon and A9 was Twister).  Hurricane might be an unannounced sequel, or it might even be the A10 Fusion processor introduced with the iPhone 7.

The A10 Fusion chip is Apple’s first model with a quad-core design, packing two cores for high-performance tasks and two energy efficient cores for regular activities. Based on recent benchmarks, the A10 Fusion even rivals the Intel Core M chip used to power the 12-inch MacBook. That means it’s not out of the question that new MacBooks could rely on an A-series chip.

There’s one more bit of evidence.

TechTastic notes that macOS Sierra also changes the way developers submit third-party Mac apps. Basically, it allows Apple to automatically convert those apps between platforms. That could make it possible to easily switch all apps to work with an ARM-based chip without requiring each developer to resubmit their software.

Apple is expected to unveil new MacBooks next month, which could provide the company with a perfect opportunity to announce the big switch. Cupertino hasn’t confirmed plans for another event yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as the invitations go out.

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Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...