Apple is preparing to release several new Mac laptops and desktops with faster processors, new designs and improved connectivity to external devices, accelerating the company’s effort to replace Intel chips and leapfrog rival PC makers.
The overhaul encompasses Apple’s higher-end laptop, the MacBook Pro; the laptop aimed at the mass market, the MacBook Air; and the Mac Pro, iMac and Mac mini desktop computers, according to people familiar with the matter.
Redesigned MacBook Pros are expected to debut by mid-year, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal matter, followed by a revamped MacBook Air, a new low-end MacBook Pro and an all-new Mac Pro workstation.
The company is also working on a higher-end Mac mini desktop and larger iMac.
The machines will feature processors designed in-house that will greatly outpace the performance and capabilities of the current M1 chips, the people said.
Apple’s 2021 MacBook Pro series
Apple plans to launch the redesigned MacBook Pros in 14-inch (code name J314) and 16-inch screen (J316) sizes.
They’ll have a redesigned chassis, magnetic MagSafe charger and more ports for connecting external drives and devices. Apple is also bringing back the HDMI port and SD card slot, which it nixed in previous versions, sparking criticism from photographers and the like.
A major change to the new computers will be how they charge. Over the past five years, Apple has relied on USB-C ports for both power and data transfer on its laptops, making them compatible with other manufacturers’ chargers.
But the company is now bringing back MagSafe, the magnetic power adapter that means any accidental yanking of the power cable would simply detach it from the laptop rather than pull down the entire computer.
It was a favorite feature of the company’s portable PC lineup that was first introduced in 2006 and most recently revived for its latest lineup of iPhones.
The return of MagSafe with the next MacBook Pros will also reportedly allow those laptops to charge at a faster rate. The connector will be similar to the elongated pill-shape design of the older MagSafe port.
Despite moving away from USB-C for charging, Apple will still include multiple USB-C ports on its future Macs.
Apple has also tested versions that remove the Touch Bar from its MacBook Pro laptop keyboards.
The Touch Bar, introduced as part of the last MacBook Pro redesign in 2016, turns the keyboard’s top row from function keys into a touchscreen strip that can display a variety of information and a changing set of controls to adapt to apps and tasks. Some professional users have said they found that control scheme less convenient than physical keys.
Muscling up the M2 processor
Both the 14- and 16-inch models will use next-generation versions of Apple’s in-house Mac processors, upgraded with more computing and graphics cores, boosting speeds for everyday tasks and such intensive work as video editing and programming.
For the new MacBook Pros, Apple is planning two different chips, codenamed Jade C-Chop and Jade C-Die: both include eight high-performance cores and two energy-efficient cores for a total of 10, but will be offered in either 16 or 32 graphics core variations.
The high-performance cores kick in for more complex jobs, while the energy-efficient cores operate at slower speeds for more basic needs like web browsing, preserving battery life.
The new chips differ from the M1’s design, which has four high-performance cores, four energy-efficient cores and eight graphics cores in the current 13-inch MacBook Pro.
The chips also include up to 64GB of memory versus a maximum of 16GB on the M1.
They’ll have an improved Neural Engine, which processes machine-learning tasks, and enable the addition of more Thunderbolt ports, which let users sync data and connect to external devices, than the two on the current M1 MacBook Pro.
Apple’s 2021 MacBook Air
For a redesigned, higher-end MacBook Air planned for as early as the end of the year or in 2022, Apple is planning a direct successor to the M1 processor.
That chip, codenamed Staten, will include the same number of computing cores as the M1 but run faster. It will also see the number of graphics cores increase from seven or eight to nine or 10. Apple is also planning an update to the low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro with that same chip.
Apple has discussed making the MacBook Air smaller by shrinking the border around the screen, which will remain 13-inches. The current model weighs 2.8 pounds and is just over half an inch at its thickest point.
The company considered building a larger version of the MacBook Air with a 15-inch screen, but Apple isn’t moving forward with this for the next generation, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
This next version of the MacBook Air will include Apple’s MagSafe charging technology alongside a pair of USB 4 ports for connecting external devices.
The new laptop is destined to be a higher-end version of the current MacBook Air, which is expected to remain in the company’s lineup as an entry-level offering. Apple last updated the product in November with its own M1 Mac chip, replacing a processor from Intel.
Big things, small packages
Apple has also been working on a more powerful version of the Mac mini (code name J374) with the same chip as the next MacBook Pro. It’s expected to have four ports versus the pair available on the current low-end version and to sit above the current entry-level M1 Mac Mini.
Apple could delay or cancel the new mini’s launch – as it has in the past – but eventually the company will likely replace the Intel-equipped version it now sells.
Buyers of the high-end Mac Pro desktop planned for next year will likely have a choice of two processors that are either twice or four times as powerful as the new high-end MacBook Pro chip.
Codenamed Jade 2C-Die and Jade 4C-Die, a redesigned Mac Pro is planned to come in 20 or 40 computing core variations, made up of 16 high-performance or 32 high-performance cores and four or eight high-efficiency cores.
The chips would also include either 64 core or 128 core options for graphics. The computing core counts top the 28 core maximum offered by today’s Intel Mac Pro chips, while the higher-end graphics chips would replace parts now made by AMD.
The new Mac Pro has been in the works for several months and is expected to look like a smaller version of the current design, which was launched in 2019.
Apple has also been working on a larger iMac with in-house processors, but development of that version was paused months ago in part to let Apple focus on releasing the redesigned 24-inch model this month.
This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here