MacBook 12-inch: Apple’s first ARM-based Mac expected in 2021


While we are still waiting on a new 13-inch MacBook Pro 2020, there’s already been plenty of speculation about what could come next – including murmurs of a new ARM-based MacBook 12-inch.

Apple has been using such processors for a long time across its iPhone and iPad ranges, but it looks like it could be time for them to make the jump to laptops and PC – starting with the reintroduction of the 12-inch MacBook.

Company’s like Microsoft, Lenovo and Samsung have started putting Qualcomm-made ARM processors in some of its machines – the Surface Pro X, Lenovo Yoga C630 and the Samsung Galaxy Book S – with varying results. 

Certainly, none of these attempts has cracked the formula just yet, but can Apple do it with an in-house ARM chip?

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

MacBook 12-inch price – How much will the ARM MacBook cost?

Few reports have hinted towards a price for a new ARM-based MacBook just yet, especially ahead of a device confirmation.

If a new ARM-based MacBook 12 does make it to market soon, then we expect it to undercut the £999 starting price of the MacBook Air 2020. 

Related: MacBook Air 2020 vs MacBook Pro 2019

MacBook 12-inch release date – When will the ARM MacBook be released?

Reports from Bloomberg and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo point towards a 2021 release for a new ARM MacBook. Kuo is more specific, pointing to a Q4 2020/Q1 2021 release date.

Related: MacBook Air 2020 vs MacBook Air 2019

MacBook 12-inch specs – What is the ARM MacBook?

The new ARM MacBook 12 is expected to sport a 12-core processor – a combination of eight high-performance cores (codenamed Firestorm) and four energy-efficient core (codenamed Icestorm).

In future, Apple is expected to turbocharge the number of cores its chips will have as it looks to surpass Intel’s count by two or three times.

Related: Best MacBook

MacBook 12-inch design – What will the ARM MacBook look like?

Reports are few and far between regarding a new 12-inch MacBook design. However, ARM enables thin and light chassis – making a return to a smaller MacBook design seem likely.

Apple is reported as having made an ARM MacBook prototype back in 2018 – based on the A12X processor from that year’s iPad Pro. The success of this prototype is said to have spurred on Apple’s hopes of replacing Intel in future Macs. 

With this prototype in Apple’s rearview mirror, the company would be expected to have a pretty good idea of the design to come for its first ARM-based Mac laptop.

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