Bloomberg reports that Apple is currently developing a new ARM-based chip that could appear in future MacBook Pros as soon as this year. According to the report, the new Mac chip may be used for low-power tasks that currently rely on Intel’s chip to process.

The report does not detail a full switch to ARM chips for the Mac, however, noting that Macs will still rely on Intel processors unlike iPhones and iPads which are totally ARM-based. Issues with Intel preparing new chips in time to be used with Macs has fueled speculation that Apple could eventually switch to ARM-based chips in the future.

For now, the new ARM chip would potentially be used for dedicated tasks like maintaining background app activity which could preserve battery life.

The updated part, internally codenamed T310, would handle some of the computer’s low-power mode functionality, they said. […]

Apple engineers are planning to offload the Mac’s low-power mode, a feature marketed as “Power Nap,” to the next-generation ARM-based chip.

The report specifies that Apple may be planning to introduce the new chip in updated MacBook Pros as soon as this year.

The new chip may first become available in an upgraded version of the MacBook Pro laptop planned for later this year, the people said.

Relying on a dedicated chip for specific tasks could be a benefit to battery life which has been an issue with Apple’s latest MacBooks Pro models. iPhone, for example, features a dedicated co-processor that focuses on step tracking and listening for the ‘Hey Siri’ voice prompt.

Apple already includes a custom ARM chip called the T1 with its latest MacBook Pro models with Touch Bar and Touch ID.

Separately, new models of the MacBook Pro are expected to take advantage of Intel’s new Kaby Lake generation chips and and step up to 32 GB of RAM on notebooks which has not yet been an option. Apple is also expected to be preparing new iMacs with updated specs including USB-C after the last refresh occurred over a year ago.

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About the Author

Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.