The first iMac to feature Apple Silicon ARM processors is rumored to arrive early next year, the first in a wave of new Mac desktops featuring Apple's custom designed processors. The new iMac will be powered by a desktop class A14T chip, along with a new Apple GPU, and will arrive in the first half of 2021.
We've been waiting for news of Apple Silicon-powered desktops ever since Apple's June announcement that the company would transition away from Intel, moving entirely a proprietary architecture similar to that used in iPads and iPhones.
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According to Chinese language newspaper The China Times (via MacRumors), Apple is readying its first desktop processor, the A14T chip (under the development code name "Mt. Jade") which is being produced alongside a self-developed GPU code named "Lifuka."
Both chips are being produced using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, which promises higher computing performance and better overall power efficiency, lending itself to the sort of professional-grade performance that have led both professionals and casual users to embrace Apple products.
Using hardware designed in-house will also grant Apple far more control over how software runs on the new Macs, providing especially tight integration between the different Apple computing products, which range from the desktop iMac to the pocket-sized iPhone. Native support for iPhone and iPad apps on the Mac will also see significant improvements as all of these disparate products switch to a similar processing architecture.
The new processing hardware will be found in an yet-to-be-announced iMac set to launch in the first half of 2021. We would expect this new hardware to debut in the larger iMac's 27-inch size, since it's been the flagship of Apple's desktop line, but with the potential of a redesigned iMac on the horizon, even that speculative detail is unknown.
Specific details have not been shared by Apple, but an Apple event focused on Mac and Apple silicon hardware is rumored for November 17th. At that same event, Apple is expected to announce a new Apple Silicon-based MacBook Pro, expected to release before the end of the year.
Apple developers can already get their hands on the first non-retail Apple Silicon Macs, as Apple has shared a Developer Transition Kit Mac mini running on an Apple Silicon A12Z processor. These kits are limited to a select few, and aren't likely to be sold in regular retail.
But the arrival of the first ARM-based iMac doesn't mean that current Intel-based models won't be updated next year. With Apple promising to transition to Apple Silicon full by the end of 2022, it's reasonable to predict that some Intel iMacs will still be announced alongside the new models with Apple inside.