MacBook Pro and all-new iMac will be first to get Apple's ARM chips

MacBook Pro 2020
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple is all but confirmed to reveal its new custom ARM processors at WWDC 2020 today. And we now know which products those chips may debut on, as the company is tipped to bring them to the 13-inch MacBook Pro and a redesigned iMac 2020 later this year and in early 2021 respectively. 

That’s according to Apple oracle and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in his latest note to investors, as reported by MacRumors. The MacBook Pro will have a fresh non-Intel chip, while the iMac will undergo a complete redesign and feature a new form factor. 

“The new model’s form factor design will be similar to that of the existing Intel 13.3-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌. Apple will discontinue the Intel 13.3-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ production after launching the ARM 13.3-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌,” said Kuo. ‌”ARM‌ ‌iMac‌ will be equipped with the all-new form factor design and a 24- inch display. Apple will launch the refresh of existing Intel ‌iMac‌ in 3Q20 before launching the ‌ARM‌ ‌iMac‌.” 

The ARM-based chips will make their initial debut in the redesigned iMac, which will arrive no earlier than the third quarter of 2020; around September or October time. Meanwhile, the 13-inch MacBook Pro will get an ARM chip refresh either towards the end of 2020 or in the first quarter of 2021. That would track roughly with Apple’s MacBook Pro refresh timings we’ve seen in the past. 

We’d been expecting to see a new 12-inch MacBook ARM shown off at WWDC, but this doesn’t look like it’ll be the case. Rather Apple is more likely to officially reveal how it has its own ARM-based chip in the works and the roadmap for its Mac lineup. 

It’ll take Apple a bit of time before it can fully transition from the Intel processors it uses for all of its Mac machines. And ARM-based chips use a different architecture than Intel chips, which use the x86 architecture, meaning developers will have to rework their apps and software to run on the ARM RISC architecture. As such, rather than reveal any new Mac hardware at WWDC, Apple is probably more likely to reveal a developer kit to make it easier for app makers to transition their software to future ARM-based Macs. 

Going by other rumors we’d also been expecting to see Apple’s new AirPods Studio over-ear headphones. But according to tech leaker Jon Prosser, Apple isn’t likely to reveal any hardware at WWDC. 

Given that WWDC is a developer-centric event, a lack of hardware wouldn't be a huge surprise and would be in line with previous events. We’re expecting a deep-dive into iOS 14 and how it will evolve the software experience on the iPhone and give us some hints at the iPhone 12’s capabilities, in addition to major new software updates for iPadOS, watchOS and more.

If you’re keen to hear what Apple has up its software sleeve, then here’s how to watch WWDC 2020. And remember to check back with Tom’s Guide as we’ll keep you abreast of all the important WWDC news. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.