Apple is said to be working on new Mac laptops and a desktop with Apple coprocessors, similar to the T2 chip seen in the iMac Pro and the T1 chip introduced with the 2016 MacBook Pro, according to Bloomberg.
The publication also reports that a new iPad will be launching towards the end of the year. Details on these machines are scarce as they are presented as tidbits as part of a larger article on Apple’s chip division.
The Bloomberg report does not specify which lines will be getting the significant internal upgrades. It says Apple is working on ‘at least’ three new models with accompanying Apple-designed silicon, including two laptops and a new desktop.
The modular Mac Pro is a likely candidate for the ‘desktop’, given that the T2 already exists in Apple’s next-highest pro machine, but it could be destined for a consumer iMac refresh as well. Apple has pre-announced that a new Mac Pro is in development but did not guarantee the product would be unveiled in 2018.
Regarding laptops, other rumors have suggested that MacBook Pros are not due for a major update this year. Updates for the Retina MacBook are very much expected though, so this could be one of the models being referred to.
The T1 chip in current MacBook Pro models manages the Touch Bar and Touch ID components, including the Secure Enclave. The T2 found in iMac Pro is more ambitious, securing the core OS with Secure Boot, acting as the disk controller for the SSDs, and is the image signal processor for the FaceTime camera, amongst other functions.
If the new iPad refresh isn’t to be expected until the end of year, it is possible Apple skips the A11 series for its tablets and jumps straight to an ‘A12X’ equivalent. Apple’s current iPad Pros launched in June 2017 with A10X processors. It would be strange for Apple to stick to ‘A11’ chips for year-end iPads as presumably the new iPhones will house A12 internals.
The full article from Bloomberg details growth of Apple’s chip division, headed by Johny Srouji. Apple designs SoCs for iPhones, iPads and Apple Watch as well as the co-processors found in new Macs. One day, Apple could make the actual CPUs inside Mac computers, although this would require a complicated transition away from the x86 architecture to ARM.
Bloomberg says Apple has been poaching engineers from Qualcomm in recent months. This suggests Apple wants to design its own cellular baseband modem chips, although this is still a ways off. Qualcomm was the exclusive supplier of iPhone and iPad cellular LTE chips for many years.
Since iPhone 7, Qualcomm and Intel have shared orders. It has been rumored that the forthcoming 2018 iPhones will not include any chips from Qualcomm at all.