Apple's upcoming high-end ARM chips might offer up to 32 performance cores

Apple outlined its plans to move to ARM-based processors earlier this year during its annual developer conference. The firm finally unveiled the M1 chip – its custom silicon – and MacBook and Mac mini devices running the new chips last month. While some benchmarks suggest that the new offering exceeds high-end Intel chips in terms of performance, the Cupertino company is still offering Intel variants and plans to gradually replace higher-end Macs with more powerful in-house chips.

Now, a Bloomberg report sheds light on some of those plans and the possible configurations of the more powerful SoCs that the firm is working on for its devices. According to people familiar with the matter, the company is working on introducing new offerings sometime in the spring and fall next year. The chips might include a design with 16 performance cores and four efficiency cores.

However, the chips will reportedly be limited initially to eight or 12 performance core sporting variants for new MacBook Pro and iMac devices, with the possible addition of a 32-core SKU slated for late 2021 to be used in the Mac Pro. The report also hints at a possible “half-sized Mac Pro” debut sometime in 2022.

Additionally, the report also states that the firm is working on “ambitious” graphic processors to be offered in its devices. The iPhone company reportedly plans on introducing 16- and 32- core GPUs integrated into the SoCs for use in high-end laptops and desktops – up from the eight-core variants in the M1. There are also plans for 64- or 128-core variants later in 2021 or 2022 for the top tier Macs aimed at providing unparalleled graphical processing prowess in comparison to GPUs from Nvidia and AMD.

It will be interesting to see how Apple progresses with its plans to reduce – and potentially eliminate the reliance on third-party vendors for its processor requirements. With the M1 chips already gaining positive reviews and offering impressive performance gains, it will be no surprise if the reported beefier chips outperform the highest-end silicon from the likes of Intel and AMD. However, since these plans are internal and unannounced, they could very well change in the future.

Source: Bloomberg (paywall)

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