Apple is building a custom ARM chip to handle low power tasks on future MacBooks: Report

Apple is looking to enhance its Mac lineup by adding another CPU into the mix. This CPU is likely to be an ARM-based design that will reside alongside an Intel CPU.

Apple’s MacBooks have featured Intel CPUs for many years now, and one can see why. Intel offers a combination of relatively low power consumption and high CPU performance that’s hard to match by rival AMD. However, an Intel CPU is no match for an ARM CPU when it comes to power consumption.

ARM CPUs are used in mobile devices for this very reason. They sip power and they’re incredibly efficient. The only problem is that they’re not powerful enough to compete with Intel in the desktop space.

Apple already uses an ARM chip in its 2016 MacBook Pros. This chip handles the TouchBar and TouchID sensor of the MacBook Pros.

The iPhone maker apparently wants to design some new ARM chips that it can use alongside Intel CPUs. These chips are intended to handle Apple’s PowerNap feature, reports Bloomberg.

PowerNap is a feature that lets MacBooks receive software updates, email, etc. even when your MacBook’s lid is closed. This is a very low power state that’s intended to keep your device up-to-date in the background. Traditionally, the Intel chip was used for this.

Replacing this with an ARM CPU makes a lot of sense because the tasks to be performed are very specific and routine. Of course, the ultra-low power consumption of ARM chips will also help. Given Apple’s tight hardware and software integration, we doubt that Microsoft will do something similar any time soon.

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There has been speculation that ARM will eventually overtake Intel, particularly in the server space. That might eventually happen, but right now, ARM has nothing that can compete with the raw performance of an Intel platform.