Apple is reportedly developing a new proprietary chip for Macs that'll lessen the burden off the system's main chip by acting as a substitute and secondary processor that'll handle basic tasks, such as emailing or installing updates, while the computer is in sleep mode.
A Secondary Chip For Macs
Having started development last year, the chip will reportedly be similar to the one found on the most recent MacBook Pro that powers the Touch Bar, a horizontal OLED touchscreen that displays a diverse set of buttons based on context.
The report comes from Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, who further states that the updated chip is codenamed T310 and that it would take over the system's low-power mode functionality. The chip will be based on ARM technology, meant to work alongside an Intel processor — handling the main and the more system-straining tasks.
The new chip isn't meant to replace the system's main Intel processor — at least not yet. If it gets to that point, however, that'll be a bold move from Apple, but as for now, the company seems intent on augmenting its Macs with an additional ARM-based processor alongside the main Intel chip, a situation that lends it benefits of both.
At present, Apple currently relies on the main chip to handle system tasks while asleep, but by adding a second chip dedicated to executing less power-heavy tasks, Apple could reduce battery consumption even further, an element crucial to systems, it seems, especially after the latest MacBooks failed to gain Consumer Reports's recommendation but has since been granted.
New Chip Could Ship With Brand-New MacBook
Bloomberg says the new chip could possibly have its debut via an upgraded MacBook Apple plans to unveil later this year. This would be a timely recourse, as the new 13-inch MacBook Pro has been criticized for having a weak battery life. Adding a new chip may help extend its battery capacity a bit further, although exact metrics are as for now guesswork at best.
While the addition of a secondary chip is good news, it's not exactly clear how helpful it would be for anyone who doesn't regularly leave their MacBooks in sleep mode, since the benefits may only come into the picture when the system is asleep.
Bloomberg notes that Apple could even be hush-hush about the whole thing, as it adds the new chip onto a potentially upgraded MacBook, since MacBooks have had a low-power mode for a while now. This seems to suggest that the new chip won't be treated as a headline feature but as an underpinning hardware progression in Apple's MacBook lineup.
At present, Macs have a feature called Power Nap, in which the system executes a bevy of tasks while asleep. For instance, tasks such as receiving email, syncing contacts and calendars, installing software updates, Time Machine backups, and a whole lot more could be performed with the display shut and not in use.
Building its own proprietary chip also helps Apple focus on integrating its hardware and software, although Bloomberg reports that the company has no plans to shed Intel for its laptops and desktops anytime soon.