Apple is planning to release a Mac computer with an Apple-designed processor in the first half of 2021, TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note on Monday.
Currently, Apple laptops and desktops use Intel processors, while the company's iPhones and iPads use Apple-designed processors using ARM technology.
The first Mac with an ARM processor could enable Apple to more closely control the Mac release schedule and deliver improvements, such as improved battery life. But it may face challenges ensuring that the apps that run on Mac computers will also run on the new models, since the processors are different.
Kuo believes that Apple's processor will use a 5 nanometer or "5nm" process for the chips in many of its upcoming products. 5nm is a measure of how small, dense, and advanced the chips can be manufactured. He said the 5G iPhone and new iPads planned for 2020 will also use the new 5nm chips.
"We expect that Apple's new products in 12–18 months will adopt processors made by 5nm process, including the new 2H20 5G iPhone, new 2H20 iPad equipped with mini LED, and new 1H21 Mac equipped with the own-design processor," Kuo wrote.
Kuo's research at TF Securities focuses on Apple's supply chain and the companies it contracts with to make computer parts, and he has a reputation for accurately predicting Apple products before they are announced.
Kuo said the deadly COVID-19 virus, which is disrupting electronics manufacturing, will not have any impact on Apple's roadmap for 5nm chips, which he says Apple has increased investment in. The coronavirus may hurt Apple's competitors' development processes more, Kuo said, because Apple will use more resources from companies like chip foundries.