Apple is developing its own chip for its MacBook Pros, but will not replace the Intel chipsets that will continue to power their computers. Bloomberg found that the company will be making an assistive chip in order to handle low-power functions of the device. In fact, there already is a chip that is separate from the Intel one that is used in the MacBook Pro for functioning of the TouchBar and the Touch ID sensor.
According to a Cult of Mac report, the development of such a chip had begun sometime around last year and was kept under the name T310. The chip will be a custom ARM chip developed by the technology giant wholly, for future Macs but will never replace the Intel chips that Apple relies on.
The processing chip that powers the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar and Touch ID is the same one that also powers the Apple Watch Series 2, dubbed the T1 chip. The chip runs for very specific features, especially security. So, while in the MacBook Pro the Intel Processors do the hard work, made for x86 code, while the ARM T1 chip will only run ARM based code. The T310 is supposed to be a little more powerful than the T1 and Apple wants it to expand the tasks that it will be capable of handling. Only, it will still be a co-processor being used for functions such as Power Nap, which enables the computer to silently fetch emails, sync cloud data and other functions while the system is seemingly ‘sleeping’.
BGR notes that a similar kind of function is also found in Apple’s iPhones and iPads in applications such as Siri that silently keep track of the user’s voice so it can pick the ‘Hey Siri’ launch keyword. Since iPhones run on ARM based chips, Apple’s T310 chip will not be any different than how it will work on those devices, since background tasks are performed much more efficiently on a separate ARM chip than an Intel one which is x86.
In fact, the idea is not all that new. Many companies have different ways of boosting efficiency of their devices by either installed processors with different sets of cores for different purposes, as is the case with the PlayStation 4, which uses an extra custom chipset solely for handling background downloads and other in-built applications, without causing any stress on the main processor and thus efficiently working in parallel with it.
If this is the future for Macs out there, we can expect some significant changes to the MacBook line-up.