Apple is now focused on developing a new chip for Mac laptops that will improve Mac battery life while in sleep mode. The chip, which was under development, is now the same to one already used in the latest MacBook Pro to power the keyboard’s Touch Bar feature, the people said.
The chip will handle some basic tasks, like checking for email and installing updates, while the computer is asleep. It’s built using ARM Holdings Plc. technology and will work alongside an Intel processor. Apple now for some time depends on the MacBook’s main processor to handle these tasks, but by building a dedicated low-power processor, Apple could reduce battery consumption even further.
Apple now accounts for 7.5 percent of worldwide computer shipments in the fourth quarter, according to data from IDC, the Mac line has long set the standard for design and component improvements. The Intel processor at the core of every MacBook with an Apple-designed ARM processor, like the ones used in iPhones and iPads.
Apple’s first ARM-based Mac chip, known as T1, which was introduced as part of the MacBook Pro that got updated last October. This chip powers the Touch Bar -- a screen built into the keyboard that lets users access app shortcuts, system settings and emojis and some security features such as the enclave that stores payment and biometric data tied to the computer’s fingerprint reader. Chip might debut in an upgraded MacBook Pro that’s as planned the 13-inch Touch Bar model of the MacBook Pro has been frequently criticized for its poor battery life.
The present ARM-based chip for Macs is independent from the computer’s other components, focusing on the Touch Bar’s function by itself. The new version in development would go further by connecting to other parts of a Mac’s system, including storage and wireless components, in order to take on the additional responsibilities.
Intel’s designs and production technology have created processors that rivals and contract manufacturers haven’t been able match. If companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. continue to narrow the gap with what Intel’s factories can make, Apple may have more scope to design its own parts. ARM-based processors dominate the Smartphone and tablet markets in part because of their power-efficiency.
The battery benefits may only come into play when the laptop is asleep, so it sounds like Apple could be trying to improve its computers’ standby time which it currently quotes as a one month or more. The new chip may first become available in an upgraded version of the MacBook Pro laptop planned for later this year, the people said.