Until Apple starts using its own processors in Macs, the future of Intel is the future of Apple’s laptops.
Apple may end up making Macs with processors of its own design, but that’s not expected to happen soon. And if it does happen, it probably will take several years before the entire Mac lineup has transitioned to Apple-designed chips.
In the meantime, it’s safest to assume that the Macs of the next couple years will primarily use Intel processors. So any time we can get a look at Intel’s road map, we’re getting a peak at the heart of the Mac.
During a recent investor presentation, Intel extended its public road map (go. macworld.com/pbmp) through 2020 and gave an update on future products and manufacturing processes. Here’s what that means for the Mac.
ICE LAKE THIS YEAR
Intel has been struggling to bring 10nm chips to market—the 14nm process node has lasted two years longer than expected—but it will finally ship volume processors for consumers with the 10nm process this year.
The company’s first large-scale 10nm consumer product is codenamed IceLake, and is expected to ship to Intel’s customers in June. It’s aimed at laptops, from ultra-portable up to high-performance models.
Ice Lake processors use Intel’s brand-new Sunny Cove CPU architecture, which should deliver the first real boost in single-thread performance in a long time. Most of Intel’s speed gains over the last few years are due to boosting clock speeds and adding cores, but the Sunny Cove architecture is expected to make each core faster, clock-for-clock.
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