Apple plans to launch several Mac notebooks and desktop computers with its own custom designed Arm-based processors in 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors.
Kuo believes that Arm-based processors will significantly enhance the competitive advantage of the Mac lineup, allow Apple to refresh its Mac models without relying on Intel's processor roadmap, reduce processor costs by 40 to 60 percent, and provide Macs with more hardware differentiation from Windows PCs.
Earlier this month, Kuo said Apple's first Mac notebooks with Arm-based processors will launch in the fourth quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021.
Kuo expects ASMedia Technology to become the exclusive supplier of USB controllers for Arm-based Macs, adding that the Taiwanese integrated circuit designer will benefit from Macs gaining support for USB4 in 2022.
USB4 converges the Thunderbolt and USB protocols as part of Intel's goal to make Thunderbolt available on a royalty-free basis, which should result in wider and cheaper availability of Thunderbolt accessories like docks and eGPUs.
As USB4 is based on Thunderbolt 3, it offers data transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps, which is twice as fast as the bandwidth of the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 specification. USB4's underlying Thunderbolt 3 protocol also means the specification supports up to two 4K displays or one 5K display over a single cable.
The simplest way to view USB4 is as Thunderbolt 3, but royalty free for manufacturers. Intel will continue to offer Thunderbolt 3 on a standalone basis with a few advantages over USB4, including more support with reference designs and technical issues for manufacturers.
The new USB4 specification was published in September 2019, giving Apple plenty of time to implement it in time for 2022 Macs.