Apple’s Upcoming, Affordable, 13″ MacBook Rumored to be ARM-Based

Macbook X Concept By Ludovico Campana Image 1

MacBook X Concept by Ludovico Campana

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Pegatron, one of Apple’s largest product assembly partners in the Far East, has been chosen to assemble the Cupertino tech-giant’s upcoming 13-inch MacBook model exclusively, according to a DigiTimes report published on Tuesday.

While the report stopped short of laying out a specific timeline for its release, citing industry sources, DigiTimes reporters claimed that Apple’s refreshed 13-inch MacBook model is codenamed “Star” internally, and carries the series number N84.

“Pegatron is likely to land orders from Apple to produce an ARM-based MacBook model, codenamed Star with a series number N84,” industry sources said. 

13-inch MacBook Rumors

DigiTimes is known for its historically accurate track record when it comes to predicting Apple product plans. It was earlier this year, for instance, when the Taiwanese publication first reported Apple’s plans to kill its ultra-thin 13-inch MacBook Air and replace it with a slightly upgraded 13-inch MacBook of similar “entry-level proportions” this year.

Shortly thereafter, former KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo issued a research note in which he corroborated the original DigiTimes report, noting in particular that Apple “has a more affordable MacBook Air” slated for release at some time in 2018.

It’s not entirely clear if the 13-inch MacBook refresh will be of the MacBook Air, MacBook, or MacBook Pro families (or whether it will be marketed under some other name, entirely). Also unclear is what kind of material upgrades we can expect of the revamped notebook — save for its rumored lower price point.

Interestingly, DigiTimes suggested Apple could upgrade the unit’s display to a 13-inch Retina panel like the MacBook Pro — however the move would likely raise further questions about the new MacBook’s place in Apple’s broader lineup.

An ARM-based Mac?

Even more interesting is that DigiTimes — for the very first time — asserted in today’s report that Apple’s upcoming 13-inch MacBook will employ ARM’s CPU architecture as opposed to Intel’s.

While these claims are unverified until further notice, it’s worth pointing out that reports spanning as far back as September of last year have claimed that Apple eventually plans to build its own in-house CPUs for Mac computers like iMac and MacBook based on technology owned and licensed by ARM.

In fact, Apple already utilizes the ARM-designed T1 chip, which acts as the co-processor powering the OLED Touch Bar in its recent high-end MacBook Pro models. So it’s only plausible that Apple’s relationship with ARM would tighten as they work together to create and employ new technologies.

On the other hand, Apple is expected to retain Intel as its primary chip supplier — especially for MacBook Pros and future Macs of the high-end variety — for the foreseeable future. Intel’s insanely powerful i9 SoC is slated to be a powerhouse for future MacBooks and potentially iMac models.

As far as the 13-inch MacBook Air refresh is pertinent, well, it’s been about three years since we’ve seen any notable upgrades or revisions, so it would only seem fitting if all these 13-inch MacBook rumors turned out to be true. Perhaps Apple will surprise us at WWDC with a newer, lighter, cheaper, and faster MacBook Air, after all.

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