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Apple may release three Macs with custom co-processors in 2018, but which ones?

MacBook Pro

Apple is reportedly planning to release at least three new Mac laptops and desktops with its ‘T’ series of custom co-processors, according to a story in Bloomberg.

Speaking with ‘a person familiar with the plan,’ Bloomberg reports that – as follow-ups to the latest MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and iMac Pro – these updated Mac models with new co-processors will include fresh laptops and a new desktop.

These co-processors are, like those before them, likely to be ARM-based chips that carry out specific functions for Mac computers. For instance, the T1 co-processor inside the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar manages everything about said Touch Bar, while the T2 co-processor handles power management and hardware-level security in the iMac Pro.

Bear in mind that Apple isn’t manufacturing these processors from scratch, but rather designing them using a license from a partner like ARM to then fabricate and produce elsewhere.

Which new Macs can we expect?

Based on previous reports and rumors, we can start to get a bead on exactly which new Mac laptops and desktops with fresh co-processors we’ll see in 2018. First, the aforementioned desktop is almost certainly the modular, ‘completely redesigned, next-generation Mac Pro architected for pro customers’ that Apple itself brought up again before the end of last year.

Next, we’ve already heard – albeit from a dodgy source at best – that Apple doesn’t plan to give a ‘major upgrade’ to its MacBook laptops this year. Of course, that depends on whether you consider new co-processors a ‘major upgrade,’ not to mention whether this report has much merit to begin with.

The most recent report regarding new MacBooks – from the very same outlet – seems to completely contradict this, with word that Apple could phase out the 13-inch MacBook Air to make room for a new, 13-inch entry-level laptop without the Touch Bar. Apple itself has hinted that the most affordable MacBook Pro is the stand-in for the all but defunct MacBook Air.

Where does that leave us? Apple itself has promised a new Mac Pro, and we may well see a new 13-inch laptop similarly priced to the MacBook Air to fill that void. 

All that’s left, then, are refreshes for the MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook models, the former of which is sorely needed with models already outdated by the latest Intel 8th-generation processors. If the ‘at least three’ new Macs line from Bloomberg is to be taken to heart, the most likely to be skipped this year is the 12-inch MacBook, which isn’t as power-dependent as the MacBook Pro line.

At any rate, 2018 is already looking to be an exciting year for Mac and MacBook computers following a relative drought of updates and innovations for several years prior to late 2016.

  • At least one of these is bound to join the best Macs of 2018