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are refreshes for the MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook models, the former of which is sorely needed with models already outdated by the latest Intel 8th-generation processors.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
Joe Osborne

Joe Osborne is the Senior Technology Editor at Insider Inc. His role is to leads the technology coverage team for the Business Insider Shopping team, facilitating expert reviews, comprehensive buying guides, snap deals news and more. Previously, Joe was TechRadar's US computing editor, leading reviews of everything from gaming PCs to internal components and accessories. In his spare time, Joe is a renowned Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master – and arguably the nicest man in tech.