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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Fun With Charts: Time for a change?

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

For this week’s chart1, I thought I’d illustrate how long Apple has historically stuck with different processor architectures. As you probably know, there are lots of reports that in the next year, Apple will begin to roll out Macs powered by its own ARM processors rather than those made by Intel. (Dan and I actually discussed it in depth on this week’s Six Colors podcast, which is available to all Six Colors subscribers.)

This wouldn’t be the Mac’s first processor transition. It’s already been through two, and I’ve been privileged to witness them both. The Motorola 68000 era lasted for the Mac’s first 12 years (non-PowerPC PowerBooks… lingered). In 1994, the PowerPC transition began, and Apple shipped Macs with PowerPC processors for 12 years.

At 14 years and counting, the Intel era is the longest in the Mac’s history. The transition was also the fastest—Apple really cleared out the PowerPC Macs in a hurry and replaced them with Intel models.

While it’s theoretically possible that Apple could swap every Mac model to ARM processors in 2021, it seems unlikely. You’ll probably be able to buy a new Mac running Intel chips into 2022, and possibly for many years after that. But it seems that change is coming (again) to the Mac.

  1. Technically, I already made a chart this week—and built it via a Shortcut

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