It’s no secret that Apple has spent a lot of time and money in the iPhone’s first decade moving more and more of the architecture to custom silicon that they design themselves. This covers the iPad too of course and it reached a level of zen-like completeness with the Apple Watch and its S1 system-on-a-chip.
So it is perhaps no big surprise, but definitely fascinating, to see the same change begin to occur with the Mac, and where this is going is the subject of much speculation.
It began with the MacBook Pro’s introduction of the Touch Bar, which I personally find I rarely use or even notice though the technical achievement is admirable. Apple developed a custom chip, the T1, to handle the Touch Bar but it also handles a lot of the security associated with the laptop including Touch ID and the Secure Enclave for fingerprint data. Ars Technica wrote a great piece on the T1 if you want to learn more.
Which brings us to the T2 chip inside the new iMac Pro. Most reviews have focused, not unreasonably, on the performance of this beast with its multi-core latest generation Xeon processors. Also on its ridonculous price, starting at $5,000 and available in BTO configurations up to a cool $13,000.
Jason Snell has a great write-up on the multiple duties the T2 is handling, including thermal management, disk controller, audio management, FaceTime camera and more.
Now this could end up being nothing more than Apple wanting to simplify and control even more of the bare metal of Macs, just as they have been doing with iOS devices. But it could also intriguingly be much more than that – anything from the ability to run a more fully-featured version of iOS and its attendant apps all the way up to perhaps being on our way towards a fully ARM-based Mac.
This is going to be fun to watch in the next few years…