The Apple switching from Intel to Arm processors rumour goes back a very long way. Checking back in the HEXUS archives I see the first time we considered this rumour newsworthy was back in 2011. For context, Apple announced the changeover from PowerPC to Intel processors in June 2005, with the first such computers becoming available early in 2006. HEXUS reviewed one of those early Intel powered Macs, the Apple Mac Mini Core Duo back in June 2006.
Back to the news du jour, and MacRumours has pondered over a research note penned by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a renowned Apple-focussed analyst at KGI Securities in Taiwan. The note is summed up in our headline - Apple will launch several Arm-based Mac laptops and desktops next year. This timescale actually represents a slight slip, as Kuo had previously pencilled in Q4 2020 / Q1 2021 as the likely launch time. Apple was at CES in 2020, for the first time in many years, so perhaps it will repeat its presence in 2021 with these new Macs, all being well.
The source site reports that Apple's switch to Arm-based processors will allow it to refresh its computer range without waiting for Intel's processor roadmap to be realised. Furthermore, bringing another aspect of production on board, another vertical, will save costs for Apple and provide better product differentiation as customers routinely weigh up the options of Apple Mac vs PC.
Kuo provided a few more details about the Arm-switchover. A partnership with ASMedia Technology is expected to be required for adding USB4 (in simple terms equivalent to Thunderbolt 3 but royalty free) to Arm-based Macs. However this upgraded physical connectivity standard won't be ready until 2020, it is thought.
If you are concerned about the processing power on offer, Apple's latest iPad is powered by a performance-binned octa-core A12Z Bionic which is claimed to deliver faster performance than "most PC laptops available today". By the time Apple is launching its Arm-powered laptops and desktops we can be sure that CPU and GPU performance of its SoCs will have stepped up further. They might use a version of the upcoming 5nm A14 SoC fabricated by TSMC, or perhaps we will be at A15 by then. Add into the mix some custom tuning with higher power budgets and it will be very interesting to see comparisons against contemporary PC laptop / desktop designs.