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Technology

Apple showcases first MacBooks with self-designed M1 chip

Arm-based CPU offers California-based firm with alternative to Intel semiconductors

Apple's three new Mac computers begin at a price of $699. (Photo courtesy of Apple)

PALO ALTO, U.S.-- Apple unveiled Tuesday a new MacBook lineup powered by the company's first in-house-designed chip for Mac, the M1, an important shift by the American tech giant as it replaces Intel CPUs used in previous models.

In a livestream from its Cupertino, California headquarters, company executives introduced the M1 -- designed by Apple and based on Arm Holdings technology -- and three new Mac computers powered by the first Apple silicon: a new MacBook Air laptop, a new 13-inch MacBook Pro laptop, and Mac mini desktop computer.

The company said the M1 will be the first personal computer chip built using the five-nanometer process technology, which is considered the world's most advanced chip manufacturing technology. Like its latest iPhone processor chips, the M1 will be produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Nikkei Asia previously reported.

The in-house-designed processor will give Macs an industry-leading performance per watt, Apple said, meaning the new computers will have much longer battery life and higher-performance graphics processing units.

The new Mac mini desk computer starts at $699, while the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro start from $999 and $1,299, respectively. All three models are available to order and will begin shipping next week.

Apple made the announcement about the switch from Intel's processors to Apple silicon for its Mac lineups at its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this year.

"The transition to Apple silicon will take about two years to complete, and these three systems are an amazing first step," Apple said Tuesday.

Nikkei Asia reported exclusively last week that Apple is aiming to make 2.5 million units of Apple silicon-powered MacBooks by early next year.

The company is slated to introduce other MacBook models using its own CPUs in the second quarter of next year, further replacing Intel's microprocessors, sources told Nikkei Asia.

Apple's move to introduce its own Arm-based processor chips for MacBook will be a blow to Intel, whose X-86 technology has dominated the PC industry for decades.

Apple ranked No. 4 in PC sales last year, behind Lenovo Group, HP and Dell. Apple shipped 17.68 million personal computers in 2019, accounting for 6.6% of global market share, according to data from IDC.

Intel shares dropped 2.5% during midday trading Tuesday after the Apple's announcement.

Apple has seen a surge of demand for its computer products this year with Mac revenue jumping 11% year-over-year in the past 12 months ended September.

"Apple continues to see a tidal wave of demand for its iPad and Macs as more consumers expect to see the work-from-home trend continue for the foreseeable future, adding further importance to today's virtual event for investors," Dan Ives, managing director at Wedbush Securities said in a note to clients on Tuesday.

"M1 chip announcement signals Apple taking more control of its hardware ecosystem," he added.

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