When will Apple put Intel’s Kaby Lake chips inside new Macs?

Mac users need a little certainty

Claims that Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors may not appear in new Macs until next year suggest Apple should take the time to take steps to reassure Mac users.

Mac users are worried about the future of the platform. They are unhappy that new Mac models have become less predictable than iPhones, and they can’t understand why PC makers will be shipping new Kaby Lake powered machines this year while Apple (it is claimed) will not.

What is Kaby Lake?

Demonstrated by Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich yesterday, Kaby Lake is an optimized version of the current Skylake chip. The seventh generation of the Core series, the 14-nanometer processor can play graphically demanding games like Overwatch without use of a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). Other enhancements:

  • Fully integrated support for USB-C Generation 2, (G2 USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3 support)
  • Native HDCP 2.2 support
  • 4K video support.

Krzanich told Intel IDF yesterday that the first devices to use these new processors will ship this fall. The range includes desktop CPUs, Intel Core i3/i5/i7 laptop CPUs and new Core M chipsets. It also includes server processors.

Why not Macs?

Apple introduced its new MacBook range in April, so it makes sense for the company to delay introduction of new models right now, if only to avoid alienating recent MacBook purchasers. Intel’s Core M7-7Y75 chip (part of the new Kaby Lake series) is almost custom-made for MacBooks once Apple does decide to adopt it.

“According to an old Intel roadmap, Kaby Lake chips appropriate for use in the MacBook Pro, the iMac, and the Mac mini won't launch until the very end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017, meaning any Apple machines released in the fall of 2016 may be limited to Skylake chips,” MacRumors explains.

The problem is the only new Mac that people think may appear this year is one of those the new Intel chip isn’t available for yet, the MacBook Pro. If you believe the rumors, this is getting Touch ID and an OLED touch panel, and if you believe MacRumors it won’t get the new Intel chip.

The great divide

Chatter and speculation like this shows the huge divide that’s opening up between Apple and loyal Mac users, particularly in the pro markets.

Some argue that Apple hasn’t even kept up in those Macs it does have available: “The only Apple laptop computer with the sixth generation Skylake processor is the 2016 12-inch MacBook. The Mid 2015 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro uses the fourth generation Haswell processor. The late 2015 iMac has Skylake desktop-class processors,” says AppleInsider.

Many Mac users feel a little abandoned, while Apple’s focus on developing iOS-like features for “macOS” hasn’t really served to minimize their fears. They ask if Apple has lost interest in the Mac? Has Apple’s focus on iPads as the future of PCs cost the world its Mac?

Need for certainty

Perhaps it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to be a genius to notice that Apple has been relatively quiet in terms of new hardware product launches this year – as we head toward fall we are anticipating new product introductions across its existing product range, iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watch.

We have to accept that in the current market even Apple users can’t upgrade everything, and with the hard sell of the headphone-jack-free iPhone 7 ahead of it Apple surely wants to focus attention on its profitable new smartphone.

Apple is also thought to be plotting an iPad announcement in October/November. The future of the PC this may be an optimal point to announce its future PCs, most likely shipping them in early 2017. If it plans to upgrade Macs only in 2017 then there is an opening to deploy the new Intel chip. Or another one.

Apple’s macOS illustrates its continued commitment to the OS, but the decline in Mac sales means I think Mac users deserve more certainty. And it really is time to upgrade the Mac Pro.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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