Apple’s 2021 Mac CPU roadmap reportedly includes 32-core chips

You might see leaps forward in mid-tier systems, too. Apple is said to be designing chips for higher-end MacBook Pros and iMacs with as many as 16 high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. There’s a chance that Apple might stick with eight or 12 cores depending on chip production capabilities, but you’d see these chips as early as the spring and continuing through the fall.

And yes, Apple is apparently keen to improve graphics performance as well. The company is believed to be testing 16- and 32-core GPUs for iMacs and higher-end MacBook Pros. Its highest-end desktops, meanwhile, might get 64- and 128-core GPUs that could be “several times” quicker than the AMD graphics in current Intel-based models. You’d have to wait until late 2021 or 2022 to see those most advanced visuals, however.

There are many unanswered questions. How well does Apple’s ARM-based architecture translate to high-performance computers? Will there be dedicated GPUs, significantly higher RAM capacities and (on the Mac Pro) PCIe slots? Apple’s M1 is often faster than comparable Intel chips and sometimes outperforms AMD’s, but there’s no guarantee future CPUs will outrun their x86 equivalents.

Apple might claim an edge in the laptop space. At present, AMD and Intel laptop processors top out at eight cores. That’s bound to change, but Apple could shake up the industry if it delivers 12- or 16-core chips before its rivals. They could be faster for multithreaded apps and otherwise offer performance you might not expect in current portables. It’s safe to say Apple has high hopes, if these leaks are accurate — it wants to beat the competition in some respects, not just keep pace.