Apple may have one last Intel Mac up its sleeve

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Apple may be getting a Mac ready for release that will use an Intel processor despite the transition to Apple Silicon, after a beta includes references to a 10-core Core i9 chip.

Apple is in the middle of a two-year transition of its entire Mac product line, migrating away from Intel-based Macs in favor of its own Apple Silicon. However, references in the latest macOS Big Sur 11.4 beta point to at least one last Mac update using Intel chips.

The reference to an unreleased 10-core Intel Core i9 processor in the beta, reported by MacRumors seemingly indicates there could be a new chip on the way, though further details about its capabilities were not offered in the report.

There also isn't any sign as to what Mac product it will be included within. Apple currently offers Intel chips in the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac, 16-inch MacBook Pro, and the Mac Pro, with the 27-inch iMac being the most likely candidate.

Of the three products, the 27-inch iMac is the only one currently configurable to a 10-core Core i9 chip, a 10th-gen version with a base clock of 3.6GHz and a Turbo Boost of up to 5.0GHz. While the 16-inch MacBook Pro is a good candidate for an update as well, given it uses an 8-core Core i9 at its highest, the iMac is more likely.

The other two models are not great candidates for the chip. The 21.5-inch iMac is offered with the choice of only one Core i5 chip, while the Mac Pro line exclusively uses Xeon processors.

There have been rumors of a compact version of the Mac Pro, shrinking the workstation into a smaller form as shown in renders from February 2021. While a step away from Xeon, this could be another potential venue for the use of such a processor, if the product is genuine.

While Apple could launch updated models of its remaining Macs with Apple Silicon at any time, it is plausible that Apple's potentially last Intel update could be a way to appease those who simply can't or won't move over to the new architecture. This may be the case of some software that is too old or isn't actively being developed to run on Apple Silicon, which could the case for some business tools.

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