The move from Intel to Apple processors started more than two years ago, but it turns out that the CPU and GPU weren’t the only thing Apple was replacing. As the new M2 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro show, Apple is going all-in with its own chips.
In an iFixit teardown of the new MacBook Air earlier this month, iFixit calls out, “An apparently Apple-made Thunderbolt 3 driver, rather than the Intel chips we know.” Turns out that driver is replacing the last remnant of Intel chips used by Apple in its laptops, according to a tweet from @SkyJuice60. (@SkyJuice60’s Twitter bio states that it is the founder of Angstronomics, which covers the semiconductor industry.)
It looks like the new MacBook Air is the first Apple laptop with these new Thunderbolt drivers. Other laptops still use Intel drivers, such as the 14-inch MacBook Pro, according to an iFixit teardown. But there’s a good chance Apple will use its own drivers in the M2 updates for the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro, which may arrive in a few months.
Not all of the chips in the MacBook Air are made by Apple. The company still uses chips from Texas Instruments, Nexperia and Samsung, among others. These chips are “smaller” than the CPU, GPU, and Thunderbolt driver, so it’s unlikely Apple wouldn’t want to replace them all. But as the Thunderbolt drivers show, the Apple silicon transition is across both large and small chips.