The Mac Developer Transition Kit with Apple Silicon →

Like during the switch to Intel, Apple has put together a transition hardware kit for the move to ARM.

Like with Intel, this is not a product, and Apple was quick to note that it doesn’t represent what final hardware could look like. That said, here are the specs:

  • Apple A12Z Bionic (from the 2020 iPad Pros)
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 500 GB SSD
  • Two USB-C ports (up to 10 Gbps)
  • Two USB-A ports (up to 5 Gpbs)
  • HDMI 2.0 port
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit Ethernet

… all in a Mac mini case, as predicted.

The lack of Thunderbolt is interesting. As announced last year, Thunderbolt 3 will be rolled into USB 4. It’s unclear when USB 4 will be coming, so it may not be ready for this new class of Macs. In that case, I fully expect Apple to have Thunderbolt 3 support ready, or at least some fancy DisplayPort stuff to drive a 6k display.

Apple’s demo machines running on their own CPUs were using the Pro Display XDR, which require more than even the iMac Pro can give. While the USB-C Macs can push the display at 5K, that’s not a long-term solution.

(Another wrinkle here is high-speed Thunderbolt 3 accessories. While Apple may be able to drive the XDR with better graphics over USB-C, I don’t think they want to leave TB3 accessories behind.)

These ARM Mac minis are not available to the general public; Apple is taking applications from developers who are interested in paying $500 for the hardware:

Selected developers will receive a link to order the Universal App Quick Start Program from the online Apple Store. Priority will be given to applicants with an existing macOS application, as availability is limited.

I’m sure these machines comes with NDAs, but I am itching to hear how they run.