The transition from Intel to Apple processors started more than two years ago, but it turns out that the CPU and GPU weren’t all that Apple was replacing. As the new M2 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro show, Apple is going all-in with its its own chips.
In an iFixit teardown earlier this month of the new MacBook Air, iFixit calls out, “A seemingly Apple-made Thunderbolt 3 driver, instead of the Intel chips we’re familiar with.” Turns out that that driver replaces the last vestige of Intel chips used by Apple in its laptops, according to a tweet by @SkyJuice60. (@SkyJuice60’s Twitter bio states that it is the founder of Angstronomics, which covers the semiconductor industry.)
It appears that the new MacBook Air is the first Apple laptop to feature these new Thunderbolt drivers. Other laptops still use Intel drivers, such as the 14-inch MacBook Pro, according to an iFixit teardown. But chances are Apple will be using its own drivers in the M2 updates to the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro that may be arriving in just a few short months.
Not all of the chips in the MacBook Air are made by Apple. The company is still using chips from Texas Instruments, Nexperia, and Samsung, among others. These chips are “smaller” than the CPU, GPU, and Thunderbolt driver, so it’s unlikely that Apple would not be interested in replacing all of them. But as the Thunderbolt drivers show, the Apple silicon transition is about both big and small chips alike.