First and foremost, let us make it clear that this story is not about Apple moving to replace the Intel Core CPUs currently found across its Mac lineup. Bloomberg reports from sources within Apple that a new in-house chip will take over some ancillary functions from the main processor. The new chip is codenamed T310 and said to be related to the T1 chip that powers the graphical Touch Bar on high-end MacBook Pro laptops.
In addition to its Touch Bar duties, the existing T1 chip takes care of security authentication and stores biometric and payment data from the machine's fingerprint reader. Bloomberg speculates that the T310 will take over those tasks, and manage activities that take place in Apple's "Power Nap" sleep state. Existing devices rely on the Intel CPU to perform jobs like checking email, installing software updates, and synchronizing schedule information while the computer is asleep. Shifting these jobs away from a general purpose CPU to a more specialized piece of hardware could potentially save power and extend stand-by times.
The Touch Bar's T1 and the rumored T310 are certainly not Apple's first foray into chip design. The company has been using in-house silicon designs in iOS devices since the 2010 introduction of the company's A4 SoC. Bloomberg's sources said the new chips could start appearing in refreshed MacBook Pro machines later this year.