Originally Posted by SockRolid
Apple bought PA Semi just for their chip design talent back in 2008. It cost Apple $278 million, and now their investment is finally starting to pay off. The A5 chip is the fastest mobile SoC on the market, it runs cool, it is economical with battery power, and it costs Apple far less than an off-the-shelf chip from, say, Intel.
We really dont know how much PA Semi tech made it into A5. Fact is we don't know much at all about the A5. It is however an obvious advantage for Apple.
And down the road, it's not out of the realm of possibility for Apple to unify its Mac and iOS device hardware to all use some quad-or 6-core ARM variant.
I'd say that is extremely remote. What people seem to mis here are a few very important things that have made Mac acceptable. One is X86 compatibility. Like it or not being able to run Windows on a VM is a valuable thing. Second many of your Mac users are professionals and thus need fast machines. ARM is pathetically slow when put up against an Intel implementation. Third ARM is currently a 32 bit platform. For many common Mac apps, 32 bit is becoming useless.
However we should not dismiss consumer machines using ARM chips. However I can't see Apple calling these Macs.
Especially for portables like the MacBook Air. Of course, that would require porting Mac OS X to the AX chip of the future. But don't forget that Mac OS X ran on RISC chips from the start. Been there, done that transition.
There is really little to port now. In any event I would imagine Apple jeeps Mac OS/X running on several architectures as a normal part of keeping the code base solid. Not to mention is the fact that the kernel and many of the libraries used on iOS are the same as those built for Mac OS/X.
Sadly people seem to think there is a huge gulf between the two OS's. That has really never been the case, each builds upon what is learned in the other. The differences there are to support entirely different usage patterns, security and marketing.
If I were to make a silly wild-ass guess, I'd say that Apple will be quietly developing the RISC-based AX version of Mac OS quietly. They'll sit back and watch Microsoft botch their attempt to port Windows 8 to Tegra. It'll be buggy, the Tegra chip will run hot, and laptops running the combination will get poor battery life. And as we've seen, Microsoft has a poor track record of providing apps with backward compatibility. Two words: "XP Mode."
While I suspect that Mac OS/X already runs on ARM I see zero incentive for Apple to try to market such devices. It is far easier to grow iOS in a different direction and keep marketing simple. Right now the consumer has a clear distinction between iOS devices and Macs, apple really shouldn't muddy the waters.
Apple could watch the Windows 8 + Tegra dumpster fire to get out of control, then drop the bomb. Mac OS 11 running on 4- and 6-core AX chips, Grand Central Dispatch balancing the load perfectly, MacBooks running as cool as iPads with enormously long battery life, apps running fat binaries just like they did in the 68k to PowerPC and the PowerPC to Intel transitions.
And running pathetically slow with little capability to tackle the bigger jobs. I just don't think you have an understanding of just how far behind ARM is performance wise, such machines would simply not meet the performance needs of many Mac users.
Again though I'm not dismissing that future iOS devices might have capability beyond today's iPad and target the consummer with simpler needs. Rather the point is why would Apple muddy up the marketing between the Macs and iOS devices. If or when Apple comes out with more iOS devices I can't see them going after the Mac market with them.
Look at it this way, the iPad is a massive success, however it hasn't impacted Mac sales at all yet. The reason in my mind is that they service different needs and markets.
Should be fun to watch.
Well if it ever happens. The netbook market was a flash in the pan due to poor performance measured in a number of ways. I don't see ARM bringing anything special to this market.