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Rumor: Apple plans to move laptops from Intel to ARM processors

post #1 of 157
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A new rumor claims that Apple plans to ditch Intel processors to instead adopt the ARM architecture currently found in devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Apple's alleged move to ARM processors is expected to take place "as soon as possible," likely when 64-bit variations are available at the end of 2012 or by early 2013, according to SemiAccurate (via MacRumors. The site is run by Charlie Demerjian, previous editor of U.K. tabloid The Inquirer.)

Though SemiAccurate is not a frequent source of Apple rumors, the site did report in July 2009 that Apple was moving away from Nvidia chipsets at a gradual pace. Currently, Apple's new MacBook Pros and iMacs exclusively feature AMD Radeon graphics, or Intel's integrated option.

In addition to laptops, the report said that Apple would "presumably" be looking to move its desktop Macs to ARM architecture as well. It characterized the transition to Apple-made chips for its line of computers as a "done deal."

"Now you realize why Apple is desperately searching for fab capacity from Samsung, Global Foundries, and TSMC," the report said. "Intel doesn't know about this particular change of heart yet, which is why they are dropping all the hints about wanting Apple as a foundry customer. Once they realize Apple will be fabbing ARM chips at the expense of x86 parts, they may not be so eager to provide them wafers on advanced processes."

The rumor comes just days after a report indicated that Intel could be interested in building mobile chips for Apple, like the A5 processor found in the iPad 2. Intel currently makes the CPUs powering Apple's notebooks and desktops, but Apple has turned to ARM processors for a range of devices, including its iPods, Airport base stations, and iOS devices, including the new Apple TV.



Apple even entered the chip designing business starting with the A4 processor that powers the iPhone 4 and first-generation iPad. Apple gained the ability to design its own systems-on-a-chip through the acquisition of PA Semi for $278 million in 2008.

Even Microsoft has plans for the ARM architecture in the future, as mobile devices offer longer battery life with the low-power chips. The Redmond, Wash., software giant revealed at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that the next version of its desktop operating system, Windows 8, will run on the ARM's architecture.
post #2 of 157
Booooogus!
post #3 of 157
Bogus indeed!!
This guy doesn't know what he is talking about

Apple is just finishing the transition from PowerPC to x86 systems with the release of Lion.
It has taken Apple more than 4 years to do so...

and there where good reasons to switch to x86.
Going for AMD would be an option maybe
post #4 of 157
Pretty sure this would kill products like VMWare, which IMHO has encouraged a ton of sales for Mac.
post #5 of 157
This is highly dubious, unless they want to make iOS laptops. Essentially an iPad with a keyboard attached.
post #6 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A new rumor claims that Apple plans to ditch Intel processors to instead adopt the ARM architecture currently found in devices like the iPhone and iPad.

A lot of people buy MB and MBP as replacement for MS Windows machines, just to install and work on Vista/7, because they want to work in their familiar software, and some programs do not have a native equivalentto the OSX platform, such as Autodesk 3DS MAX , AutoCAD. Who ever tried the OSX version of AutoCAD already knows that this is not the same application on another system platform, just a different, less a running program, with fewer functions...

Looking at how many people shifted a Windows box for a Mac, I think most of them did so only because they have the ability to install an operating system as on a "typical PC" which is at this point almost every Mac ... - only with better components, etc. ..
I use the MBP 17 "2011, only due to screen size and battery, but for the most part working on Windows.
post #7 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Though SemiAccurate is not a frequent source of Apple rumors, the site did report in July 2009 that Apple was moving away from Nvidia chipsets at a gradual pace. Currently, Apple's new MacBook Pros and iMacs exclusively feature AMD Radeon graphics, or Intel's integrated option.

I seem to recall Apple cycling between Nvidia and AMD(ATI) for there discrete GPUs on several occasions.
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post #8 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A new rumor claims that Apple plans to ditch Intel processors to instead adopt the ARM architecture currently found in devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Apple's alleged move to ARM processors is expected to take place "as soon as possible," likely when 64-bit variations are available at the end of 2012 or by early 2013, according to SemiAccurate (via MacRumors. The site is run by Charlie Demerjian, previous editor of U.K. tabloid The Inquirer.

In addition to laptops, the report said that Apple would "presumably" be looking to move its desktop Macs to ARM architecture as well. It characterized the transition to Apple-made chips for its line of computers as a "done deal."

"Now you realize why Apple is desperately searching for fab capacity from Samsung, Global Foundries, and TSMC," the report said. "Intel doesn't know about this particular change of heart yet, which is why they are dropping all the hints about wanting Apple as a foundry customer. Once they realize Apple will be fabbing ARM chips at the expense of x86 parts, they may not be so eager to provide them wafers on advanced processes."


Apple even entered the chip designing business starting with the A4 processor that powers the iPhone 4 and first-generation iPad. Apple gained the ability to design its own systems-on-a-chip through the acquisition of PA Semi for $278 million in 2008.

Even Microsoft has plans for the ARM architecture in the future, as mobile devices offer longer battery life with the low-power chips. The Redmond, Wash., software giant revealed at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that the next version of its desktop operating system, Windows 8, will run on the ARM's architecture.

so...from what i understand atom (newer ones) is 2-3 times after than A5.

they are saying that ARM CPU's will be able ot make the jump from 30-40% of Atom to over I-core or Phenom (and bulldozer i believe) performance?!?? in 3 years... because they want more people to make ARM CPU's for their products, which are in super high demand VS supply.

i guess if you want 0 professional users, or higher end business users (that 5-10+ applications at once) i don't see this happening... at least not to MBP

i could imagine a weaker white MB with cheaper price-- and a merged iOS/OSX to allow it to run seemingly "fast" on a ARM CPU... otherwise i think it is BS

PC means personal computer.  

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PC means personal computer.  

i have processing issues, mostly trying to get my ideas into speech and text.

if i say something confusing please tell me!

Reply
post #9 of 157
A5 most certainly is a fantastic chip, but it ain't no i7.

Is it still April 1???
post #10 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A new rumor claims that Apple plans to ditch Intel processors to instead adopt the ARM architecture currently found in devices like the iPhone and iPad.

I find this incredibly difficult to believe except for possibly a case for a Mac Book Air type machine.

ARM's biggest strength is not raw horsepower it is in low energy consumption, low heat. The kind of computing power being delivered by even the older core 2 Intel chips would require a major change in the way the ARM works. If huge advances have been made in parallelism required to run a large number of cores then maybe you could do something cool with a many-multicore ARM chip.

Doing things on multiple cores has turned out to be one of the biggest issues for software developers and systems folks. Taking a single task and breaking it down into the small chunks that can then all run efficiently to give you the kind of gain you need is no small feat. Intel, IBM, SUN and many others have long known how to put many chips together or build a machine with multiple processors. That has not been an issue for the last two decades. It is learning how to manage the resources at hand so that you get a real return for your investment.
post #11 of 157
I agree guys...I don't buy this one.
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post #12 of 157
Disinformation put out by Samsung to try to drive a wedge between Apple and Intel?
post #13 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

Pretty sure this would kill products like VMWare, which IMHO has encouraged a ton of sales for Mac.

I don't buy this rumor at all, but not because of things like VMWare or Parallels. Microsoft already showed Windows 8 running on an ARM chip, so virtualization would still work with that.
post #14 of 157
redonkulous
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post #15 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

Pretty sure this would kill products like VMWare, which IMHO has encouraged a ton of sales for Mac.

I don't see why if Windows 8 runs on ARM.

I think this is inevitable and reasonable within the next few years. The A5 could probably already make a decent ultra compact laptop.
post #16 of 157
Can't see it happening. But I have often wondered if the Air could include an A5 (secondary to the x86) for a low power operation mode... Not sure how practical it would be, but apple could make it work if anyone can
post #17 of 157
Ridiculous. Apple has worked diligently to make sure that they have the fastest mobile chip available in MacBooks (consistent with power consumption). They already have 10 hour battery life on most models, so there's no major driving force to change - and even if the CPU drew ZERO power, battery life wouldn't double.

In exchange for a largely meaningless improvement in battery life (are you going to buy a computer with 14 hour battery life but not the same computer with 10 hour life?), performance would suffer greatly. Plus, you wouldn't be able to run any apps other than the iOS apps (no Microsoft Office, for example).

Ain't gonna happen.
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post #18 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

I don't see why if Windows 8 runs on ARM.

I think this is inevitable and reasonable within the next few years. The A5 could probably already make a decent ultra compact laptop.

do you mean a netbook?

PC means personal computer.  

i have processing issues, mostly trying to get my ideas into speech and text.

if i say something confusing please tell me!

Reply

PC means personal computer.  

i have processing issues, mostly trying to get my ideas into speech and text.

if i say something confusing please tell me!

Reply
post #19 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

I find this incredibly difficult to believe except for possibly a case for a Mac Book Air type machine.

ARM's biggest strength is not raw horsepower it is in low energy consumption, low heat. The kind of computing power being delivered by even the older core 2 Intel chips would require a major change in the way the ARM works. If huge advances have been made in parallelism required to run a large number of cores then maybe you could do something cool with a many-multicore ARM chip.

Doing things on multiple cores has turned out to be one of the biggest issues for software developers and systems folks. Taking a single task and breaking it down into the small chunks that can then all run efficiently to give you the kind of gain you need is no small feat. Intel, IBM, SUN and many others have long known how to put many chips together or build a machine with multiple processors. That has not been an issue for the last two decades. It is learning how to manage the resources at hand so that you get a real return for your investment.

Huge advances have been made: Grand Central Dispatch and language level support for closures. Apple is rapidly adding support for GCD and closures throughout their frameworks to make it easy for developers to create multicore friendly apps. For video applications, Apple has segmentation features in Compressor to chop up video in chunks to encode separately and then stitch them back together. Many of the changes required to make a multi-core chip work well will just would face trouble in the Windows world. Apple controls the whole stack so they can and are making this work.
post #20 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

I don't see why if Windows 8 runs on ARM.

I think this is inevitable and reasonable within the next few years. The A5 could probably already make a decent ultra compact laptop.

What is the connection between running Windows or OS X on ARM and virtualization?
post #21 of 157
I guess they just let anyone be a 'journalist'. \
post #22 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

I don't see why if Windows 8 runs on ARM.

I think this is inevitable and reasonable within the next few years. The A5 could probably already make a decent ultra compact laptop.

This.

And the fact that Apple/NeXT has ported this OS from 68K to Intel (92), SPARC, PA-RISC, back to PowerPC, and then to Intel again, as well as built iOS/ARM as a subset of the current OSX offering.

No one buys mac for it's emulation power... they buy it for the ability to run Mac apps. iOS is proving that it's the APPS that sell devices... and if you have some 200Million iOS users, wouldn't it be nice to have a way for those app developers and users to work with a more 'universal' binary?

With MS porting to ARM, Apple's timing makes sense, in a performance/price curve. If high end ARM chips are demanded by 300Million devices a year... the price per chipset drops... at best putting pressure on Intel/AMD to improve it's pricing/delivery, and at worst, driving the inevitable bottom up migration from phones to pads to laptops to desktops to servers to mainframes.

So with this lead time, Apple is likely just firing a shot over the bow of Intel: 'Want the 3rd largest 'pc' maker to continue using Intel chips.... Make them to our specs, at our price, and at our timeline... or run the risk of losing our business in 2 years [and remember, this is like commodities... the pricing/capacity has to be planned out 2 years in advance.... the timing of this makes total sense]'.
post #23 of 157
You are basing your entire opinion on this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicolbolas View Post

so...from what i understand atom (newer ones) is 2-3 times after than A5. ...

... which is not true and basically just marketing talk from intel.
post #24 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

What is the connection between running Windows or OS X on ARM and virtualization?

Virtualization requires the same processor architecture. So an x86 version of Windows could be virtualized on an x86 version of OS X or an ARM version of WIndows could be virtualized on an ARM version of OSX. An x86 version of Windows can not be run on an ARM version of OS X though.

There is also emulation. That would allow an x86 version of Windows to run on an ARM version of OS X, but that is really slow.

You can also recompile your executables on the fly for a new architecture like with Apple's Rosetta software. That technique may not carry over to virtualization so well without heavy support from Microsoft however.
post #25 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

What is the connection between running Windows or OS X on ARM and virtualization?

If there already exists Windows OS code in native ARM binary format, then it should be a lot easier to virtualize. Otherwise you would need to create a whole virtual x86 emulator - a much larger task.
post #26 of 157
I could see the reasoning, but it would be like the PowerPC days all over again.
post #27 of 157
First you make an article on Apple switching from Samsung to Intel to create chips, then you make an article on Apple switching away from Intel on chips. I'm so amazed by how hard you try to generate clicks by trying to dip both (baseless) sides.
post #28 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicolbolas View Post

so...from what i understand atom (newer ones) is 2-3 times after than A5.

they are saying that ARM CPU's will be able ot make the jump from 30-40% of Atom to over I-core or Phenom (and bulldozer i believe) performance?!?? in 3 years... because they want more people to make ARM CPU's for their products, which are in super high demand VS supply.

i guess if you want 0 professional users, or higher end business users (that 5-10+ applications at once) i don't see this happening... at least not to MBP

i could imagine a weaker white MB with cheaper price-- and a merged iOS/OSX to allow it to run seemingly "fast" on a ARM CPU... otherwise i think it is BS

Atom performs poorly compared to other Intel processors on performance and poorly compared to ARM on power consumption. There is a reason Apple doesn't use it.

The ARM processors can scale horizontally. If it makes sense it will happen, otherwise it will likely only be used on the ultra portables since that is where it already performs well versus the competition.
post #29 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

Virtualization requires the same processor architecture. So an x86 version of Windows could be virtualized on an x86 version of OS X or an ARM version of WIndows could be virtualized on an ARM version of OSX. An x86 version of Windows can not be run on an ARM version of OS X though

Yap, I know, but Windows is not the only virtualized SO on Vmware, and I bet that even Windows XP is more used than 7
post #30 of 157
I think someone has some ARM stock they are looking to sell.
post #31 of 157
It might be a type of super ipad, lightweight and stripped down, but it wouldn't be called MacBook air or be called a notebook.

So it's BS.
post #32 of 157
Maybe Apple has a long term plan to do this. I, however, don't see it happening anytime soon. Further, Jobs is good friends with Intel's CEO Paul Otellini. I suspect Apple would be open to using Intel as a Foundry.
post #33 of 157
ARM chip can work in a Macbook Air, in about 3-4 years. But for iMac, Mac Mini and Macbook Pro, there just isn't enough processing power to justify it.

The only way I can see a unified chip line up happening, is if Intel finally get their act together and design an x86 that can compete in the mobile arena.
post #34 of 157
Running Windows on ARM is only part of the equation. You have to have the programs compiled so they will run on ARM. That was the problem back in the days of NT running on multiple chips. The hardware and OS was there but not any of the Apps. Emulation was a poor substitute.
post #35 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

Pretty sure this would kill products like VMWare, which IMHO has encouraged a ton of sales for Mac.

VMWare runs pretty well on the iPad...
post #36 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by drobforever View Post

First you make an article on Apple switching from Samsung to Intel to create chips, then you make an article on Apple switching away from Intel on chips. I'm so amazed by how hard you try to generate clicks by trying to dip both (baseless) sides.

They're just reporting on rumours. You call it dipping both sides for most clicks, everyone-else would call it being non-partisan.
post #37 of 157
Two points for the thread...

1) this could be crossed wires, I firmly believe Apple's next iOS device is a desktop, which is being mid-read as a tv and now as a mac. It will look a bit like an iMac, but way thinner and way cheaper. Perhaps the rumor source is confused.

2) consider the power consumption and footprint of an A5, why couldn't Apple put dual or even quad A6/A7 processors in a full blown Mac desktop or laptop. It not as if NeXTstep isn't portable, iOS is a stripped version of OSX.

And as a final step in point 2, why is it difficult to believe that Apple might be doing a large scale custom design of the A series. ARM chips originated on the desktop in the Acorn Archimedes and were evolved in partnership with Apple for the Newton. Scale em back up. Cluster them. GCD, OpenCL and OpenGL could handle it.

Consider Rosetta, Apple has a history of providing transitional abstraction and re-compile tools to help the likes of VMWare or whatever still run on new architecture.
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post #38 of 157
Yeah, this sounds like a pretty ridiculous rumor. The ARM chips are for mobile devices and are nowhere near as powerful as the Xeon chips in a Mac Pro or the i7 chips in the iMac. I don't see Apple transitioning their desktops to an ARM chip. I even doubt Apple would put this in their laptops, especially their high-end Macbook Pro.

As well, as many have said, you lose the option of Bootcamp (dual booting MacOS X & Windows). I'm not even sure how this would impact graphics cards?

That said, cv_starkman may be on the trail of something with point #1. Maybe this is a rumor about a new Apple device being misinterpreted.
post #39 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post

Two points for the thread...

1) this could be crossed wires, I firmly believe Apple's next iOS device is a desktop, which is being mid-read as a tv and now as a mac. It will look a bit like an iMac, but way thinner and way cheaper. Perhaps the rumor source is confused.

2) consider the power consumption and footprint of an A5, why couldn't Apple put dual or even quad A6/A7 processors in a full blown Mac desktop or laptop. It not as if NeXTstep isn't portable, iOS is a stripped version of OSX.

And as a final step in point 2, why is it difficult to believe that Apple might be doing a large scale custom design of the A series. ARM chips originated on the desktop in the Acorn Archimedes and were evolved in partnership with Apple for the Newton. Scale em back up. Cluster them. GCD, OpenCL and OpenGL could handle it.

Consider Rosetta, Apple has a history of providing transitional abstraction and re-compile tools to help the likes of VMWare or whatever still run on new architecture.

I thought about Mac OS Aqua being installed on iOS (read: OS X for ARM) that would be what the Motorola Atrix tried to be, except actually functional, but that seems like a lot of crossed wires I that is the case.
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post #40 of 157
With benchmark tests finding the iPad2 roughly to equal the performance of the Powerbook G4, it's already more than half way there. Future laptops... will probably be iPad Pro's.

Also, Apple is famous for not looking back, but instead looking forward. I'm sure they have great insight in the ARM vs x86 roadmaps, and their in house expertise too, for years to come.
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