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Rumor: Apple testing new MacBook Air powered by same A5 processor as iPad 2

post #1 of 93
Thread Starter 
A new report claims that Apple has built a test MacBook Air powered by the same low-power A5 processor found in the iPad, and the company was impressed by the results.

The claims came on Friday from Japanese site Macotakara. Citing an anonymous source, it reported that Apple, in its internal labs, made "test equipment" of a new Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Air powered by an A5 processor.

"According to this source who saw live A5 MacBook Air actually, this test machine performed better than expected," the translation reads.

The report also noted it was "not clear" whether this system was running Apple's lightweight iOS operating system, found on the iPhone and iPad, or the full-fledged Mac OS X operating system. It also mentioned that a switch to a processor based on the ARM architecture would require developers to modify their existing applications.

Given the challenges that would come with a transition from Intel processors to an ARM-based CPU, the A5-powered MacBook Air was characterized as an "experiment." The hardware is said to have been built by Quanta Computer.

The latest rumor comes weeks after a separate report claimed that Apple is looking to transition its laptops to ARM processors "as soon as possible." That report claimed that Apple could switch to ARM processors for its laptops when 64-bit variations are available at the end of 2012 or by early 2013.



As the role of ARM CPUs for Apple has grown with the iPhone and iPad, Microsoft also 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 also run on ARM architecture.

Last December, Macotakara correctly reported that Apple's second-generation iPad would have a smaller bezel, a flat back panel, and a larger speaker. The site also revealed that Apple was planning an event to announced the iPad 2 in March.

The same site also joined a chorus of others in reporting that Apple will ship its fifth-generation iPhone later than usual this year. A report in March said that Apple was not yet ordering components for its fifth-generation iPhone, and that the anticipated device was not expected to contribute to Apple's fiscal 2011 bottom line. Apple's fiscal year 2011 concludes on Sept. 24, which would put a new iPhone launch in late September at the earliest.
post #2 of 93
I'm not buying apple will transition away from the intel architecture, there's just too much at stake and invested that would put everyone at risk to warrant the move. Besides, intel macs are performance wise equal or superior to windows based PC's.
post #3 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

I'm not buying apple will transition away from the intel architecture, there's just too much at stake and invested that would put everyone at risk to warrant the move. Besides, intel macs are performance wise equal or superior to windows based PC's.

You are right when does it end with all this new concepts from Apple? Stick with Intel and stop dicking around.

post #4 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

You are right when does it end with all this new concepts from Apple? Stick with Intel and stop dicking around.


We have to remember that Apple has hundreds of "experiments" in the labs that never see the light of day. This was probably just one of those "what if" moments the engineers had that, if developed, could be a good backup plan if things go sour with Intel or the ARM architecture eventually outperforms Intel's. So let's all breathe and realize that even if we do eventually see something like this, it's won't be for many, many years.
post #5 of 93
Not so sure why people are so against this, for a machine like the MacBook Air a custom designed chip and board would be a real benefit, think of the benefits that such control could give to Apple.

I doubt Apple would stop using Intel chips in the bulk of their computer line up.

Besides, we have Universal applications on our Mac's, no reason why overtime they could not support the Arm architecture.
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post #6 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

You are right when does it end with all this new concepts from Apple? Stick with Intel and stop dicking around.


Given that compiling to multiple architectures is an inherent part of the OS X design (NeXTstep was on 680x0, Intel, Sparc, MIPS; OS X on PPC, Intel, Arm (iOS)), and that for most applications you're a compile switch away from adding and Arm support (assuming you don't have a lot of actual assembly code tied in), it's not nearly as prohibitive as it is for some other companies. I suspect you'd see a fair number of native apps show up pretty quickly if Apple did release something like this.

Now whether it makes any sense, I don't know either - having an architecture that tops out at 32 bits currently doesn't sound like where they should move any actual OS X product, but it probably helps to keep the thumbscrews on Intel in terms of pricing negotiations and access to newer CPUs.
post #7 of 93
under Xcode, programming for OSX or iOS is fairly similar.
post #8 of 93
Would not this be a true combination of the two OS systems. The Air would be the perfect machine to do the full Lion.
Either way. Apple will continue looking for ways to separate themselves completely from all the others.
post #9 of 93
Just like hybrid cars, Apple could introduce a hybrid MBA, where all web browsing etc. could be done automagically with the onbard ARM chip, saving power. Once you open photoshop, the MBA could fire up the intel chip...
post #10 of 93
Quote:
...a new Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Air powered by an A5 processor.

I think that right there is enough to discredit the rumor. Thunderbolt is welded to Intel's x86 chipset.
post #11 of 93
Just hope the folks at Intel take this seriously and come up with an even better processor for the next MBA!
post #12 of 93
Maybe it would happen some day, but I don't think at this point it could be a wise move for Apple to bring a third new platform (iOS,MacOSX Intel, MacOSX ARM), Apple already got so much to do with iOS device. That doesnt mean Apple havent build a ARM prototype yet but I think going back to SoC with 512 meg of ram is not feasible for running actual MacOS X software
post #13 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by must View Post

Just like hybrid cars, Apple could introduce a hybrid MBA, where all web browsing etc. could be done automagically with the onbard ARM chip, saving power. Once you open photoshop, the MBA could fire up the intel chip...

I remember they used to say that back in the pre-OSX days, about intel chips and Motorola chips. They could put one of each processor in there and....
post #14 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I think that right there is enough to discredit the rumor. Thunderbolt is welded to Intel's x86 chipset.

well spotted!
post #15 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

Not so sure why people are so against this

Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

Windows on bootcamp. Even if MS produces an ARM version of Windows, you'd still have millions and millions of people with legacy software they would not want to re-purchase.

That's one.

Also, I wonder if people are conflating "64 bit" with a performance benchmark. The 64bit ARM chips will still pale beside the power of intel's Core2 chips.
post #16 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I think that right there is enough to discredit the rumor. Thunderbolt is welded to Intel's x86 chipset.

++++++
post #17 of 93
Bookmarked.

When the new MBA is released in the next several weeks, it'll be fun to come back and see how completely full of crap this "anonymous source" was.

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   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

  MA497LL/A FB463LL/A MC572LL/A FC060LL/A MD481LL/A MD388LL/A ME344LL/A

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post #18 of 93
Oh, great. Another set of dual-binary OS'.

Which is why this rumor is crap.

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post #19 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post

That's one.

Also, I wonder if people are conflating "64 bit" with a performance benchmark. The 64bit ARM chips will still pale beside the power of intel's Core2 chips.

I think the performance worries are overstated. Apple has done a LOT to design osx and apps developed for it offload work off to te gpu. Besides these are tests for the air, which was never a performance powerhouse.

Additionally, this will most certainly be at least a few years off, by when apple should have faster arm processors. Let's not forget that a much weaker and poorer apple had been developing parallely on intel for over 5 years before deploying intel chips.

The way I see it, Apple will create development airs which they will give out to deva Roger this or the next wwdc an tell them to make sure their apps wok on both, and then deploy a few ARM based macs over the next couple o years.

I doubt more than a very small percentage of air users are dual booting windows.
post #20 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

Windows on bootcamp. Even if MS produces an ARM version of Windows, you'd still have millions and millions of people with legacy software they would not want to re-purchase.

Yep. The rise of virtual machines and the ability to dual-boot to hardware level Windows has really helped the growth of Mac sales. Lose that ability to switch between the two and Mac sales plummet. In the corporate world, sometimes you have to have Windows and/or Internet Explorer.

The dual chip approach is interesting, though. OS X for ARM and Intel on the HD. OS dynamically engages whichever CPU is most appropriate. Toss in native iOS and you could have an interesting Franken-computer that would be totally unfocussed, confusing to consumers, and complicated to engineer. Great bit of engineering, but I don't think practical.

- Jasen.
post #21 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A new report claims that Apple has built a test MacBook Air powered by the same low-power A5 processor found in the iPad, and the company was impressed by the results.

"According to this source who saw live A5 MacBook Air actually, this test machine performed better than expected," the translation reads.

A5 is a 1.0 GHz and is brand new, Core 2 Duo is 1.4 GHz and fairly old by processor standards. Depending on how much apple can optimize OSx for A5 processors it is not hard to see similar performance, especially on lighter apps like Word Processing or web browsing (aside from flash of course). Sandy bridge is another story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The report also noted it was "not clear" whether this system was running Apple's lightweight iOS operating system, found on the iPhone and iPad, or the full-fledged Mac OS X operating system. It also mentioned that a switch to a processor based on the ARM architecture would require developers to modify their existing applications.

If I remember correctly iOS has OSx kernel with modified UI Cocoa Touch instead of Cocoa, which should not be too hard a transition. That is the genius of iOS, it can receive improvements from desktop OS much faster then any other mobile OS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Given the challenges that would come with a transition from Intel processors to an ARM-based CPU, the A5-powered MacBook Air was characterized as an "experiment." The hardware is said to have been built by Quanta Computer.

Not really. OSx kernel already runs on ARM via iOS, I am sure that technical feasibility to do this has been around since snow leopard at the latest. It's just that a single core A4 would not have been able to handle the task. A5 apparently can.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

As the role of ARM CPUs for Apple has grown with the iPhone and iPad, Microsoft also 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 also run on ARM architecture.

And office will be the only program available for it.
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post #22 of 93
I think this transition will be done for their consumer products only. Most consumers nowadays just buy MacBook Pros as their laptop even though they don't need the raw speed it offers. They don't really need those special intel instruction sets and they don't need CPU enhancements for multimedia encoding and decoding.

They want battery life. They want a snappy interface. They want to run Safari/Firefox/Chrome. They want to write in Word/Excel/PowerPoint. They want to use full fledged iLife.
And ARM + GPU + good hardware acceleration can offer this better than x86-64.

The AppStore creates a great way to cover ther architectural differences. Buy it once, and automatically buy it for both.

I am all for keeping the MacBook Pro a Pro-machine with Intel processors and all bells an whistles. But ARM could be big for the consumer space.
post #23 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

A5 is a 1.0 GHz and is brand new, Core 2 Duo is 1.4 GHz and fairly old by processor standards. Depending on how much apple can optimize OSx for A5 processors it is not hard to see similar performance, especially on lighter apps like Word Processing or web browsing (aside from flash of course). Sandy bridge is another story.

I always thought that Apple used 1.4 ghz Core 2 Duos because those were the latest ULV CPUs available to them. Until recently nobody did seem to care about ULV CPUs. Could be wrong though.
post #24 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpcg View Post

I always thought that Apple used 1.4 ghz Core 2 Duos because those were the latest ULV CPUs available to them. Until recently nobody did seem to care about ULV CPUs. Could be wrong though.

I believe those were introduced with the original air. The 13 inchers run a 1.8 Ghz chip that is slightly newer, but I think the 11 inch would be a better candidate for an ARM chip.
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post #25 of 93
Bookmarked.

Apple dont ruin the 13" MBA....pls... its a laptop, not a bigger ipad (already got 1 of those...).
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post #26 of 93
OSX lite or iOS Deluxe?
more like a deluxe ipad than a stripped notebook. Awesome battery life, it would have. </yoda>
post #27 of 93
I bet we see a new iOS device - macbook air form factor, perhaps without, but most likely with -> a touchscreen. Makes sense on some level doesn't it? I could see uses for it. Small, light, keyboard, wifi access. A highly mobile second system for a house.

For some needs, A5 level performance is fine.
post #28 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

You are right when does it end with all this new concepts from Apple? Stick with Intel and stop dicking around.


Wow. Remind me never to invest in a company that listens to your advice. Innovation bad. Business as usual good.
post #29 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post

I remember they used to say that back in the pre-OSX days, about intel chips and Motorola chips. They could put one of each processor in there and....

Oh it was more than just talk, Apple did produce several such machines, albeit with the x86 chip on a separate daughterboard which plugged into the Mac's main motherboard.


The Power Macintosh 6100/66 DOS Compatible was one such machine, search for DOS in Apple's tech spec section for other examples.
post #30 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Given the challenges that would come with a transition from Intel processors to an ARM-based CPU, the A5-powered MacBook Air was characterized as an "experiment." The hardware is said to have been built by Quanta Computer.

Am I the only one that finds it odd that this "experiment" was made by a company in Taiwan? I would have expected it to actually be made in a lab at Apple behind at least three levels of physical security.
post #31 of 93
#fail

@appleinsider Why do you keep posting these stupid stories!?!
I've you have a common sense you know this is crao.

Apple just finished a 5 year long transitions period when snow leopard was released!
post #32 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

A5 is a 1.0 GHz and is brand new, Core 2 Duo is 1.4 GHz and fairly old by processor standards. Depending on how much apple can optimize OSx for A5 processors it is not hard to see similar performance, especially on lighter apps like Word Processing or web browsing (aside from flash of course). Sandy bridge is another story.

yeah, like 3-4 years old.... so unless ARM was like 25% the power of Intels chips than, it shouldn't be 100%.... (equal)

i highly doubt this..... in terms of similiar preformance.

I do have no doubts about ARM being able to run almost as well as the C2D in 2 or 3 years however.... (with a large problem being multitasking, possibly due to cache size)

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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!

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post #33 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

You are right when does it end with all this new concepts from Apple? Stick with Intel and stop dicking around.


It's called R&D .... all the best companies do it.
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See, in the record business, you can show someone your song, and they don’t copy it. In the tech business, you show somebody your idea, and they steal it. (Jimmy Iovine)
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post #34 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

Bookmarked.

When the new MBA is released in the next several weeks, it'll be fun to come back and see how completely full of crap this "anonymous source" was.

You might wish to actually read the article.
post #35 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post

I remember they used to say that back in the pre-OSX days, about intel chips and Motorola chips. They could put one of each processor in there and....

They actually did sell a Mac with both a 68k and an Intel processor for a while. Didn't really work out. Too expensive, and a PR disaster as the "proof" that Apple had lost the war against Wintel. That was in the Amelio period or even before that, certainly while Steve Jobs was away.
post #36 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I think that right there is enough to discredit the rumor. Thunderbolt is welded to Intel's x86 chipset.

No, it is a separate (relatively huge) chip from Intel. Not until next year's Ivy Bridge will it (and USB3) be integrated into the chipset.
post #37 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I think that right there is enough to discredit the rumor. Thunderbolt is welded to Intel's x86 chipset.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The hardware is said to have been built by Quanta Computer.

I too am dismissive of this rumour, it implies that a multi-billion dollar electronic company full of chip designers and other talented engineers, would be incapable of creating internally a custom motherboard and hardware for a single test machine.
post #38 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I think that right there is enough to discredit the rumor. Thunderbolt is welded to Intel's x86 chipset.

Yeah, but Intel is Apple's bitch lately.

They released a statement just this week about how they would basically re-enginneer everything about their chips and make them custom for Apple as long "as they have an i-series core." Then they said they would even consider dropping that requirement.

Intel is pretty desperate to hook up right now and it's pretty plain who the sexiest computer maker is.
post #39 of 93
If anything does come to fruition, it will supplement the MBA, not replace it.

The quad-core Tegra ARM chips are only just now starting to be able to hang with the aging C2D. SNB destroys them handily. A5 is more on par with Atom, so an A5-powered MBA would be the netbook that Apple said they would never make ... which is the most credible evidence thus far that it will exist and be announced out of nowhere.
post #40 of 93
Since I mainly use my MBA 11" for writing (TextEdit even!), I'd welcome 3-4 hours more battery power. I'd take that any day. And it's not like anyone's talking about Mac Pros with ARM chips currently, although even there: Why not use 24 A6 or A7 chips instead of two Xeons?

Again: For the 11" MBA, I think it could be done and could be an instant hit as well. Many, many people don't require that much 3rd party software. Lion + iLife + iWork gets a *LOT* done in the consumer space. I'm guessing the Mac version of Angry Birds (or an equivalently fun game done for various platforms) would be on the Mac App Store as a universal binary for intel and ARM within days... Happy camping for a lot of people.
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