or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Apple mulling transition away from Intel chips for Macs
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Apple mulling transition away from Intel chips for Macs - Page 3

post #81 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

They sure didn't do it thanks to Boot Camp! No one is going to buy a Mac just to run Windows. They'll drop $400 on a piece of crap Windows desktop.

I think you underestimate the number of Mac users who occasionally need to run a Windows app. Boot Camp/Parallels/VM Ware/VirtualBox has allowed people who are tied to one or more Windows applications to switch and allowed Mac users to integrate into Windows dominated environments. I've been a Mac owner since the early 1990's, but I have a virtualized Windows installation for software that doesn't have a Mac equivalent.

 

I used to have a cheap PC desktop, but got sick and tired of having two computers.

 

Today Windows has a huge library of software, much of it unavailable for Mac. iOS also has a huge library of software, much of it also unavailable for the Mac.

 

When most computing goes mobile the old formats will likely lose their relevance and new ones will take their place. A seamless product lineup from iPhone to desktop running the same software might look very appealing, but there are still some big bumps in the road.

 

Almost all iOS and Android users also have a notebook/desktop computer of some sort and 95% of those run Windows.

 

iOS is openly hostile to collaboration and iCloud is a syncing service not a sharing service. Apple's sandbox that locks documents away in a private silo only accessible to one app and one Apple ID is a troubling sign.

 

Most of the world cannot afford to buy Apple hardware. Apple has always been happy to sell only to those who can afford to pay premium prices, but that means they have never been able to define the file formats or tools that the rest of the world uses.

post #82 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsimpsen View Post

Remember that Apple's elimination of Intel also eliminates Intel's hefty margins. That immediately places Apple at a cost advantage against other PC manufacturers.

 

This is good news for shareholders, irrelevant to Mac buyers. Apple eats up cost savings in margins, not reduced product prices. As evidence please see the iPad Mini and any iOS device with more than the base amount of storage. Mac prices don't change, except for build-to-order options which become more comically egregious with each passing year.

post #83 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


Really, it sort of is. Macs don't sell because of Boot Camp.

Actually, they do. I know a number of people who bought Macs because of Boot Camp. I know even more who bought them because they allow virtual machine performance which is close to native performance. ARM-based Macs would lose both of those advantages.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Eggleston View Post

Honestly, I think this is more of a Worst-Case-Scenerio than where they are headed. Much like what they did with PowerPC. They kept with the PowerPC Version until it made no sense for them to continue supporting it. They made the transition to Intel, and life carried on (even though my wife said it was the end of the Mac). I see them keeping a version of OS X running on their Ax Series of chips, and probably have an idea what it would take to make it work well with them. I still think it is just a matter of if Intel drops the ball, and then Apple has to respond.

The difference is that when they switched from PPC to Intel, they were switching to an architecture that was comparable in performance. In fact, since IBM and Motorola had really slowed down PPC performance, the new Intel Macs were as fast (or faster) as the PPC Macs they replaced. Equally important is the fact that they could now run WIndows apps at native speed rather than at the speed of a turtle chasing a snail through quicksand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by logandigges View Post

I have no idea about any of this stuff (hardware), would somebody fill me in? I mean, I know the basics, don't treat me like a child. Give me 10 (or as much as you can) reasons why switching to an ARM architecture would be bad on a Mac...

Thanks.

1. Performance would stink
2. Most existing apps would not run. Given how long it took major players like Adobe and Microsoft to create native Intel versions, this would be a major problem.
3. ARM is slow enough that they could not have a Rosetta-type solution to run Intel apps on an ARM system - so they'd have to wait for the apps to be ported.
4. Windows apps currently run at native speeds via virtual machines. Under ARM, they'd have to be emulated - which would make problem #1 even worse.

Repeat those 4 problems ad nauseam.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Who says it has to do Intel emulation? Apple surprised the tech world when it revealed it had a working verso of OS X running on Intel processors. Who says they don't have OS X running on custom, Apple designed ARM in the labs? And I don't agree that leaving Windows behind would be a big problem.

Lots of people use Macs to run Windows. Parallels claims to have 3 M Mac customers. When you add in other virtual machine software, you're probably looking at over 10 M customers. That's a lot.

And while putting Mac OS X on ARM would not be a terrible problem (other than the fact that the fastest ARM chip is far slower than the slowest Intel chip currently used by Apple), but the apps would be a problem. How long did it take Adobe to release a native version of Creative Suite (and even that did not use Apple's technologies)? How long did it take Microsoft to release a native version of Office? How long did it take AutoCAD to reappear on Macs? And given that ARM is so much slower than Intel, users would suffer - even if Apple could make a decent emulator.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #84 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeves Staub View Post

If I was negotiating with Intel to get the best processor prices possible, I'd say the same thing.

 

I agree. Got to keep one eye on the metagame!

post #85 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bregalad View Post

I think you underestimate the number of Mac users who occasionally need to run a Windows app. Boot Camp/Parallels/VM Ware/VirtualBox has allowed people who are tied to one or more Windows applications to switch and allowed Mac users to integrate into Windows dominated environments. I've been a Mac owner since the early 1990's, but I have a virtualized Windows installation for software that doesn't have a Mac equivalent.

 

I used to have a cheap PC desktop, but got sick and tired of having two computers.

 

Today Windows has a huge library of software, much of it unavailable for Mac. iOS also has a huge library of software, much of it also unavailable for the Mac.

 

When most computing goes mobile the old formats will likely lose their relevance and new ones will take their place. A seamless product lineup from iPhone to desktop running the same software might look very appealing, but there are still some big bumps in the road.

 

Almost all iOS and Android users also have a notebook/desktop computer of some sort and 95% of those run Windows.

 

iOS is openly hostile to collaboration and iCloud is a syncing service not a sharing service. Apple's sandbox that locks documents away in a private silo only accessible to one app and one Apple ID is a troubling sign.

 

Most of the world cannot afford to buy Apple hardware. Apple has always been happy to sell only to those who can afford to pay premium prices, but that means they have never been able to define the file formats or tools that the rest of the world uses.

 

 

Premium price or not I never got this much quality software or capability out of a windows machine.

post #86 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

They sure didn't do it thanks to Boot Camp! No one is going to buy a Mac just to run Windows. They'll drop $400 on a piece of crap Windows desktop.

 

Unless they also want a Mac for running Mac OS X. In which case, they don't need to buy a separate Windows machine at all. I wouldn't underestimate the appeal of Boot Camp to these people. I remember the zeitgeist when Apple first moved to Intel and introduced Boot Camp: people from the Windows world began justifying the purchase of their first Mac because Apple offered Boot Camp and Windows as a "safety blanket."

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #87 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by leesmith View Post

Don't do it!

 

 

I think I agree. However, interesting enough Microsoft is developing apps for the ARM processor. If enough of the important Windows apps run on ARM, it is possible that the ARM version of Windows would also be supported on an ARM based Mac. 

 

As an attorney though, I rely on some Windows software. If I can't run it, I have to go Windows (at least currently). 

 

Apple going Intel made a lot of inroads for Apple. It no longer had to play the specs game explaining how the lower spec'd Power PC chip was faster than higher spec'd Intel chips. Further, the costs of Macs went down when Apple was able to use more over the counter parts. Many people who needed Windows program could than run then much more easily. Further, more applications came to the Mac. 

 

Apple, however, could leverage its iOS app store to allow such Apps to more easily run on a Mac. 

post #88 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by CU10 View Post

Apple's decline may start when they get off intel's roadmap and go on their own.

 

Intel made Apple relevant in a way.

 

You mean by turning Apple into another commodity Wintel PC assembler?

 

Nice theory. Except for the fact that they've never been "on intel's roadmap" for any of their iOS devices, and yet these devices drive Apple's earnings. If the post-PC vision ever becomes a reality, how important will being "on intel's roadmap" be for Apple? How important will intel be in the post-PC world?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #89 of 120
The potential savings from switching to ARM are billions per year. Calculating at 10 Million Macs and a saving of $100 per devices. The actual figures could varies since we dont know what sort of discount Intel are giving Apple.

Someone mentioned the Ars Chromebook review, but Jeff Atwood also mention somehow the Nexus 7 despite having inferior hardware performs better. Which may be a sign that ChromeOS is not as optimize. It is important to point out x86 has the YEARS of engineering and tuning on performance and ARM still have a little to catch up.

The Rumors pops out basically because, 1. AMD decided to make a 64Bit ARM chip and 2, ARM announced their A57 to be around 30% faster then current A15 per clock. And A57 is designed to run up to 3Ghz. It is not hard to imagine A57 will be on the same level of performance with Core2Duo per clock. Think of it like a 8 Core Core2Duo running at 3Ghz on your desktop, but in terms of performance i am pretty sure by 2014 to 2015 they should have more or less worked it out.

And if x86 is REALLY that important, i am sure AMD will give a helping hand there.

There are only two kind of people in this world.

Those who dont understand Apple and those who misunderstood Apple.

Reply

There are only two kind of people in this world.

Those who dont understand Apple and those who misunderstood Apple.

Reply
post #90 of 120

Remember the day, when there was nearly no way, to view files from a pc, or view mac files on a pc? The old PowerPC days, and the 68030 days. I'm not looking forward to that happening again.

post #91 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider 
According to one of the sources, the recently-returned Bob Mansfield has long been interested in making a more consistent experience across iOS and OS X, a goal that could take shape as former mobile software chief Scott Forstall was recently ousted.

Is Forstall going to get blamed for everything from now on? Maybe Apple will build a car and a TV now that Forstall isn't holding them all back.

When it comes to ARM, I don't see why every big company wouldn't move to it. As soon as you buy chips from a 3rd party, you are putting yields, price, performance and features of the core part of your product under someone else's control.

Apple can't force Intel to make their IGP decent - that's why they have had to keep shifting back and forth between Intel's junk and GPUs from AMD/NVidia.

When Apple bought up the chip design firm and started doing this themselves, it was a clear sign they are tired of having other companies dictate the standard of their core components. This 'Swift' architecture is early days but a pretty good effort:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6330/the-iphone-5-review/4

Of course you can't take the chip from an iPhone, put it in an iMac and call it a day but consider performance per watt. What dual-core 1.3GHz x86 chip runs in a TDP of 2-5W? The iMac CPU has up to a 95W TDP.

Now consider Moore's Law. Right now we look at what we need now and we could not run productive apps comfortably on a phone. But, even if processing power doubles every 2 years, the processors we have will be 30x faster in 10 years. Apple is at 32nm with the A6 and Intel is at 22nm - it shrinks 70% each time so next up are 15nm, 10nm, 7nm, 5nm:

http://www.bit-tech.net/news/hardware/2012/05/14/intel-process-roadmap/1

Further might be possible:

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2011/06/2nm-quantum-transistors-are-the-worlds-smallest/

But just assume 30x for the CPU alone. Now assume that we have fully heterogenous computing where code runs on the GPU just as it does on the CPU but faster so now you are at least double again to 60x.

Even if you take a 50% hit on emulation speed, there is little reason to complain about x86 performance. Apple is not going to be alone in this. Just look at the population growth. Can a single company (Intel) delivery the kind of yields to satisfy shipments in the billions? What if they are late, should the world's computer technology sector just wait? That's what we have to do now because nobody can fairly compete with Intel.

More and more companies are clearly becoming frustrated by Intel. Modern games consoles don't use Intel and they are fairly powerful machines. The Wii-U uses an ARM CPU to run the OS and they all use IBM PPC CPUs.

If Intel has a roadmap to 60x then there might be no reason to switch but if Apple has a faster roadmap, there is because Apple could make an ARM chip 2^5 (32x) faster in the time Intel makes an x86 chip 2^3 (8x) faster. Even with a 50% hit with emulation, Apple would still be faster than Intel native. There are undeniable downsides but it's all just legacy. Companies will have to change their software to accommodate new input methods and operating systems in due time anyway.
post #92 of 120
Its been reported already that Apple has ported OS X to ARM for testing and was favorably impressed with it's performance on a 32 bit processor. Keep in mind that the A6X has quad core GPUs for driving a high resolution 2048 x 1536 pixel display at a high performance rate. That's on a SOC.. It's easily possible as Apple has an instruction set level license for ARMv8. With the recent A50/A57 64 bit chips appearing, a transition could be closer than you think.
post #93 of 120
It sounds dumb. Last week, Apple's Tim Cook was criticising Windows for adopting the same paradigm across desktop Windows and tablet Windows (surface): anyone can make a car that flies, or some such thing ... but would it really do either well?

This piffle article now suggests that Apple do precisely that. Would you really want the same chip powering your iPad mini as that powering your Mac Pro? Nah. Would it be able to run Windows too? Of course not. Would it have to emulate everything .. probably very slowly - yes. What would be the advantage ??? Maybe that a Macbook Air could run cooly for a bit longer. Who cares ... by then, Intel will have something that runs cooler and longer anyway.

Go find something useful to do ... like take on Google on search. 1smile.gif
post #94 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bregalad View Post

Apple is never going to choose a chip that's twice as big as the competition. Smaller, thinner, lighter applies to the inside of the Mac just as much as the outside.

They already did field a chip that was much larger than the competition. Analysts were surprised by the large die size of the A5, and reasoned (correctly) that Apple could afford the extra silicon because they'd dispensed with the margins of a Qualcomm or NVIDIA.

post #95 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by v5v View Post

 

This is good news for shareholders, irrelevant to Mac buyers. Apple eats up cost savings in margins, not reduced product prices. As evidence please see the iPad Mini and any iOS device with more than the base amount of storage. Mac prices don't change, except for build-to-order options which become more comically egregious with each passing year.

I think it would be good news for both. If Apple is able to improve performance at the same price and/or reduce price at the same performance while maintaining margin, everybody benefits, except the middleman who's been cut out.

post #96 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by renner.david.b View Post

Its been reported already that Apple has ported OS X to ARM for testing and was favorably impressed with it's performance on a 32 bit processor. Keep in mind that the A6X has quad core GPUs for driving a high resolution 2048 x 1536 pixel display at a high performance rate. That's on a SOC.. It's easily possible as Apple has an instruction set level license for ARMv8. With the recent A50/A57 64 bit chips appearing, a transition could be closer than you think.

I'd read that Apple has an architectural license, but wasn't sure about an instruction set license. The latter would be ideal, as the license cost is lower and Apple seems to have the talent to design from scratch. This would decouple Apple from ARM's development timeline.

post #97 of 120

I'm not sure you really want to go up against Chipzilla. They will figure out *some* way to make x64 as power efficient as ARM, just you watch, they'll pull something out of the hat.

post #98 of 120

I am sure that Apple are always exploring alternatives to the architecture, keeping close to AMD while trying to steer Intel to a roadmap that suits Apple. It would be remiss of a company that big to do anything other.

 

If and it is a very big if, ARM were to catch up and overtake Intel then it may not be completely silly to consider the options. I know that means running x86 in emulation and there is a Russian company that claims it is running emulation of x86 on ARM at 40% efficiency and expects to get to over 80% within a couple of years.

 

On the other hand Intel have been pushed by Apple over the years to produce a roadmap that suits Apple aspirations and have had some success (assuming Haswell and Broadwell deliver) especially in the graphics department.

 

I would be concerned if Apple were not exploring options, they have a pretty good track record of adopting technologies that meet their needs while accommodating the majority of their current and anticipated user base. 

post #99 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsimpsen View Post

 

ARM runs OS X natively already, so emulation is pointless. I believe you meant that ARM would have difficulty emulating the X86 instruction set. As Apple is designing the processor, emulation of the X86 instruction set is probably more a legal problem than a technological one. The PA Semi folks have already implemented two different instruction sets, PowerPC and ARM. X86 would not be beyond their grasp. However, they can't get a license to run X86 by purchasing AMD (there's a caveat in AMD's license that prevents inheritance of the license). There may be another way for Apple to emulate X86 efficiently and legally, or it may be that by the time they envision making the switch, they also envision X86 compatibility being unnecessary.

 

I think it's important to consider the leverage Apple gains by removing Intel's 60% gross margin from the bill of materials.


ARM doesn't run iOS otherwise there would already be Macs running on ARM chips. Show us any links saying, showing or even claiming that ARM chips can run OS X.

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Douglas Adams

Reply

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Douglas Adams

Reply
post #100 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post


I don't see your argument as being correct. Some of your facts are simply wrong as well. For one, Apple isn't "experimenting" with selling iPads without cell connectivity. They've always sold them that way, and usually WiFi only models have gone on sale first. I don't know where you get the idea you have.

You're making assumptions of what would be a winner, and what won't. How do you know this? You don't. You just think it's true. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. How much of your own real money would you bet on it?
I doubt that Apple isn't investigating every possible option out there. They have to. But most of what they do never is used. And we don't know what they are doing. A few enthusiastic engineers are making statements that are their own desire, perhaps, nothing more.
Apple sold 18 million "computers" last year, about $25 billion worth. They aren't going to abandon that business so soon.
Convincing potential customers to buy an iPad is great, I've got a bunch. But it will be some time before the computer becomes that truck SJ was talking about. And when it does, we won't be using OS X on ARM, we will be using iOS 12 on ARM.

I got the idea I have because Apple is currently shipping Mini iPads and iPad 4s WIFI ONLY. No cell capability versions. They never had the time gap between the two kinds like this. 

 

Hundreds of Millions of users are finding that they can get along just fine and dandy without MS Office on their iOS Devices. That includes a lot of Fortune 1000 commercial users. The longer this goes on, the more IT managers and users are realizing that X86/Windows is not as essential as once believed as gospel truth.

 

Where's the tipping point where enough users believe they can exist without X86/Windows? Is it here now with nearly half a billion iDevices in users hands, or will it come next year? This can happen without iOS devices being the "truck" computer. There may be a place for Intel/Win in the future, just as there are mini-computers and IBM big iron still running and needed. We may just as well see Intel/Macs for as long as well. I think portables will lose the Intel chip due to (1) battery life differences, (2) the lesser need for a "truck" computer for most users.

 

Finally, iOS apps haven't experienced the "bloatware" situation that is common to Intel computers. I remember doing some pretty fast work with Photoshop on a Mac IIx, with 8 Mg of RAM and a 16 MHz clock. The needs for terra-flops of speed and giga-bytes of memory today are crazy.  :-)

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
post #101 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post


I love it when people say "just recompile". Sure. So you have gone and found Apple technologies and listed them, wonderful. Have you ever programmed on a serious level? If you have, then you would know that "just recompile" is a very naive accessment of the problem for large amounts of code. You are talking about major work. Work that many developers may not want to do again.
And please don't make statements that you can't support. Rumors don't mean that something is actually happening. Even if they are, it means little.

 

in most cases it would just be a recompile.

 

Certainly there are important exceptions, things like photoshop and office.  But for the most part apps already are built to support MacOS X on Intel and iOS on ARM.  And developers who know what they're doing don't write code that would care which CPU it ran on.

 

And Xcode already knows how to build binaries that support multiple CPU architectures.  Announce at WWDC and ship in the fall and 90% of shipping apps would already be updated by the time machines shipped.  I'm sure people like Adobe and Microsoft would take longer, but that wouldn't matter too much because if Apple did this, the first machines would most likely be more affordable MacBook Airs. which already don't target photoshop users.

 

as for the cpu power that keeps being mentioned.  Certainly Apple wouldn't do something like this without a more powerful CPU than the iPad 4 has.  But a 4 core 64 but ARM CPU should be plenty powerful for a more affordable entry level machine.  

 

Building their own CPUs has proven to be quite important for Apple in the iOS world.  It wouldn't' be at all surprising if they wanted to bring that to the MacOS world. 

post #102 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I'm not sure you really want to go up against Chipzilla. They will figure out *some* way to make x64 as power efficient as ARM, just you watch, they'll pull something out of the hat.

They'd have done it by now. If they were as good as you say.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #103 of 120

Shocking that everybody is worried about the possible Intel->ARM transition, which actually isn't of any concern because if/when that happens, performance of both architectures will be similar.

 

However, the article _does_ have a worrying affirmation that everybody is neglecting: The wish of Bob Mansfield: Convergence of iOS and OSX. This is exactly what Tim Cook is criticizing about Windows 8: You shouldn't use the same paradigm for devices that are used in a different way. We already had enough of it with Lion. It seems Mansfield wants to go that road, and that road has just one meaning: Forget the Mac, say hello to the iPad Pro.

 

Now, this _is_ worrying. But the Intel->ARM transition is totally harmless to the Mac, I don't care about it.

post #104 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It will also lead to a massive decrease in performance - which would not be acceptable to most people.

While that's true on current hardware, it doesn't have to be in future hardware. As far as design is concerned, ARM is a lot easier to implement than x86; the only thing currently keeping x86 in the lead is Intel's vastly superior experience and competence in processor design, but given another company with comparable experience I have no doubt that ARM can completely destroy x86, both due to being a much simpler design with a much smaller instruction set and without backward compatibility concerns and because it's easier to optimize compilers for RISC. Also, from what I'm told, Apple is betting on massively parallel implementations with 32, 64, 128 core SoCs for Macs. Last I heard, a lot was going on inside Apple to make existing code as parallel as possible with this in mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

There is, of course, always the possibility of using AMD chips, though.

AMD themselves are betting on ARM64 for future servers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post

On the one hand, there's the problem that this would eliminate Bootcamp and virtualization options. That's not a small loss for many users. On the other hand, this would also eliminate the possibility of Hackintoshes, but those don't take a big bite out of Apple's sales anyway.

Microsoft themselves are changing the Windows paradigm.
post #105 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post
.... This 'Swift' architecture is early days but a pretty good effort:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/6330/the-iphone-5-review/4

 

I surprised you posted an Anandtech link to the iPhone 5 review to support your belief that ARM could be an acceptable chip for Macs.

 

Surely you noticed in the performance benchmarks how competitive the Atom cpu in the Motorola handset is? And by competitive I mean faster in several benchmarks.

 

People shouldn't be wondering when ARM will be power Macs. They should be wondering when Intel cpus will be in iOS devices. Later in 2013 Intel will be rolling out a major Atom redesign. It will be fabbed at the 22nm process node. I predict that chip will be the fastest chip for mobile phones when it is released. I think it is going to easily surpass the best available ARM chip at that point in time. 

post #106 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by alandail View Post

 

in most cases it would just be a recompile.

 

Certainly there are important exceptions, things like photoshop and office.  But for the most part apps already are built to support MacOS X on Intel and iOS on ARM.  And developers who know what they're doing don't write code that would care which CPU it ran on.

 

And Xcode already knows how to build binaries that support multiple CPU architectures.  Announce at WWDC and ship in the fall and 90% of shipping apps would already be updated by the time machines shipped.  I'm sure people like Adobe and Microsoft would take longer, but that wouldn't matter too much because if Apple did this, the first machines would most likely be more affordable MacBook Airs. which already don't target photoshop users.

 

as for the cpu power that keeps being mentioned.  Certainly Apple wouldn't do something like this without a more powerful CPU than the iPad 4 has.  But a 4 core 64 but ARM CPU should be plenty powerful for a more affordable entry level machine.  

 

Building their own CPUs has proven to be quite important for Apple in the iOS world.  It wouldn't' be at all surprising if they wanted to bring that to the MacOS world. 

 

Excellent comment.

 

The porting problems of Adobe and Microsoft had to do with differences in APS's (or, to be precise, the conversion from Carbon to Cocoa); they effectively had to reimplement the applications.

A transition from x86 code to ARM will be as simple as switching Xcode to ARM and waiting a few minutes, if Apple converts the full OS X API set to ARM (and they probably did that already). 

Certainly, CPU power is important, but most CPU intensive tasks are offloaded by iOS and OS X to the GPU's. This is done via OpenGL and OpenCL.

So GPU performance is very important and current generation PowerVR cores have desktop performance.

A7 next year could be a 64bit A57 based PowerVR rogue SOC and will be off desktop performance, probably using a fifth of the energy of a comparable Intel processor. I expect the MacBook Airs to make the transition to ARM first.

 

J. 

post #107 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

You mean by turning Apple into another commodity Wintel PC assembler?

Nice theory. Except for the fact that they've never been "on intel's roadmap" for any of their iOS devices, and yet these devices drive Apple's earnings. If the post-PC vision ever becomes a reality, how important will being "on intel's roadmap" be for Apple? How important will intel be in the post-PC world?

So Apple is just another commodity Wintel PC assembler? I guess that's why everyone had to copy the MBA - and Intel had to offer $300 M in subsidies for Apple's competitors. I guess it's why there are so many 27" AIO computers out there that look just like the iMac. 1rolleyes.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksec View Post

The potential savings from switching to ARM are billions per year. Calculating at 10 Million Macs and a saving of $100 per devices. The actual figures could varies since we dont know what sort of discount Intel are giving Apple.

So you don't have any idea what you're talking about, but that won't stop you from making things up......

But have it your way. Apple saves $100 per device on 10 M Macs per year - or $1 B per year. But they lose 2 M Mac sales at $1500 each - or $3 B. See? I can make numbers up, too. I suspect mine are closer to the truth, though.

If Apple wants to save money on processors, there are better ways to do it. Use slightly older Intel chips - which would still outperform ARM. Use AMD chips.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post

While that's true on current hardware, it doesn't have to be in future hardware.

Yeah. ARM is going to advance mightily in coming years while Intel won't improve their chips at all. 1oyvey.gif
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #108 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post


While that's true on current hardware, it doesn't have to be in future hardware. As far as design is concerned, ARM is a lot easier to implement than x86; the only thing currently keeping x86 in the lead is Intel's vastly superior experience and competence in processor design, but given another company with comparable experience I have no doubt that ARM can completely destroy x86, both due to being a much simpler design with a much smaller instruction set and without backward compatibility concerns and because it's easier to optimize compilers for RISC. Also, from what I'm told, Apple is betting on massively parallel implementations with 32, 64, 128 core SoCs for Macs. Last I heard, a lot was going on inside Apple to make existing code as parallel as possible with this in mind.
AMD themselves are betting on ARM64 for future servers.
Microsoft themselves are changing the Windows paradigm.

 

Your absolutely right.

Apple uses Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) and a small C extension (blocks) to make writing parallel code a lot easier.

So using lots of cores on a SoC is a very good idea to enhance performance.

 

J. 

post #109 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post


While that's true on current hardware, it doesn't have to be in future hardware. As far as design is concerned, ARM is a lot easier to implement than x86; the only thing currently keeping x86 in the lead is Intel's vastly superior experience and competence in processor design, but given another company with comparable experience I have no doubt that ARM can completely destroy x86, both due to being a much simpler design with a much smaller instruction set and without backward compatibility concerns and because it's easier to optimize compilers for RISC. Also, from what I'm told, Apple is betting on massively parallel implementations with 32, 64, 128 core SoCs for Macs. Last I heard, a lot was going on inside Apple to make existing code as parallel as possible with this in mind.
 

If adding cores were all that is necessary to make the fastest computers, we'd all be using gpus to do our tasks. Its not that easy. Some tasks cannot be made parallel in code. Single core performance is still important. Just ask AMD. And I wouldn't be looking at AMD to get a glimpse of the future of computing. Just because they are throwing in with ARM doesn't make it a winner over x86 for server applications. They've been wrong before.

post #110 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

.... This 'Swift' architecture is early days but a pretty good effort:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/6330/the-iphone-5-review/4

I surprised you posted an Anandtech link to the iPhone 5 review to support your belief that ARM could be an acceptable chip for Macs.

Surely you noticed in the performance benchmarks how competitive the Atom cpu in the Motorola handset is? And by competitive I mean faster in several benchmarks.

People shouldn't be wondering when ARM will be power Macs. They should be wondering when Intel cpus will be in iOS devices. Later in 2013 Intel will be rolling out a major Atom redesign. It will be fabbed at the 22nm process node. I predict that chip will be the fastest chip for mobile phones when it is released. I think it is going to easily surpass the best available ARM chip at that point in time. 

Apple using Intel's low power chips in iPads and iPhones is a possibility and would be the easier route towards Mac and iOS binary compatibility. As far as the benchmarks go, the Intel Atom is dual 1.3GHz that dynamically clocks to 2GHz. The A6 is dual 1GHz that dynamically clocks to 1.3GHz and it's not clear what the power draw is of each. I'd bet that performance per watt is better in Apple's CPU.

No comparison right now will make ARM seem like an obvious choice for switching but just like with the PPC to Intel switch, it's all down to the roadmap. I wouldn't look forward to updating every Mac app again and wouldn't care about doing that for the iOS apps so moving from ARM to Intel would be the less painful option but if ARM chips can be 2x faster for a lower price, I think it would be worthwhile.

The emulation headache won't be anywhere near as bad as before either. This happened in 2005 when computers were less than 1/10th the speed of their modern equivalents. The lower-end dual 1.8GHz G5 ($2000, 2004) scored 0.38 in Cinebench 11. The current middle Mac Mini ($800) scores about 6.2 so a factor of 16x in 8 years (double every 2 years and those models aren't equivalent in price). A lot of people back then were struggling with single processor G4s, which score less than half the G5.

Emulating Windows on a G4 using VirtualPC in 2004/2005 would be nothing like emulating Windows on a Core i7 in 2012 and we're not talking about the transition happening in 2012.

If it turns out to be worth doing, I just don't think it's something to be too concerned about.
post #111 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


.... As far as the benchmarks go, the Intel Atom is dual 1.3GHz that dynamically clocks to 2GHz. The A6 is dual 1GHz that dynamically clocks to 1.3GHz and it's not clear what the power draw is of each. I'd bet that performance per watt is better in Apple's CPU.

The Atom in the Mototrola Razor I is a single core chip with hyperthreading. Link.

 

I think Intel are going to leap frog ARM in performance when the next version of Atom. It is supposedly going to be dual core and an Out of Order design. Heck if it is single core with hyperthreading and OoO I think it will surpass ARM. 

 

I think people here are assuming a larger architectural advantage for RISC over CISC chips than actually exists these days. The over head that CISC chips have compared to RISC is relatively small these days. IIRC its only about 10%. Performance now will largely be dependant on how small the chips are fabbed. I don't see Intel relinquishing their advantage here anytime soon.

post #112 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


Really, it sort of is. Macs don't sell because of Boot Camp.

 

I think it is a bigger deal than you suggest, especially in the enterprise.  If my company couldn't run Windows in virtualization or boot camp without decent performance, there wouldn't be a single mac on anyone's desk or in anyone's laptop bag.  It is absolutely that big of a deal.

post #113 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Realistic View Post


ARM doesn't run iOS otherwise there would already be Macs running on ARM chips. Show us any links saying, showing or even claiming that ARM chips can run OS X.

I believe you mistyped your claim that ARM doesn't run iOS.

 

There have been numerous rumors of MacBook Air chassis running OS X on ARM. It would be hard to believe that Apple was running parallel PowerPC/X86 development of OS X, then forked OS X to ARM for iOS, but did not pursue full OS X on ARM. That would be a lot less work than the parallel PowerPC/X86 projects.

 

And here's another interesting angle on ARM/X86... http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4397620/Russian-software-runs-x86-code-on-ARM

post #114 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsimpsen View Post

I believe you mistyped your claim that ARM doesn't run iOS.

There have been numerous rumors of MacBook Air chassis running OS X on ARM. It would be hard to believe that Apple was running parallel PowerPC/X86 development of OS X, then forked OS X to ARM for iOS, but did not pursue full OS X on ARM. That would be a lot less work than the parallel PowerPC/X86 projects.

And here's another interesting angle on ARM/X86... http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4397620/Russian-software-runs-x86-code-on-ARM

Yes, but note:
"Elbrus Technologies has developed emulation software that currently delivers 40 percent of native ARM performance. "

40% is pretty good for emulation, but that means that ARM (which is already far slower than Intel solutions) would have its performance reduced by 60% - or more (if they're using favorable results).


"The company believes it could reach 80 percent native ARM performance or greater by the end of 2014."

Lots of companies have made similar claims, but no one has yet produced an emulation solution with that level of performance on any platform. Even their claimed 40% is higher than anyone else has achieved. I guess I'll believe it when I see it.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #115 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Apple using Intel's low power chips in iPads and iPhones is a possibility and would be the easier route towards Mac and iOS binary compatibility. As far as the benchmarks go, the Intel Atom is dual 1.3GHz that dynamically clocks to 2GHz. The A6 is dual 1GHz that dynamically clocks to 1.3GHz and it's not clear what the power draw is of each. I'd bet that performance per watt is better in Apple's CPU.
No comparison right now will make ARM seem like an obvious choice for switching but just like with the PPC to Intel switch, it's all down to the roadmap. I wouldn't look forward to updating every Mac app again and wouldn't care about doing that for the iOS apps so moving from ARM to Intel would be the less painful option but if ARM chips can be 2x faster for a lower price, I think it would be worthwhile.
The emulation headache won't be anywhere near as bad as before either. This happened in 2005 when computers were less than 1/10th the speed of their modern equivalents. The lower-end dual 1.8GHz G5 ($2000, 2004) scored 0.38 in Cinebench 11. The current middle Mac Mini ($800) scores about 6.2 so a factor of 16x in 8 years (double every 2 years and those models aren't equivalent in price). A lot of people back then were struggling with single processor G4s, which score less than half the G5.
Emulating Windows on a G4 using VirtualPC in 2004/2005 would be nothing like emulating Windows on a Core i7 in 2012 and we're not talking about the transition happening in 2012.
If it turns out to be worth doing, I just don't think it's something to be too concerned about.

I think you're grossly underestimating the difficulties.

Regardless of what you're starting with, you lose something like 2/3 to 3/4 of your performance when you emulate an instruction set. Since ARM is so much slower than Intel to start, the problem would be even greater.

Yes, it's true that today's computers are far faster than 15 year old computers. And, yes, one could easily emulate a 15 year old computer with today's computers - and it would seem fast. But no one is buying 15 year old computers. They're buying modern computers and x86 emulated on ARM would be horrendously slow compared to anything on the market.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #116 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta 
Regardless of what you're starting with, you lose something like 2/3 to 3/4 of your performance when you emulate an instruction set. Since ARM is so much slower than Intel to start, the problem would be even greater.

The switch would be under the assumption that at some point in the future, ARM would be faster than Intel. If that never comes to pass then there's no point but the performance improvements we've seen so far suggest that it's a possibility.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta 
Yes, it's true that today's computers are far faster than 15 year old computers. And, yes, one could easily emulate a 15 year old computer with today's computers - and it would seem fast. But no one is buying 15 year old computers. They're buying modern computers and x86 emulated on ARM would be horrendously slow compared to anything on the market.

If you assume that you run at 40% performance, that's equivalent to a 3-year old computer.

We know that Intel has been doubling performance fairly consistently every 2 years. This is shown in benchmarks for the past decade or more. Mobile ARM processors have been doubling in performance every year since 2007. If those rates of improvement continue, the smartphone class ARM CPU will outperform the laptop class Intel CPU in 5 years. TSMC has already made a dual 3.1GHz ARM chip. Apple could probably clock their A6 at 3.1GHz with a power draw of 15W tops and it would work as a laptop CPU and right now would be comparable in performance to the Macbook Air. If they double the cores, it moves into Macbook Pro territory.

There's no sense in doing anything until the performance is significantly higher but that could be just 3 years away. If the performance is double an equivalent Intel chip, running at 40% via emulation = 2 x 0.4 = 80% native.

Usage cases for Bootcamp should be considered too. For gaming it's going to be a bad deal. For things like accounting and probably even modelling apps like 3DS Max, it'll be fine. If you link up with say V-Ray on the Mac side, you can run at native speeds. Windows used to run like the following on a G4:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TldJlTGY1LE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C2dO0y5OdY

For average Windows usage, it should run pretty smoothly on a sufficiently fast ARM chip especially now that we have loads of RAM and SSDs. Emulation mainly won't be suitable for resource-intensive tasks but most of those can be done on the Mac side.

Also, bear in mind that Intel is slowing down on CPU improvements in favour of the IGP. They've dropped year-on-year CPU bumps to 10-15%. Graphics is another thing to consider for a switch to ARM but they could easily use a GPU from AMD/NVidia given that the power consumption of the CPU would be less. Instead of the Mini having a 45W quad-i7 and an Intel IGP, it could have a 15W quad ARM and a 30W AMD/NVidia dedicated GPU. While they could just use an AMD CPU, if the ARM performance per watt is higher than Intel, it will certainly be higher than AMD.
post #117 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

The switch would be under the assumption that at some point in the future, ARM would be faster than Intel. If that never comes to pass then there's no point but the performance improvements we've seen so far suggest that it's a possibility.
If you assume that you run at 40% performance, that's equivalent to a 3-year old computer.
We know that Intel has been doubling performance fairly consistently every 2 years. This is shown in benchmarks for the past decade or more. Mobile ARM processors have been doubling in performance every year since 2007. If those rates of improvement continue, the smartphone class ARM CPU will outperform the laptop class Intel CPU in 5 years. TSMC has already made a dual 3.1GHz ARM chip. Apple could probably clock their A6 at 3.1GHz with a power draw of 15W tops and it would work as a laptop CPU and right now would be comparable in performance to the Macbook Air. If they double the cores, it moves into Macbook Pro territory.
There's no sense in doing anything until the performance is significantly higher but that could be just 3 years away. If the performance is double an equivalent Intel chip, running at 40% via emulation = 2 x 0.4 = 80% native.

How about a little critical thinking.

Do you really think that ARM will have twice the performance of Intel in 3 years? That's so implausible that it hardly merits mention.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #118 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

How about a little critical thinking.

Do you really think that ARM will have twice the performance of Intel in 3 years? That's so implausible that it hardly merits mention.

They are about even just now comparing like for like e.g comparing Medfield to the A6 and not an i7 to the A6.

If Intel focuses on improving their IGP and CPU performance goes up 15% each year, in 3 years, they will be at 1.15 ^ 3 = 1.52x faster. If ARM improves just 50% each year, in 3 years they will be at 1.5 ^ 3 = 3.38x faster. 3.38 / 1.52 = ARM is 2.22x faster than Intel.
post #119 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

Not going to happen. The Mac platform exploded after adopting intel chips

 

Yes, because Intel's chips featured far better performance-per-watt than IBM was delivering with PPC.  That allowed Apple to expand dramatically in the then fast-growing laptop segment, where they now dominate the industry in terms of profit.

 

Today, ARM's chips feature far better performance-per-watt in the smartphone and tablet space than anything Intel has been able to bring to market.  If ARM continues to release ever more capable chips with similar performance-per-watt, they'll soon be the only viable option in the ultralight notebook market.  And at that point, given that iOS is Apple's largest business by far anyhow, it'll certainly make sense for them to switch their entire product line over to customized ARM chips.

 

Even if ARM's raw performance never matches that of Intel's best x86 chips, Apple could still offer comparable end-user performance on their larger laptops and desktop machines by larding them with high-end GPUs and other support chips, and by deploying multiple ARM CPUs on their high power machines.  Since they won't be paying the Intel tax anymore and won't need to maintain two separate code bases, they can buy a lot of extra CPUs with that kind of money.  Two ARM CPUs with just more than half the performance of an Intel CPU will likely provide a better end user experience than that single Intel CPU, and could end up costing Apple somewhat less as well.

 

It would also give Apple total control over its roadmap.  That's worth billions in and of itself.

post #120 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecs View Post

However, the article _does_ have a worrying affirmation that everybody is neglecting: The wish of Bob Mansfield: Convergence of iOS and OSX. This is exactly what Tim Cook is criticizing about Windows 8: You shouldn't use the same paradigm for devices that are used in a different way. We already had enough of it with Lion. It seems Mansfield wants to go that road, and that road has just one meaning: Forget the Mac, say hello to the iPad Pro.

 

We have no idea what the convergence of iOS and OS X entails.  It would be possible to merge the two without merging the actual UI at all.  The OS could detect how you're interfacing with the device - voice, touch, or keyboard and mouse - and adjust the UI accordingly.  So the 'desktop' UI would look nothing like the touch UI.

 

This is how Microsoft should have approached Windows 8.  But MS has never understood user interfaces, and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that they've botched their attempt to integrate their mobile and desktop UIs.  Apple likely won't make the same stupid mistake.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Discussion
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Apple mulling transition away from Intel chips for Macs