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ARM-based Macs seen as 'inevitable,' but Apple unlikely to switch anytime soon - Page 2

post #41 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


It's my understanding that ARM is great at the low end but can't be scaled to 3 and 4GHz like Intel chips to get the same performance per watt.

 

That seems to be in direct contradiction with the ARM 64bit Cortex A57 roadmap (up to 3GHz).

 

J.


Edited by jnjnjn - 11/6/12 at 8:07am
post #42 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seankill View Post

I guess I'll be switching back to pcs then. Cause I want a processor that's powerful and compatible with windows.
Stupid move IMO
I like ARM in phones Etc
Hopefully it's just be like a version of the MacBook Air and not all MacBooks

 

 

I really doubt Apple would move to ARM anytime soon on its Macs. ARM's biggest advantage is the chips use little power in relation to performance. However, Intel has a big advantage in terms of raw performance and it is working to improve where it is at a disadvantage. Moreover, Apple gained some big advantages when it went to Intel in terms of not having to compete on specs anymore, and bringing a lot of people into the fold who had to use Windows. Apple has sold a lot of Macs because the Mac could run Windows. I suspect we are hearing these rumors as a method of placing pressure on Intel to do something. 

 

With all that said, Microsoft is bringing Windows to ARM. So eventually it is possible lots of Windows only software might make an ARM port. Microsoft will certainly port versions of its own software to ARM. So, at that point Windows will be able to run on Apple's ARM architecture as well. So a few years from now when ARM chips are capable of running OSX (and if Intel is still at a disadvantage), Apple can ditch Intel then and Windows would still likely run on Apple's Macs. 

post #43 of 95


Ok, here is a theory: Intel/ARM-hybrid-Macs

 

Let me explain: Switching to ARM completely has many problems. First it's several years off, before ARM-based chips will be powerful enough to match Intel chips. Second, a full switch would require another round of recoding and recompilations for software developers. This might be fairly easy for apps in the Mac app store, but not so much for the more 'serious' apps out there. Remember how long it took Adobe to port Photoshop&co to run native on Intel cpus?

 

Still, the idea is attractive, because ARM designs are much, much more power efficient than Intels right now and judging by the benchmarks from the A6-series, even the fairly slow Intel Atom chips still have a ways to go. But Apple really likes power efficiency. The more power efficient the system, the slimmer and lighter they can make their computers without sacrificing battery runtime.

 

How to get the best of both worlds? Use both.

 

Take the Intel based systems we have today and add an A-Series chip to it. Use the ARM chip to run (parts of) the kernel, APIs and non-time-sensitive background tasks to take load of the Intel-CPU. Maybe make GrandCentral architecture aware to maybe run less cpu-intensive and time-sensitive tasks automatically on the ARM chip for app store software as well. That way the Intel cpu can go into lower power modes more often, saving power for longer lasting batteries.

 

The more I think about this, the more I believe that this could be feasible. But then I'm not an engineer or OS programmer.

post #44 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowdog65 View Post

 

 

Nothing more than last years recycled nonsense rumor.

 

Top end ARM chips are totally outclassed, even by the PowerPC chips Apple transitioned away from in 2005.

 

ARM may be getting faster, but it doesn't come close to catching Intel in the foreseeable future.

 

 

Ironically enough all those Power PC chips are being used to power every major game system on the market, the X-Box included. 

post #45 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunx View Post

No way. A full x86 compatibility is a must. Besides power. Intel power. No toy-like ARM power.

 

a must for who?   100 million people get plenty done with ARM based iPads and their 2048-by-1536 display.  Why wouldn't' the A7 be powerful enough for a $799 11" MacBook Air, 8 hour battery, retina display, under 2 lbs?  No windows support, office or adobe.  And no thunderbolt.  But runs everything in the mac app store within a couple of months of launch.  Optional 4G LTE version.  Apple would sell millions of them.

post #46 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by alandail View Post

 

a must for who?   100 million people get plenty done with ARM based iPads and their 2048-by-1536 display.  Why wouldn't' the A7 be powerful enough for a $799 11" MacBook Air, 8 hour battery, retina display, under 2 lbs?  No windows support, office or adobe.  And no thunderbolt.  But runs everything in the mac app store within a couple of months of launch.  Optional 4G LTE version.  Apple would sell millions of them.

 

If CPU performance didn't matter, why weren't the MacBook Airs running Intel Atom chips. They could have been cheaper, lighter weight, cooler, with longer battery life. Win, Win, Win, Win....

 

It seems that performance does matter. What you are arguing for is the Apple netbook.

post #47 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnjnjn View Post

That's seems to be in direct contradiction with the ARM 64bit Cortex A57 roadmap (up to 3GHz)

Those chips that aren't on the market yet. It's also ARM's first major push into 64-bit and positioning itself toward the server market which are going to have a constant power source so you aren't dealing with power consumption and heat in the same way as a handheld device. Don't get me wrong, power efficiency and low heat in servers chips is a huge drive but it doesn't have the same limitations as it does with handheld devices which is why Intel is just now getting any foothold in this area.

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post #48 of 95
edit: Pipped by Snowdog65.

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post #49 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowdog65 View Post

 

This is what the danger of "a little knowledge" looks like. There is a small theoretical advantage to ARM simpler instruction set.

 

But this is swamped by execution.  The real reason ARM was historically so much better at mobile, is because that is what they have been building for, for years, while Intel OTOH concentrated on high performance.

 

In case you haven't noticed, Intel is waking up. Check out the Motorola Razr i, with an Intel Atom inside. It was the only phone to regularly beat the new A6 iPhone on benchmarks, and it is still gets good battery life.

 

Next year, Intel is releasing a brand new Atom Architecture (first in 5 years) it will be arriving on Intels mature 22nm process and coming in varieties ranging from 1 core to 4 core.

 

After that Intel is planning to start doing Tic-Toc iterations in mobile, like they do on desktops (where the obliterated AMD).

 

In three years most new Android phones could be running Intel Atoms and making iPhones looks slow in comparison and all the talk will be about how Apple is going to switch iOS to Intel and ditch non competetive ARM.

 

The truth is we don't know, but anyone writing off Intel in Mobile or saying an Apple switch of OSX to ARM is inevitable, is clueless.

 

Thank you oh wise one for clearing that up. Regardless, Apple's future lies in ARM, you may know not, but I do. Apple has put it's weight behind it, it fits Apple's business model, therefore it's a given. Moving to Intel was just a temporary move after the IBM/Moto/Apple PPC treo went separate ways. Right now Apple can be dictated to by Intel, and it sure as hell aint happy about that because it has been burnt before. 

post #50 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

Thank you oh wise one for clearing that up. Regardless, Apple's future lies in ARM, you may know not, but I do. Apple has put it's weight behind it, it fits Apple's business model, therefore it's a given. Moving to Intel was just a temporary move after the IBM/Moto/Apple PPC treo went separate ways. Right now Apple can be dictated to by Intel, and it sure as hell aint happy about that because it has been burnt before. 

You do realize that if Apple gets rid of Intel it has to get rid of Thunderbolt(Light Peak), right? I simply don't see this happening anytime soon.

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post #51 of 95
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
You do realize that if Apple gets rid of Intel it has to get rid of Thunderbolt(Light Peak), right? I simply don't see this happening anytime soon.

 

This is a good point, but it begs the question: What IS Lightning, then? A "fully Apple" implementation of Thunderbolt tech with a different connector?

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post #52 of 95
The thought of Macs devolving into iOS devices, only bigger, fills me with dread. I would sooner switch to Windows than move to an ARM-powered Mac.
post #53 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

You do realize that if Apple gets rid of Intel it has to get rid of Thunderbolt(Light Peak), right? I simply don't see this happening anytime soon.

Thunderbolt doesn't seem to be gaining much widespread support and although the port is called Thunderbolt, the DisplayPort aspect of the protocol is the only part that most Mac users are utilizing. High bandwidth data transfer might be a luxury that 4K video editors enjoy but the majority of regular Mac users can get by with USB 3 or even WiFi for data transfers. Thunderbolt is a professional feature and we have seen how focused Apple is on professionals. When we hear reports of post PC computing being the future of the industry I can easily see Apple dropping Intel and Thunderbolt. If they decide to burn more bridges, that bridge is not too far.

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post #54 of 95

Surface as already prove how bad the idea of merging Desktop OS with Mobile device cpu is wrong. 

 

I think desktop computing will remain with x86 architecture until the end, Mac or WinTel common usage depend too much of running legacy softwares and hardwares to switch to an incompatible platform while keeping the Desktop PC as it is. Steve Jobs vision about a near future Post-PC era was right, Desktop PC will still be around for a long time, but I think Apple and other tech company will focus more on other platform beside the aging Desktop PC paradigm.  

post #55 of 95
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
Thunderbolt doesn't seem to be gaining much widespread support…

 

That would be due to exclusivity on Apple's part. It's directly integrated into Haswell, so we'll see what happens when that's launched.

 

If Intel has any sense and actually wants their own port to be adopted, they'll only make boards that include it.

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post #56 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

That would be due to exclusivity on Apple's part. It's directly integrated into Haswell, so we'll see what happens when that's launched.

 

If Intel has any sense and actually wants their own port to be adopted, they'll only make boards that include it.

I thought the exclusivity agreement ended already.

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post #57 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Thunderbolt doesn't seem to be gaining much widespread support and although the port is called Thunderbolt, the DisplayPort aspect of the protocol is the only part that most Mac users are utilizing. High bandwidth data transfer might be a luxury that 4K video editors enjoy but the majority of regular Mac users can get by with USB 3 or even WiFi for data transfers. Thunderbolt is a professional feature and we have seen how focused Apple is on professionals. When we hear reports of post PC computing being the future of the industry I can easily see Apple dropping Intel and Thunderbolt. If they decide to burn more bridges, that bridge is not too far.

It seems like I read about Thunderbolt capable gear on AnandTech every week even though it's only been out of Apple exclusivity for a little over 6 months now. I don't think anyone should expect for widespread adoption of a high-end feature to solidify overnight. Come January if we don't see a lot more Thunderbolt stuff at CES then I think we can start making reasonable predictions about its longevity.

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post #58 of 95
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
I thought the exclusivity agreement ended already.

 

So did I… 

 

Guess Intel gets to shove it down their throats.

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post #59 of 95
I have always had a Mac on my desk at my law office, but until Apple switched to Intel, I had my staff using PCs and had to always have access to a Windows PC because some of the software we have to use is Windows only. Now, I have a Mac on every desk in my office with Parallels installed for the programs that require Windows. A switch to ARM would be a huge problem for me and likely force me to switch back to Windoze PCs.
post #60 of 95

Apple achieved a great deal of market respectability when they switched to Intel, and it did drive sales for awhile. Intel spends a lot of money on marketing. But today, I'm not sure if it matters all that much what's under the hood. If anything, the graphics will improve making a switch away from Intel.

 

What I'm most concerned about is the gradual and seemingly inevitable rush towards the melding of OS X and iOS. Some functional overlap and interoperability can be a good thing when you own multiple Apple devices and a Mac but by and large, I do not want my $3500 Mac acting, behaving and operating like a $200 cell phone.

 

I'd like to save my finger gestures for when somebody cuts me off in traffic 1biggrin.gif

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post #61 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustMeToby View Post


Ok, here is a theory: Intel/ARM-hybrid-Macs

 

Let me explain: 

 

No, there is too much... Let me sum up:

 

Grand Central.

post #62 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

This would make playing games on iMac more difficult than it already is. And for what?
Little Appstore games are fun for a few minutes, but real huge game productions would never make it to the Mac if it were like that.
Not going to happen.

The main reason why games on the mac have been slow coming is the number of users of OS X vs. Windows, but they are starting to do more and it's better if they wrote the games natively rather than just porting them over.

 

With iPads, etc., there's a much bigger game market, even though they might not be the big names, they are starting to do it here and there.  the IPad 4 has a game console class A6X chip in it.  But these developers have to get their act together and just create them.

 

Either way, as I've said to engineering friends of mine, OS X is a portable OS, so they can put it on any processor they want to at any time. WIndows is written only for X86 processors and if they want to put it on another processor family, M$ has to do a complete re-write, hence Windows RT.  I seriously don't care which brand of processor they use. I care about speed, battery life when applicable, cost, ease of getting apps (re-write vs recompile), and future roadmap.

 

Apple might come out with maybe some low cost laptops kind of similar to what Microsoft is doing with Surface RT, and Google doing with their Chromebooks, since those are ARM based.  I mean, what if Apple came out with a product that could run all ARM based OS's, apps, and it was faster than everyone else's, about the same price or a little more with more hardware features or better screen, etc.?


So, it is conceivable to come out with a MacBookAir running on ARM processors and selling something similar for a lot less.

 

EIther way, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

post #63 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

ARM based Macs will come but Intel based Macs will remain.
While hiring AMD veteran Jim Mergard adds more CPU design expertise at Apple, it does not necessary mean they will drop Intel. Hec, they may license the basic x86 design from Intel or AMD and make their own desktop CPUs.
Time will tell.

 

The only way ARM Macs exist is in the form of a hybrid AMD/ARM configuration.

post #64 of 95
Apple had versions of Mac OS X running on Intel machines for nearly 7 years before the Switch to Intel got announced. Remember NextStep originally ran on Intel hardware and needed to be recompiled for PCC.

With that in mind, I am sure that Apple continues to keep it's options open by compiling for different hardware.

Also, remember that Mac OS X has a multi-run architecture build into it. That is what allowed PCC and Intel apps to be shipped in the same package.
post #65 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagladry View Post

Apple had versions of Mac OS X running on Intel machines for nearly 7 years before the Switch to Intel got announced. Remember NextStep originally ran on Intel hardware and needed to be recompiled for PCC.
With that in mind, I am sure that Apple continues to keep it's options open by compiling for different hardware.
Also, remember that Mac OS X has a multi-run architecture build into it. That is what allowed PCC and Intel apps to be shipped in the same package.

I don't have any doubt that Apple is CAPABLE of releasing OS X on ARM. I just doubt very much that they will ever do so. The downsides are immense and there's little upside.
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post #66 of 95
It will be very interesting to see what Intel has in the pipeline with Haswell next year and Rockwell the following year. This could impact how things work with the ARM chips.

I have faith in Apple but I'll be paying close attention.
post #67 of 95

For 2016, I'm envisioning an ARM-based 15" MacBook Air with 32 GB RAM and 1TB SSD, Retina display, and powered by a fuel cell battery, but no more than 5mm thin and less than 450 grams.

 

Oh yeah, with a fully-Multi-Touch all-glass keyboard/trackpad with haptic feedback. That's all-I can wait 1biggrin.gif.

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post #68 of 95

I am totally against this.

 

I dont care if its twice as fast and uses half as much power. I am worried about the chipline stagnating like the PPC line.

 

Intel is not standing still. They will always be innovating and moving forward. Lets not lose our compatiability with the rest of the world.

post #69 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

This is a good point, but it begs the question: What IS Lightning, then? A "fully Apple" implementation of Thunderbolt tech with a different connector?

Intel owned the technology, not the connector. I can't find enough information on it. Does it use the same protocols or something? Is bandwidth similar? Right now the comparison seems very broad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


You do realize that if Apple gets rid of Intel it has to get rid of Thunderbolt(Light Peak), right? I simply don't see this happening anytime soon.

Somehow I don't see this as a huge sticking point. The biggest area of concern would be maintaining some kind of compliance for thunderbolt peripherals that have been sold. While Apple can be fickle on ports, they usually don't immediately cut off expensive add-on devices. If this was the only major hurdle, I wouldn't see it as a big deal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

That would be due to exclusivity on Apple's part. It's directly integrated into Haswell, so we'll see what happens when that's launched.

 

If Intel has any sense and actually wants their own port to be adopted, they'll only make boards that include it.

It does need some kind of backing. When did they ever have an exclusivity agreement? My understanding was that it simplied debuted on Macs. Even the mini displayport license is royalty free, although it has exclusions.

post #70 of 95
I believe in it however apple would at least haft to times four, its current processors giving it 20 years or more, leaving apple years to decide weather or not to use it, giving it a 50/50 chance.
post #71 of 95
Lets get serious here, very few Macs are sold to hard core gamers. Whatever Apples decision two years down the road gaming will not be considered all.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

This would make playing games on iMac more difficult than it already is. And for what?
Little Appstore games are fun for a few minutes, but real huge game productions would never make it to the Mac if it were like that.
Not going to happen.
post #72 of 95
Yep complete BS. The primary reason ARM chips run at slow clocks is to manage power usage. Foundries where demonstrating 2GHZ Cortex A9 cores at least two years ago. There are many reasons why you wouldn't want to ship such fast cores though. Even Apple has run their processors slower than the maximum clock rates the chips are capable of. iPhone always has had the clock set relatively low to conserve battery power.

Look at it this way, Apple easily doubled iPad 4s performance over iPad 3. They did that with a modest clock rate increase, but does anybody really believe that A6X tops out a 1.3GHz? In the right platform I wouldn't be surprised to find it running at 2+ GHz.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnjnjn View Post

That seems to be in direct contradiction with the ARM 64bit Cortex A57 roadmap (up to 3GHz).

J.
post #73 of 95
Do you really think Apple would partner up on Thunderbolt and not demand the right to implement it anywhere they wanted? I really don't see this as a problem for Apple as it would have been rather foolish not to cover them selves in this regard. Even then TB is a special purpose interface that frankly wouldn't be missed on a laptop.

We could have a show of hands here with a count of people that use TB for anything other than a video monitor connection on their laptops. I just don't see TB as anymore of a long term play in Apple hardware than an optical drive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

You do realize that if Apple gets rid of Intel it has to get rid of Thunderbolt(Light Peak), right? I simply don't see this happening anytime soon.
post #74 of 95
That is irrational, people are talking about ARM powered Macs here not iOS devices. On the other hand if Apple locked the machines down like they do iOS devices then yes it would suck. In this case though we are talking about Macs as we know them today, differing only in the processor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by popnfresh View Post

The thought of Macs devolving into iOS devices, only bigger, fills me with dread. I would sooner switch to Windows than move to an ARM-powered Mac.
post #75 of 95

Intel no more can block Apple from using Thunderbolt with different processors than they can keep Apple from using ARM for the iPhone.

 

Learn more about the technology before proclaiming a collaboration between Intel, Apple and later dozens of OEMs pushing this to be a replacement serial i/o standard.

post #76 of 95
'Inevitable' is the CORRECT word.
post #77 of 95
I think this is just a sensationalist article with little to no content. Firstly, an a general note, basically nothing is really 'inevitable' and that's especially true for the tech-world. More specifically, none of the alleged advantages of a passage to ARM is real. Different devices work very well together, as today iPad, iPhone etc. with the Mac; the underlying processor architecture is irrelevant in this respect. Different architectures also don't mean more work, it's just a job for the compiler. Furthermore, Intel processors are vastly more powerful that ARM ones and that gap isn't likely to go away. Thus, it would be foolish for Apple to switch away from Intel in other machines than, let's say, MBAirs or similar products. The share of processors doesn't matter either, developping and maintaining a high-end chip line is more costly than licensing from Intel. So, Wu's arguments are none or, actually, downright false. Expect to see more ARM device but I'd venture to 'predict' that Intel chips won't be replaced in a very long time. At any rate such a step would be never 'inevitable' as it doesn't grant any advantages and there's no real pressure to do so. Talking about pressure: That may be the real reason for Apple's talk about replacing processors: Making Intel design more energy-efficient chips and better graphic units.

P.S. Not to mention that fact that a great attraction of Intel-Macs is the ability to natively run Windows and other OS' - it's a true allround machine. Apple wouldn't (I hope) needlessly axe that advantage (and there is no need at all).
post #78 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by samirsshah View Post

'Inevitable' is the CORRECT word.

 

Poppycock! It is it not inevitable at all. It may not even be likely. And, as the headline states, it isn't happening anytime [sic] soon.

 

This despite it being probable they already have full OS X running on ARM in the lab right now.

post #79 of 95
While I can see this being logical for some products at some point this is basically a bunch of malarkey...

The thing is Apple is still reaping the benefits of software development and third party hardware compatibility from the wider world by using Intel processors in their desktops and laptops. Even though Apple has built a large development community around the iOS and the ARM platform it's all very platform/task specific. More to the point there's really no reason for Apple to switch anything as they believe we are transitioning into the "Post PC Era." Essentially the iPad/iPhone/iPod, in and of themselves, are adequate "computers" for 90% of what most people need. MacBooks/iMacs are thin enough and light enough now to maintain their form factors for the next ten years...you can't make them much thinner. Screen sizes of over 9" are critically important for a lot of people, yet hand holding a display over 10"-12" is unwieldy over long periods of time. If one can meet their footprint destination (which Apple has) and maintain the highest level of compatibility for third party development needs (which Apple has) there's no legitimate reason to change.

If on the other hand MS transitions Windows (not an XBox variant) to ARM a significant amount of third party hardware/software development would shift that way and it would make more sense.
post #80 of 95
While I can see this being logical for some products at some point this is basically a bunch of malarkey...

The thing is Apple is still reaping the benefits of software development and third party hardware compatibility from the wider world by using Intel processors in their desktops and laptops. Even though Apple has built a large development community around the iOS and the ARM platform it's all very platform/task specific. More to the point there's really no reason for Apple to switch anything as they believe we are transitioning into the "Post PC Era." Essentially the iPad/iPhone/iPod, in and of themselves, are adequate "computers" for 90% of what most people need. MacBooks/iMacs are thin enough and light enough now to maintain their form factors for the next ten years...you can't make them much thinner. Screen sizes of over 9" are critically important for a lot of people, yet hand holding a display over 10"-12" is unwieldy over long periods of time. If one can meet their footprint destination (which Apple has) and maintain the highest level of compatibility for third party development needs (which Apple has) there's no legitimate reason to change.

If on the other hand MS transitions Windows (not an XBox variant) to ARM a significant amount of third party hardware/software development would shift that way and it would make more sense.
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