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

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 93
    zindakozindako Posts: 468member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 93
    marvfoxmarvfox Posts: 2,275member
    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.



  • Reply 3 of 93
    hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 753member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 93
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,129member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 93
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 446member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 93
    katastroffkatastroff Posts: 103member
    under Xcode, programming for OSX or iOS is fairly similar.
  • Reply 7 of 93
    juandljuandl Posts: 228member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 93
    mustmust Posts: 6member
    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...
  • Reply 9 of 93
    dluxdlux Posts: 666member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 93
    hal 9000hal 9000 Posts: 101member
    Just hope the folks at Intel take this seriously and come up with an even better processor for the next MBA!
  • Reply 11 of 93
    bigmac2bigmac2 Posts: 637member
    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
  • Reply 12 of 93
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saarek View Post


    Not so sure why people are so against this



    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.
  • Reply 13 of 93
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    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....
  • Reply 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!
  • Reply 15 of 93
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 93
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    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.



    ++++++
  • Reply 17 of 93
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,720member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 93
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Oh, great. Another set of dual-binary OS'.



    Which is why this rumor is crap.
  • Reply 19 of 93
    addicted44addicted44 Posts: 822member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 93
    jasenj1jasenj1 Posts: 916member
    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.
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