Apple wants to move Macs away from Intel chips - report

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  • Reply 161 of 221


    A move away from Intel chips is not unthinkable.  The PPC architecture had its devotees.  But IBM and Moto's stagnation brought about its end.  Politics, I guess.  Plus Apple's marketshare probably couldn't justify the investment required to take on Intel.


     


    Now?  Matters changed somewhat.


     


    Mac sales have torpedoed from less than 1 million per quarter to 4 million to right past it...to 5 million sales per quarter give or take a few hundred thousand...and still, just about...growing...though it has slowed up significantly.  We may find out soon what the head room is for a 'premium' and 'cool' computer is.  Of those 5 million?  It's laptops 4:1.  The laptop is the 'new' desktop.  And you can sit it on your desktop...your laptop...in your bedroom...on the go.  I don't like them.  But I recognise why they're popular.  They're so much more powerful now than when I first took a dislike to them.  They're sleeker and more powerful, have far more powerful gpus than they used to, waaay more ram...and...far bigger HDS...and faster ones(!) if you include SSD...not to mention the performance of the i7 bringing quad cpu to the laptop.  Given all that?  All the pre-eminent advantages of the desktop have been swallowed by the laptop.  And sales reflect that.  Instead of the clunk of 'most' desktops...people are voting with their wallets.  The current Macbook Pro retina is a work of art.  It's the best Mac they make.  By a mile.  It's superb.  And the screen makes the 27 inch iMac blurry.  Sorry, it does.  And I'm an iMac owner.  But I have to hold my hands up.


     


    So, what advantages does the desktop still have?  Well.  Bigger screen for starters.  But the laptop can 'dock' at a 27 inch screen?  And...faster cpu?  (But not by much...)  ...faster gpu?  (Not by much...)


     


    So.  I can see why laptop are super popular.


     


    That doesn't stop Wizard and myself wanting our dream Apple desktops though.  The current frankenstein desktop range by Apple is far too extreme...a richness of poverty.  The mac pro is a joke in price and specs.  The iMac is over a year out of date.  15 months?  Shocking.  (Has it really taken this long to develop a new one..?)  and the mini is a over priced sawn off biscuit tin.  (Though sexy biscuit tin...with no k/b, mouse...groans...etc.  no screen...bundled...groans more...and priced over £500 just for that?  Give me a break...all the reasons why some people won't buy Apple and I can understand why....)


     


    So (my 3rd 'so'... :D) what does this have to do with moving away from Intel.  Quite a lot I should imagine.  The vast amount of cpus are now Arm style in terms of Apple's computer business (and for those in denial the iPhone 5 - *waves at you know who... and the iPad and the iPods are computers...and more powerful computers than the old G4s from a mere decade ago.  Times have changed...)  We're talking how many cpus?  25 million iPhone 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 (sorry, can't resist saying '5') cpus?  15 million iPad cpus?  How many millions iPod cpus?  What we talking here?  50 million cpu sales per quarter of the Arm variety?


     


    Now.  Let's look at the Mac sales (though impressive in context of Mac lore...)  5 million give or take?  Out gunned by a factor of 10:1!!!  


     


    Looking at the laptop to desktop sales?  Wow.  But looking at the ratio of Apple's revenue in terms of volume and profit of Arm/iOS to Mac/Os X?  The writing is on the wall.


     


    As soon as an Arm chip, 64 bit et al is good to go?  We can expect Apple to begin seriously moving away from Intel.  Not ready yet.  But it's inevitable.  The evidence is there in the iPhone?  The iPod?  The iPad?  3 big clues right there.  We're already IN the transition.  Look at the 'iOS' 'integration into Mac Os X.


     


    SoC is where we're headed.  Big mainframes of massive computers that send man to the moon (allegedly...though I still want to know more about how they got past the radiation belt and that coke bottle...and why we've not been back there since...) are a thing of the past...  It's all about the tiny.


     


    iPhones can murder G4s.  Progress.


     


    The sheer volume of ARM and power (these things are really surging forward in terms of cpu processing and gpu processing.  The lastest iphone 5 looks just about PS3 class in graphics.)


     


    Intel?  Look in trouble to me.  If not now, in the future.  The Wintel hedgemony faces it's first real threat as iOS, Android, tablets, phones hoover and demolish new Wintel sales.  M$ stumbles with Windows released.  And more people have 'enough' computing power for their needs these days.  Which again reflects in the iMac to Pro sales...Prosumer vs 'niche' and Laptop to iMac sales....and in iPad to Laptop sales.  Ah.  We see a pattern.  There's a sliding scale of 'good enough' and Jobs was right.  For 9/10 things?  A tablet is good enough and going to get even better!


     


    It has a retina screen and with the iPad 4?  Set to get even more powerful in cpu and gpu power.  How long before you can 'dock' it on a 27 inch retina screen?  It's already got a higher resolution than than most iMacs?


     


    Will we have ARM chips capable of running Photoshop?  Lightwave?  Video?


     


    Well.  We have iPhones and pads that can already image edit, edit hi def video, play games (the g4  could only dream about...) in apps that have a far less bloated and efficient footprint.  Hundreds and thousands of apps in a far competitive market...to dwarf the Mac market and eclipsing even the Wintel market now.  I have one app on my iPad that is super fast.  It would make Corel's Painter blush.  It has layers and brushes and no interface or feature clutter.


     


    An Arm future?  It's already happening.


     


    What does this mean for desktops?  Well.  Look at the drawn out update schedule.  From the Pro to the Mini.  If I was Apple?  Why not just make one box.  A cube-esque shape that can take 'more' powerful components...than a less than 1 inch laptop.  Simple.  From integrated crappics to mainsteam to workstation.  


     


    Done.  They get to steamline the desktop model to just 'one.'  They let customers buy the cpu/gpus they want within a limited choice.  ie am I a light, prosumer or workstation user.  Job done.  Price can reflect that.  Plug it into the 27 inch retina display?


     


    Jobs a good 'un.  This could last until the giant iPads wipe out desktops (or become the new desktops and supercede Laptops as the 'new' desktop...all things in time sort of thing...) or until iPads become powerful enough to be docked on a bigger screen...or adjacent to it...like we have now.  Desktop just becomes semantics in time.


     


    Will this happen in the next year?  Probably not.  But the signs are there that we're moving OS and iOS devices in that direction.  An iPad can already do most of the stuff a G4 could do.  I'd expect that accelerate past the Macs of only a few years ago within a year or so.


     


    An Arm chip in a Mac?  I wouldn't rule it out.  Apple likes that control.  They have it in all their iOS devices.  They'd surely want it on their Macs or they wouldn't have moved to Intel.  ie to get the power savings to push their hardware designs.  And if Arm becomes powerful to facilitate that?  It's going to (and is) happening.  They're just waiting for the power to weight ratio.  And as soon as that hits, good buh bye Intel.


     


    Look at the size of the iOS apps market.  What do you need Windows for?  (Cue example of a handful of apps...that will soon be swallowed by said juggernaut...  Wintel has finally met it's nemesis.  iOS.  It's a deadly enemy that is taking the Wintel 'juggernaut' out...piece by piece...in a pirana Tsunami...)


     


    Lemon Bon Bon.

  • Reply 162 of 221
    rlowerlowe Posts: 21member


    Seems like we're going to have the UltraMac: superthin, 13", 15" & 17" multitouch retina screen, A10 perhaps hahaha.

  • Reply 163 of 221
    sipsip Posts: 210member


    Moving from Intel to AMD doesn't make sense unless Apple licences the AMD tech in the way it does ARM chips. Apple is able to take the ARM chips (Apple once owned a percentage of ARM) and change/improve on the design through it own in-house chip-design facility which employs some brilliant minds (these people must be frustrated knowing that they can produce better silicon than what is out there).


     


    Intel and Apple do not share the same roadmap. Just like Flash allowed Adobe some control over Mac OS, Intel has control over what CPU goes into Macs. And Apple (or Steve Jobs) hate being held back by the non-development of better and faster solutions.


     


    Apple ported OSX way before the move to Intel chips, and I'm sure a lot of the rumours then were actually leaked by Apple to test the waters. The biggest challenge Apple faced at the time was how to prevent a quick and easy installation of OSX on cheap WinPCs (hackintosh is too much hassle for the average computer user) -- a move to in-house designed CPUs would allow Apple to breathe easier.

  • Reply 164 of 221
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    sip wrote: »
    Moving from Intel to AMD doesn't make sense unless Apple licences the AMD tech in the way it does ARM chips. Apple is able to take the ARM chips (Apple once owned a percentage of ARM) and change/improve on the design through it own in-house chip-design facility which employs some brilliant minds (these people must be frustrated knowing that they can produce better silicon than what is out there).

    Good point. When I said that there's no way Apple would replace Intel with an alternative, I was referring specifically to ARM which is the subject of this rumor. That's not going to happen - no way will they take the massive performance hit.

    It is, as you point out, possible that they could switch to AMD for some or all of their systems without the downside of switching to ARM. I'm not familiar enough with AMD's current offerings to know how plausible that is or what sacrifices might need to be made, but it's far more plausible than switching to ARM.
  • Reply 165 of 221
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    y2an wrote: »
    Apple's PowerPC chips were made by Motorola, not IBM (who owned the architecture). The key reason Apple moved to Intel was that Motorola was more interested in embedded systems where the integrated peripherals matter more, than driving to maximize absolute CPU performance.

    The platform was a 3-way alliance as a co-development. It did have roots in the POWER architecture though.

    Motorola made the G3 and G4 series.
    IBM made the G5 series.
    I think they both shared designs in the 60x series.

    Both of these companies dropped the ball and that held back the Mac platform. Motorola didn't want to make the performance chips and IBM couldn't or wouldn't make a G5 efficient enough for notebook use. I think PA Semi probably came along a bit too late. They may have had some other drawback that wasn't well-publicized.
  • Reply 166 of 221
    strat09strat09 Posts: 158member


    Intel has a great line of future processors... if apple is really thinking of getting rid of them they will have to make their own processors for their macs. Why waste time and money into something that's already being built by someone else... just laser an apple logo on the processor. And if they think that intel processors are crappy, it might be that apple wants to stop computer failures due to the fact that they don't exactly know how intel processors work like they do with their own custom A chips on iDevices.

  • Reply 167 of 221
    jeffdm wrote: »
    The platform was a 3-way alliance as a co-development. It did have roots in the POWER architecture though.
    Motorola made the G3 and G4 series.
    IBM made the G5 series.
    I think they both shared designs in the 60x series.
    Both of these companies dropped the ball and that held back the Mac platform. Motorola didn't want to make the performance chips and IBM couldn't or wouldn't make a G5 efficient enough for notebook use. I think PA Semi probably came along a bit too late. They may have had some other drawback that wasn't well-publicized.

    Still incorrect ...

    IBM also made G3 and G4 processors. At the early days of the G4 Moto couldn't make enough processors, so IBM helped out.

    And its also a unknown secret that Apple wouldn't pay for a POWER5L und POWER6L and 6UL design, so they went to Intel.

    At these days IBM is the king of the hill in design and manufacturing and always was.
  • Reply 168 of 221
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Almost everyone seems to be ignoring that the article itself says "isn't' imminent" on this, which is tech-speak for "not in the next five years", given that this is how far out they look.


     


    It's not happening next year or the year after. ARM sucks right now. It can't possibly provide what Intel does in the computer realm. 

  • Reply 169 of 221
    v5vv5v Posts: 1,357member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    Good point. When I said that there's no way Apple would replace Intel with an alternative, I was referring specifically to ARM which is the subject of this rumor. That's not going to happen - no way will they take the massive performance hit.

    It is, as you point out, possible that they could switch to AMD for some or all of their systems without the downside of switching to ARM. I'm not familiar enough with AMD's current offerings to know how plausible that is or what sacrifices might need to be made, but it's far more plausible than switching to ARM.


     


     



    There's nothing in the article on which we're commenting to suggest that ARM is the subject of the rumour. It didn't specify what Mr. Cook considered an alternative, and discussed the possibility of both AMD and ARM.
  • Reply 170 of 221


    ...aren't AMD getting into 'low' power in a more serious way?  *(Seeing as they can't hurt Intel, at the moment in a 'head to head' performance battle?)


     


    Maybe becoming an ARM cpu maker..?


     


    The phone and tablet market are...huge...


     


    Lemon Bon Bon.

  • Reply 171 of 221

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Almost everyone seems to be ignoring that the article itself says "isn't' imminent" on this, which is tech-speak for "not in the next five years", given that this is how far out they look.


     


    It's not happening next year or the year after. ARM sucks right now. It can't possibly provide what Intel does in the computer realm. 



     


    Of course it's not happening tomorrow...or next year or the year after...


     


    Not in the next five years?  I'll guess we'll see.  But there's a lot of pieces lining up on the chess board.


     


    Arm doesn't suck for phones or tablets though.  And that's why Apple are using them?  Designing their own chips based on them..?


     


    In the way that laptops have chased down desktops in terms of performance...tablets will chase down laptops in terms of performance too.


     


    How far behind?  And for what apps?  How many years will it take?  1?  2?  5?  10?


     


    Lemon Bon Bon.

  • Reply 172 of 221
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,116member
    Lots of things make me doubt this happening in the next decade. The investment it would take to build a high performance chip like Intels would make the A6 seem tiny, desktop and laptop chips are still over an order of magnitude ahead of ARM chips. And Apple cannot use x86 instructions in their own chips anyways, the licence is exclusive to Intel, AMD, and Via. Apart from that, the patent portfolios of AMD and Intel make it nearly impossible to build an x86 of such performance even if they COULD use the ISA. Apple has a lot of sway with Intel, the relationship is already very beneficial to both, I cannot see this happening. It's not like the move from PowerPC to x86, as PowerPC was falling behind on efficiency at the time and had no viable mobile CPUs in the G5 architecture, while Intels roadmap continues to be more mobile oriented with Haswell and future chips. Calling it now, not gonna happen.

    On the other hand, if Apple bought out AMD...That could be interesting. Although I'd hope they would let AMD continue to sell chips in the non-mac space so Intel doesn't become a monopoly.
  • Reply 173 of 221
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,116member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    This should probably read:

    "... tests have shown that almost any ARM based chip, even non customised versions, are significantly faster and more efficient than any Atom chip yet made."

    would be closer to reality. 

    Depends on how you see things, I mean it takes two Cortex A9 cores with good useage on both to beat a single Atom core clock for clock, and that's ignoring dual core Atoms and the upcoming architecture change.

    Even the link from the article shows the single core smartphone variant of Atom coming in second for Javascript, although that's also a test of software.

    1000
  • Reply 174 of 221
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,116member
  • Reply 175 of 221
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    tipoo wrote: »
    Thunderbolt alternative, which isn't really Thunderbolt at all.

    If it's just an incompatible offshoot, then it has even less chance of getting traction than Thunderbolt has.
  • Reply 176 of 221


    Since someone mentioned POWER chips earlier I have a question:


     


    Has Apple compiled OS X to run on POWER chips and if so how did it perform?


     


    Gene King

  • Reply 177 of 221
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ericblr View Post



    not a good idea


     


    I disagree. It could be a very very great idea. 


     


    but not at this time. Those A5, A6 etc chips that 'sources' are claiming would be how Apple wants to go are far from even close to ready for such a move. They are great in iPhones and iPads but unless Apple really intends to drop all possible usefulness for Pro users, cancel Final Cut etc, they aren't strong enough for computers by a long shot. Maybe in 8-10 years but not really any sooner. 


     


    But even then I don't think they would put them into computers. I think at that point they would be looking at an iPad/iPhone that would be powerful enough to be THE computer for many basic users that need to be portable. No more getting a Macbook Air or 13 inch MBP. Your iPad can do it all, the power would be there, the apps would be there. Folks that were getting iMacs for checking email, playing online bridge etc would dump those for the iPad. Or perhaps keep the computer as a base station (maybe moving to a mac mini on the living room tv for when you need to see something on a display. or perhaps at that point the ipad could have an app that lets it be the display)

  • Reply 178 of 221
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by willgonz View Post



    This would be a huge mistake as Mac Sales have gone up since the switch to Intel. Consumers wanted the option to load Windows natively if they choose so to be compatible with other computers.


     


    I don't know a single consumer that really cared about Windows on their Mac. 


     


    Now geeks, developers etc (who are maybe 10% of Mac users) sure. 


     


    And I'm not so sure about your market share numbers. I think it all depends on how you define a computer and its uses. Depending on that defination, the ipad could qualify and that puts a big dent in Microsoft's market share. Add Android tablets into that and Microsoft is the vast minority. 

  • Reply 179 of 221
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by geneking7320 View Post

    Since someone mentioned POWER chips earlier I have a question:


     


    Has Apple compiled OS X to run on POWER chips and if so how did it perform?



     


    POWER is just the successor to PowerPC. They're not moving back to IBM.

  • Reply 180 of 221
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    POWER is just the successor to PowerPC. They're not moving back to IBM.

    PowerPC is more of a derivative of POWER. But it's complicated.

    I don't see why Apple would go back after closing out that chapter a few years ago anyway.
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