Apple may shun Intel for custom A-series chips in new Macs within 1-2 years

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  • Reply 101 of 183
    jd_in_sb wrote: »
    Apple already made a switch along these lines once, in a massive transition from IBM's PowerPC chips to Intel's line of processors.

    They also switched from Motorola 68000 to PowerPC

    If you really think about it: Motorola 68000--->PowerPC--->Intel--->ARM
  • Reply 102 of 183
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,076member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by staticx57 View Post

     

    Let me clarify. You cannot spread a thread across cores. The reason servers have many cores is because they run many threads at once, thats why they are fast. All of those mail apps and web browsers run single threaded and would benefit from a faster single thread.

     

    As for the samsung chips, you are not understanding it correctly. What it has is 4 high performance and high power usage cores and 4 low power and low performance cores. It is supposed to use any combination as it sees fit. We both know how well that works.




    I never claimed you can spread a thread across cores.  You are misunderstanding.  But they don't need a faster thread to show me my email.  Especially when they are getting the same CPU cycles because they are not time slicing it with a billion other threads.

     

    And the Samsung thing:  They don't run all 8 CPUs at once.  Whether they can can run 2+2 or 4+0 or 0+4 only or whatever is not important.  They don't run all 8 at once.  It is really a quad core phone that can configure which cores out of the 8 available to use.

  • Reply 103 of 183
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,007member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zoolook View Post

     

    This isn't going to happen.

     

    OK, so let's say the A10X is equivalent of somewhere between an Atom and an i3 chip (now). Right now, all MBPs and MBAs have either i5 or i7 processors. An i5 processor is significantly more powerful than an i3 processor, and has at least 2x the processing power of an Atom.

     

    So in 2015... the MBA will have a 2015 i5 processor, and in 2016 the MBA will have an A10X, which is be half as powerful as an i5 processor from two years prior.

     

    Aint gonna happen... I think some people are grossly over-estimating the general computing capability of ARM chips. Graphics and video, sure... general purpose compute? Not so much.


    Since we're having fun with numbers, let's look at current Geekbench benchmarks:

    iPad Air 2, A8X 1500MHz, 3 cores, 64-bit tests, 1807/4530 (single/multi)

    iMac Retina i7-4790 4000MHz, 4 cores, 64-bit tests, 4343/16522 (fastest Mac single CPU test score)

     

    If you take the A8X, add a 4th core, don't increase the CPU bus speed, the single CPU test would remain the same (no GCD assistance) but the multi-core score would/might increase 33% to 6040. Now put two of these quad-core CPUs into a MBA and you might have a multi-core score close to 12000, which would be all that bad. The single core speed would still be slow but hopefully more programers would use GCD and possibly all apps would run at multi-core speed. Add a third or fourth quad-core CPU and you might be looking at the same multi-core benchmarks as on the latest iMac, which should be plenty for a laptop, especially a smaller one.

     

    Season is open to blow my comment apart. I'm guessing on how this works so please educate me.

  • Reply 104 of 183
    hmurchison wrote: »
    I don't see why this isn't more abundantly obvious to many of you. 


    1.  ARM is going to own iOS and eventually the lowend OS X devices. 
    2. Intel isn't going away.   MBP, Mac Pro will remain Intel based. 

    How can you tell that this is happening. 

    Software

    Think about how many new API in Yosemite/iOS 8 were announced simultaneously,  Cloud Drive, Extensions, Photokit etc.  and I think we'll see this become a trend.  Both platforms are moving toward parity for good reason. Portability 

    Hardware

    Apple's not going to do $250 chromebooks but if I could buy a 12" ARM based Mac for my pre-teen for $499 i'd be all over it.  He doesn't need virtualization,  he doesn't need to game (we have an Xbox One)  I need the basics.  Net access,   productivity apps, security.   

    An A10X with 8 cores should do the trick.    Not everyone wants to do their work on a tablet.  

    How is Apple going to make money?   

    Here is your answer. 
     Apple® today announced that the first week of January set a new record for billings from the App Store? with customers around the world spending nearly half a billion dollars on apps and in-app purchases, and New Year’s Day 2015 marked the single biggest day ever in App Store sales history. These milestones follow a record-breaking 2014, in which billings rose 50 percent and apps generated over $10 billion in revenue for developers. 

    Apple is looking to go wide.   Huge Apple ecosystem where the headphones on your head connect the the iPhone in your pocket which is linked with the Apple Watch on your wrist which connects to your Apple TV at home.   They own the app stores.   If I had to make a prediction for this year it's going to be 

    a. Huge changes to the app store.  Everything will be unified from OS X apps to iOS and eventually Apple Watch. Apple will address the top complaints from developers 

    b. The MF? program will continue grow, Apple will focus as the licensing body ($$) and ensure compatibility. 
  • Reply 105 of 183
    staticx57 wrote: »
    chadbag wrote: »
     

    You missed my point.  I know that most normal day to day apps don't break down into nice neat pieces that you can spread amongst cores.  But when you have lots of cores, you can do other things like put each app on its own core.  The app only runs on the one core but it is not sharing that core with any (or many) other apps.  And the underlying OS can be made to utilize lots of cores, and high end apps will be made to utilize the cores.  So speaking about 32 or 64 cores is reasonable, because the cores are not equal to the cores we have on the desktop today.

    I have an older Mac Pro with dual multi core Xeon chips, btw, as well as a quadcore i7 based MBP.
    You honestly believe if that throwing cores at the problem would solve it, the whole industry would have went there years and years ago?

    The whole industry doesn't make both the hardware and the OS.
  • Reply 106 of 183
    ggfggf Posts: 42member

    I would bet London to a brick that Apple currently has versions of its operating system running on intel, AMD, and ARM processors. This is simply hedging ones bets. Apple was burned in the past by over reliance on the Power PC. They won't make the same mistake again. If Intel can deliver it, has nothing to worry about and the Mac will stay an intel machine. If they fall by the wayside Apple will consider its options. That is the way it should be

  • Reply 107 of 183
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    Idle thoughts:I wonder if Apple could have already re-written a good part of Mac OS X in Swift at this point. Surely there are parts we should expect to be rewritten for iOS and Mac OS X as major updates appear each year. I'd think we should also assume that Apple ported Mac OS X to ARM64 a long time ago.
  • Reply 108 of 183
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    The whole industry doesn't make both the hardware and the OS.

    So Apple has not figured out how to run OSX on the limited number of Intel chips for the past 8-9 years?

  • Reply 109 of 183
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    jameskatt2 wrote: »
    This story is B.S.

    An i3 is a crap Intel processor. For Apple to come out with a slower processor is B.S. particularly with the heavy demands that OS X places on the Mac hardware.

    It is easy to deflate this. Intel will allow licensed and custom-designed x64 Intel Processors from Apple just like ARM licenses its designs.

    Desktop CPUs have already reached the limits of physics to faster and faster processors. The primary growth is in GPU design. It would not give Apple more flexibility to create its own ARM designs that work at current desktop speeds because that would also run into the same problems Intel has, and the delays Intel has.

    How do you come to that conclusion? Apple does design their own ARM chips and SOCs from reference designs, but I've seen no evidence that Apple has ever done the same with Intel. I seem to remember Intel and Nvidia having some issues because Intel wouldn't let them use their iGPU in their (then) latest chips, despite some contract that Nvidia felt it had saying different.

    So why doesn't Apple buy Intel's reference designs, if you say that it's just like ARM? Why wouldn't there be a benefit to Apple's OS if they can build a chip and code that is specific to their machines, and not the industry at large with the chips they are using now, from Intel?
  • Reply 110 of 183
    mstone wrote: »
    How does Thunderbolt work on ARM?

    Good question!

    Maybe somewhat mitigated by USB 3.1.
  • Reply 111 of 183
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by chadbag View Post

     



    I never claimed you can spread a thread across cores.  You are misunderstanding.  But they don't need a faster thread to show me my email.  Especially when they are getting the same CPU cycles because they are not time slicing it with a billion other threads.

     

    And the Samsung thing:  They don't run all 8 CPUs at once.  Whether they can can run 2+2 or 4+0 or 0+4 only or whatever is not important.  They don't run all 8 at once.  It is really a quad core phone that can configure which cores out of the 8 available to use.


    You are still missing the point. Your mail app needs to work on 1 thread to show you your email. It will not be deprived CPU cycles since it is in the foreground it will get priority over other threads. This is the reason why Apple went with 2 fast cores in the iPhones since the 5 instead of going massively multicore like many others. At least Windows Phone seems to have gotten a handle on it as well. 



    If you want some more reading here:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6536/arm-vs-x86-the-real-showdown

     

    It shows why having many slower cores is worse than having a few fast ones.

     

    And no, they can use all 8 cores at once.

  • Reply 112 of 183
    zoolookzoolook Posts: 657member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

     

    Since we're having fun with numbers, let's look at current Geekbench benchmarks:

    iPad Air 2, A8X 1500MHz, 3 cores, 64-bit tests, 1807/4530 (single/multi)

    iMac Retina i7-4790 4000MHz, 4 cores, 64-bit tests, 4343/16522 (fastest Mac single CPU test score)

     

    If you take the A8X, add a 4th core, don't increase the CPU bus speed, the single CPU test would remain the same (no GCD assistance) but the multi-core score would/might increase 33% to 6040. Now put two of these quad-core CPUs into a MBA and you might have a multi-core score close to 12000, which would be all that bad. The single core speed would still be slow but hopefully more programers would use GCD and possibly all apps would run at multi-core speed. Add a third or fourth quad-core CPU and you might be looking at the same multi-core benchmarks as on the latest iMac, which should be plenty for a laptop, especially a smaller one.

     

    Season is open to blow my comment apart. I'm guessing on how this works so please educate me.


     

    Your number above shows that tripling the core count actually makes each core around 84% efficient. Adding a 4th core would likely reduce that further, so you'd be lucky to hit 5800 I would think. Then doubling that again would likely further reduce the per-core performance, so nowhere near 12,000 - maybe more like 9,000, which is still only barely half the speed of the i7.

     

    All of this using a synthetic benchmark specifically designed to show multi-core performance, and to be honest I am not convinced that benchmarks across such different platforms and OS's are even equivalent, although perhaps they're close enough. In the real world, things simply don't scale anywhere near that well, and even if they did, it puts a lot of pressure on developers to make use of 8-cores. Want to know how many applications on an 8-core Mac Pro use all 8 cores? Very few!

     

    When you look at real world performance, the iPad Air 2 is still much slower than a MBA. Page rendering, number of audio tracks possible in an app like Garage Band or virtual instruments on something like Korg's 'Gadget' are significantly different. If you upped the thermal limit, increased the power, scaled the core speed and upped the core count, it's not clear how well performance would increase, but I think ARM has a long long way to go. Most of the really geeky sites, like Anandtech and others, put the performance of the ARM chips roughly in line with Intel chips of around 10 years ago.

     

    Oh... and if you look at very similar ARM chips in Android devices, running 4 (or more) cores, they perform worse still than iOS. Much of iOS'es apparent speed, is an exceptionally slick Operating System. I love OS X as much as the next person here, but it's MUCH more bloated than iOS.

  • Reply 113 of 183
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post



    Idle thoughts:I wonder if Apple could have already re-written a good part of Mac OS X in Swift at this point. Surely there are parts we should expect to be rewritten for iOS and Mac OS X as major updates appear each year. I'd think we should also assume that Apple ported Mac OS X to ARM64 a long time ago.

    I am sure they have, but since Swift is also designed for OSX wouldn't Intel chips benefit as well?

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Zoolook View Post

     

     

    Your number above shows that tripling the core count actually makes each core around 84% efficient. Adding a 4th core would likely reduce that further, so you'd be lucky to hit 5800 I would think. Then doubling that again would likely further reduce the per-core performance, so nowhere near 12,000 - maybe more like 9,000, which is still only barely half the speed of the i7.

     

    All of this using a synthetic benchmark specifically designed to show multi-core performance, and to be honest I am not convinced that benchmarks across such different platforms and OS's are even equivalent, although perhaps they're close enough. In the real world, things simply don't scale anywhere near that well, and even if they did, it puts a lot of pressure on developers to make use of 8-cores. Want to know how many applications on an 8-core Mac Pro use all 8 cores? Very few!

     

    When you look at real world performance, the iPad Air 2 is still much slower than a MBA. Page rendering, number of audio tracks possible in an app like Garage Band or virtual instruments on something like Korg's 'Gadget' are significantly different. If you upped the thermal limit, increased the power, scaled the core speed and upped the core count, it's not clear how well performance would increase, but I think ARM has a long long way to go. Most of the really geeky sites, like Anandtech and others, put the performance of the ARM chips roughly in line with Intel chips of around 10 years ago.

     


    You should add in the fact that mobile CPUs and Laptop/Desktop CPUs are build entirely differently. Mobile CPUs typically use a transistor type that run at a low GHz but leak little power where as laptop/desktop chips use transistors that leak a bit more but run at higher speeds.

     

    The idea behind this is much better explained here:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5072/nvidias-tegra-3-launched-architecture-revealed

  • Reply 114 of 183
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,215member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    Good question!



    Maybe somewhat mitigated by USB 3.1.

    I look at USB 3.1 and Type C connectors as almost an admission that Apple is going in another direction.  Thunderbolt will be on the high end Intel stuff but much of what a consumer needs is handled fine with 3.1/Type C 

  • Reply 115 of 183
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

     

     

    The point of Grand Central Dispatch was to take the complexity of task (thread) scheduling out of the developer's hands. Developers can simply create a queue and submit tasks to it... the system then handles which processing units to send the tasks to. This happens at run-time, so, yes, software will automatically see the benefits of having more cores, but only if their apps were designed to be multi-threaded (use GCD) in the first place.




    I am still waiting for those apps to appear - GCD currently seems like great vaporware.

  • Reply 116 of 183
    satchmosatchmo Posts: 2,699member
    Sure, no reliance on Intel, but the reliance will simply be moved onto Samsung or some other foundry.
  • Reply 117 of 183
    pdq2pdq2 Posts: 270member

    Kinda funny to see folks so worked up over this. The A8x already has a considerably higher transistor count than many Intel mobile chips, and at least some of the transistors in the Intel chips are to (essentially, at this date) emulate the old x86 architecture/instruction set.

     

    I have no doubt Apple, controlling both the software and the hardware, could get better performance (or performance per watt, or performance per dollar) than Intel which has to support 30-year-old software cruft. As a result, I think (at least some of the) Mac probably _will_ move to ARM. Whether it makes a clean break from the past, or retains some Windows compatibility is a legitimate question that I'm sure Cook will give full consideration to.

  • Reply 118 of 183
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by chadbag View Post

     

     

    They don't need to make a CPU with equivalent performance to an intel chip.   For the same energy and thermal footprint, they can use many of their chips to replace a single intel chip.    A single quad core i7 looks to be around 80-85W depending on model (65/84/88 for the three listed on wikipedia).  I was not able to find power consumption on the A8X but found "tablet CPU power consumption" to be about 4-8W in estimates.  So lets use 8, and kick it up to 12W for an improved version of the A8X with faster clock speed, etc.  Now stick 6 of those in one machine, each with 3 cores.  That is 18 cores of 64bit ARM goodness, running 30-50% faster (based on our power bump estimates), vs 4 in the intel, for about the same or less power/heat usage/output as the single intel chip.

     

    I suspect that such a thing, once engineering had optimized things for that many cores, etc. would run quite well.




    And somehow they are supposed to fit 8 of the A-series SoC's into the same physical footprint of an Intel Core-series die?  Good luck with that.

     

    Remember - Apple makes things smaller.  Trading off 1 compact powerful CPU / GPU for 8 isn't going to accomplish that.  Especially when you realize that you would have to have a MASSIVE board to interface all of that with the RAM and PCI devices, even if you have zero PCI-E slots.

     

    Also, it doesn't exactly blow my hair back to hear that in a few years they might catch up with i3.  An i3-based box is barely able to handle 1080p digital video decode and stream along with 5.1 audio without dropping frames.  Get back to me when they can compete with a Xeon from 5 years ago (Westmere-EX).

  • Reply 119 of 183
    rogifan wrote: »
    It's a research note. How is that a big story? A big story would be a press release from Apple announcing an ARM Mac. An analyst speculating on what Apple might do in the future isn't breaking news.

    It's a "breaking" research note from Ming. :lol:
    You gotta remember that AI holds Ming in unusually high regard.
  • Reply 120 of 183
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ggf View Post

     

    I would bet London to a brick that Apple currently has versions of its operating system running on intel, AMD, and ARM processors. This is simply hedging ones bets. Apple was burned in the past by over reliance on the Power PC. They won't make the same mistake again. If Intel can deliver it, has nothing to worry about and the Mac will stay an intel machine. If they fall by the wayside Apple will consider its options. That is the way it should be




    Absolutely correct. And as I've said elsewhere, Intel is on the verge of causing the same problems as when we had the PowerPC fiasco - any doubts? Just look at how many threads complain about the reliance on a long-overdue Broadwell, not to mention Skylake (or whatever stupid codename Intel comes up with) and their attached dependencies (TB 3 etc.). Mac Pro? Waiting. New TB Display? Waiting. And on and on.

     

    In fact, and as much as I'd hate it, the OS X ARM transition will come MUCH sooner than anyone would expect; prepare your handkerchiefs. 

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