Pegatron likely to be Apple's manufacturer for future ARM Mac

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Reports from the supply chain suggest that long-time Apple partner Pegatron will be tasked with assembly of any ARM-based Mac product.

Steve Jobs during the Intel Macs announcement


The latest report about ARM-based Macs is courtesy DigiTimes, who reiterate that Pegatron will be assembling the machine in the future.

A report about project "Kalamata" suggesting that Apple is well along the path to making ARM-based Macs laid the foundation for the most recent rumors. The most recent being a new Apple project reportedly codenamed "Star" with a number of "N84."

The latest rumors claim that the utilize a touchscreen, SIM card slot, GPS, compass, and a water resistant housing -- suggesting a different form-factor entirely than the MacBook Air or MacBook. Reportedly, a small batch of these devices have been manufactured by Apple supplier Pegatron and shipped to the company's headquarters in Cupertino.

The claims fail to mention screen size, processor design, format, or keyboard -- which doesn't suggest a MacBook or MacBook Air, but an iPad-like device. Given those differences, the original report speculates that "Star" could be the banner under which Apple is developing a widely rumored ARM-based MacBook or, alternatively, an iOS notebook.

Prototypes in circulation are said to boot using an Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) like Apple's current Intel-based Macs, which the original report suggests points to an ARM-powered MacBook convertible. However, the machines are said to run a "derivative" of iOS, not macOS.

Digitimes has verifiable sources within the supply chain. Where the publication falls down is predicting specifics for Apple products.

Tuesday's report from DigiTimes lies somewhere in between, falling short of detailing a machine. But, it isn't clear if report is a copycat following the recent revelations that Apple was working on the project.

Even the original report about "Star" isn't clear, with other sources claiming it refers to one of the iPhone models set to be released later in 2018. The original report on "Star" claimed sources familiar with the matter, and little else.

Going back a decade

The prediction of another CPU architecture shift isn't revelatory, given Apple's history. Apple internally started the shift to PowerPC chips in 1991, with the transition happening for consumers a bit more than two years later. Additionally, the company had Mac OS X builds for Intel chips since nearly the launch of the operating system, with that shift happening about five years later.

More specific rumors that Apple plans to switch away from x86 to its own custom silicon have been circulating for a long time. Rumblings have been heard since at least since 2008, when the tech giant purchased chip designer PA Semi for a reported $278 million.

Industry scuttlebutt about ARM Macs followed in 2011, when a report claimed Apple would deliver a desktop version of its 64-bit ARM platform within one to two years, gossip seemingly backed up by a buy-in into a chip fabrication plant in 2013. As with the rest to that point, that rumor didn't come to pass.

In late 2010, Apple began a concerted effort to build out its CPU design group, a years-long project involving rounds of poaching, including former Texas Instruments engineers, and new acquisitions like efficient chipset maker Passif.

Other key moves include the purchase of a chip fab once owned by Maxim and the establishment of SoC-related research and development facilities in Israel and beyond.

Rumors of an ARM-based Mac cropped up again in September 2017, when a report claimed the company was looking to cut back on its reliance on Intel.

Apple's A11 Bionic processor has a single-core processor speed of 4205, with a multi-core speed of 10122. The results are very similar in performance to the 2016 and 2017 i7 MacBook Pro for single-core performance, and the multicore performance of the original 15-inchMacBook Pro with Retina Display.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,643moderator
    Couldn’t this be something to be used in Apple’s autonomous vehicle project?  A dash-mounted interface to the vehicle for passengers to interact with?   Just wildly speculating here.  
    asciiwatto_cobraFuture-Proof
  • Reply 2 of 17
    Unless such a Mac can still run Intel-based software natively, then count me out. I'm not giving up my entire software library again. Especially not now that I actually have one.
  • Reply 3 of 17
    BigDannBigDann Posts: 24member
    Don't get your underwear twisted up! It's not going to compete against the Intel/MacOS systems.

    Apple will continue using ARM co-processors like they did with the touch bar on the MacBook Pro's and the newer iMac Pro.

    Apple is trying hard to get back into the educational space that Goggle's ChromeBook has managed to take a big bite out of. Apple will be producing an iPad clamshell type system to compete against the Chromebook. I also see this system as a good leader into poorer countries which want cheaper systems than what Apple sells today.

    I can also see Apple creating a home server for HomePod & HomeKit devices using their APU's.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 17
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,882member
    Unless such a Mac can still run Intel-based software natively, then count me out. I'm not giving up my entire software library again. Especially not now that I actually have one.
    This isn't 1994. Most software for Macs today is written in high-level languages like Objective C or Swift, not assembler. Most software can easily be recompiled and distributed seamlessly over the Internet. Getting an ARM version of an application should, in most cases, be just as easy as downloading a bug-fix update. 


    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 17
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,614member
    Couldn’t this be something to be used in Apple’s autonomous vehicle project?  A dash-mounted interface to the vehicle for passengers to interact with?   Just wildly speculating here.  
    I kinda doubt it.   At least in the sense of the new OS being auto systems only.  Instead what im expecting is an OS heavily balanced for interaction via ML/AI type technologies.  Such an OS would be great in a car though.  
  • Reply 6 of 17
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,366member
    Couldn’t this be something to be used in Apple’s autonomous vehicle project?  A dash-mounted interface to the vehicle for passengers to interact with?   Just wildly speculating here.  
    It seems unlikely Apple would use Mac and macOS for that project. That seems like something with its own HW and an OS developed from the ground up from OS X, possibly called carOS.

    Plus, with the timeframe we're at with autonomous vehicles, the unit sales for such a project, and possible security/QC issues with manufacturing components for an autonomous vehicle to be used in the US, as well as other countries, I question Pegatron being brought in at this point in the process, if ever.

    If this rumour is true it seems much more likely that it's about a Mac, or even another personal computing device, but not part of an autonomous vehicle.


    Unless such a Mac can still run Intel-based software natively, then count me out. I'm not giving up my entire software library again. Especially not now that I actually have one.
    If you like your Mac you can keep your Mac.

    I'd be surprised if an ARM-based Mac would support x86_64, but I'm also not expecting it to completely replace their entire lineup for many years to come. I'm envisioning a lower-end system which will allow Apple to have fast but inexpensive (for Apple) Macs that work great for the majority of users that don't need to wait for companies like Adobe or MS* to update all their noncompliant apps to support AArch64 or who want to run Bootcamp or a VM of Windows.

    I've been talking about the potential for an ARM-based Mac for years (when even the notion caused Apple fanboys to cry out in pain at the thought) and yet I'll still be buying an Intel-based MacBook Pro because my primary need requires it.

    By the time Apple is ready to do away with Intel-based Macs completely I bet you'll be saying "I wish Apple would finally move the rest of the product line to ARM."


    * With Apple's continued efforts with SW development and Adobe and MS' many, great iOS apps, it's quite possible that they won't be slouches this time around.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 17
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,614member

    Unless such a Mac can still run Intel-based software natively, then count me out. I'm not giving up my entire software library again. Especially not now that I actually have one.
    Well it has been nice knowing you!!!   Unfortunately this is thinking from the past, Apple really cant move forward without modern technologies.  The easy path for Apple is its own ARM chips though i could see them  having custom i86 chips madec. 

    Beyond that i dont see problems with most peoples software libraries.  Apple added infrastructure years ago to the App store to handle this.  Many apps will only require a quick recompile, as such i expect a rather complete app store ratger quickly after product release.  

    Beyond all of that Apple apears to be using their heads here making ARM based "Macs" a seperate product.   Frankly the separate product lines are all about people like you that think they need something they really dont need.  It likely wot take more than 3 months for people to realize software isnt the issue.

    I actually want to see these new machines!    Hopefully they are Apples way forward on the desktop and laptop markets.  ARM based Macs could be a huge win for Apple.  As long as the OS isnt completely hobbled that is.  
      
  • Reply 8 of 17
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,366member
    wizard69 said:
    Couldn’t this be something to be used in Apple’s autonomous vehicle project?  A dash-mounted interface to the vehicle for passengers to interact with?   Just wildly speculating here.  
    I kinda doubt it.   At least in the sense of the new OS being auto systems only.  Instead what im expecting is an OS heavily balanced for interaction via ML/AI type technologies.  Such an OS would be great in a car though.  
    I think we should get through the 5 levels of autonomous driving before we start talking about a Mac-like experience in an automobile.

    By the time that happens there will likely be a change in culture. For example, if one were to design an automobile or an airplane of the future a decade ago you'd probably put a display in front of every passenger (like a setback display). Now we see airlines cutting out those displays because users have better systems—with much better displays—that already have their content and can easily tie into an on-board server via WiFi for other in-flight entertainment, information, and internet. I think the trend will likely be toward more personalized devices.

    If we're going to talk about Apple designing HW for a car's dash system, I think the recent rumours of curved displays makes a lot more sense in this regard as it can wrap around in the curved space we tend to have for instrument panels on the dash.
  • Reply 9 of 17
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,614member
    BigDann said:
    Don't get your underwear twisted up! It's not going to compete against the Intel/MacOS systems.

    Apple will continue using ARM co-processors like they did with the touch bar on the MacBook Pro's and the newer iMac Pro.

    Apple is trying hard to get back into the educational space that Goggle's ChromeBook has managed to take a big bite out of. Apple will be producing an iPad clamshell type system to compete against the Chromebook. I also see this system as a good leader into poorer countries which want cheaper systems than what Apple sells today.

    I can also see Apple creating a home server for HomePod & HomeKit devices using their APU's.
    Well it is hard to say from these leaks if this is a Chromebook competitor.  The way i look at it is that Apple has few choices here and ARM based machine to eventually replace the Macs is the only rational long term solution.  

    Will it happen this year - who knows.    All i know is that they would need custom i86 chips to stay in that world.  
  • Reply 10 of 17
    19831983 Posts: 1,115member
    Makes more sense that this new product line is a iOS laptop rather than a new Mac. Macs will probably continue to be developed alongside an iOS laptop line for a few more years yet I reckon. ARMs single core performance being so close to an Intel x86 family chip is impressive, but multi-core still seems to be way behind current x86 processors.
    edited May 29 watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 17
    Whatever you do Siri and Alexa listens to what happens at your home. Good luck with life.
    blastdoor said:
    Unless such a Mac can still run Intel-based software natively, then count me out. I'm not giving up my entire software library again. Especially not now that I actually have one.
    This isn't 1994. Most software for Macs today is written in high-level languages like Objective C or Swift, not assembler. Most software can easily be recompiled and distributed seamlessly over the Internet. Getting an ARM version of an application should, in most cases, be just as easy as downloading a bug-fix update. 


    He refers 2005 when we switched from PowerPC to Intel - not 1994 that tool libraries barely existed and there was no switches. Recompilation of ObjectiveC or C/C++ code is not everything. You need to account for architecture as well. It is not just instruction set. If you did low level programming you would knew that either code accounts for it or you need translation layer overhead between OS and your app.
  • Reply 12 of 17
    rcfarcfa Posts: 721member
    blastdoor said:
    Unless such a Mac can still run Intel-based software natively, then count me out. I'm not giving up my entire software library again. Especially not now that I actually have one.
    This isn't 1994. Most software for Macs today is written in high-level languages like Objective C or Swift, not assembler. Most software can easily be recompiled and distributed seamlessly over the Internet. Getting an ARM version of an application should, in most cases, be just as easy as downloading a bug-fix update. 



    The issue is, that a good portion of software is continually discontinued. AU plug-ins, software like Aperture, etc. are running fine, but may stop running without a Rosetta-like environment, and may stop running altogether, if Apple a short time later discontinues support for the Rosetta-like environment: there is precedent...
  • Reply 13 of 17
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 323member
    rcfa said:
    blastdoor said:
    Unless such a Mac can still run Intel-based software natively, then count me out. I'm not giving up my entire software library again. Especially not now that I actually have one.
    This isn't 1994. Most software for Macs today is written in high-level languages like Objective C or Swift, not assembler. Most software can easily be recompiled and distributed seamlessly over the Internet. Getting an ARM version of an application should, in most cases, be just as easy as downloading a bug-fix update. 



    The issue is, that a good portion of software is continually discontinued. AU plug-ins, software like Aperture, etc. are running fine, but may stop running without a Rosetta-like environment, and may stop running altogether, if Apple a short time later discontinues support for the Rosetta-like environment: there is precedent...
    Yeah, the PowerPC to Intel switch was an absolute disaster.  Apple handled it incredibly badly.

    They did somewhat better with the 68k to PowerPC switch, but it was still a mess. 

    And now they're planning on intentionally breaking 32-bit apps for no reason, and another architecture switch?  No thanks, I'm good with Intel now.  I doubt I'll buy another Mac if they pull this stunt, Windoze is still not as good as macOS, but it's far better than it was when they did this the last time.
  • Reply 14 of 17
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,714member
    ... which the original report suggests points to an ARM-powered MacBook convertible. However, the machines are said to run a "derivative" of iOS, not macOS. 
    I wonder what the possibility would be for a convertible type unit (iPad like with detachable keyboard/trackpad) that could run either iOS or macOS, but share all the components, files, etc. That might actually be something pretty cool if you could truly use one unit like an iOS device or a Mac. It would have to be lower-end (on the Mac scale) until they design a desktop-ARM, and wouldn't run x86, but for that market, that might be OK.

    The problem with this idea, is that I get the impression Apple thinks iOS devices are just fine for the computing needs of the above market. So, this kind of thing wouldn't make much sense in how it seems Apple is currently thinking.

    wizard69 said:
    Beyond that i dont see problems with most peoples software libraries.  Apple added infrastructure years ago to the App store to handle this.  Many apps will only require a quick recompile, as such i expect a rather complete app store ratger quickly after product release. 
    It would be a pretty big problem for most of the prosumer to pro market. Yes, maybe some of the necessary apps would recompile, or already exist for the Mac. But, a lot of people use VMs with Windows for testing and development.
  • Reply 15 of 17
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,071member
    Stopped reading as soon as I saw “DigiTimes.”
  • Reply 16 of 17
    Couldn’t this be something to be used in Apple’s autonomous vehicle project?  A dash-mounted interface to the vehicle for passengers to interact with?   Just wildly speculating here.  

    Totally! You’re probably right
  • Reply 17 of 17
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 916member
    BigDann said:
    Don't get your underwear twisted up! It's not going to compete against the Intel/MacOS systems.

    Apple will continue using ARM co-processors like they did with the touch bar on the MacBook Pro's and the newer iMac Pro.

    Apple is trying hard to get back into the educational space that Goggle's ChromeBook has managed to take a big bite out of. Apple will be producing an iPad clamshell type system to compete against the Chromebook. I also see this system as a good leader into poorer countries which want cheaper systems than what Apple sells today.

    I can also see Apple creating a home server for HomePod & HomeKit devices using their APU's.
    They'll need a far better cloud software offering to do that. Still if they opened up CloudKit as a full 3rd party platform that services both mac's, iPad's and a new cross-over device they'd have everything they'd need to take on ChromeBook in Education, the home and at work.

    They could even have a system that accelerated the apps to near native performance on Apple Platforms while still letting them run in any HTLM5 browser.
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