Will Apple develop a Hybrid Intel-ARM based Mac?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Evidently other vendors are looking at this strategy





Quote:

Warren East, ARM's CEO, revealed that Dell and unnamed others are building hybrid PCs that have two modes: A mobile phone-like mode where you can do email and web browsing on very little power. Then you can turn on the main CPU and have "Big Windows" mode that acts like a regular PC.



Not a bad idea, if a bit complicated. But more importantly, if Dell is doing this, why wouldn't Apple, who bought an alleged ARM license with PA Semi and has an ARM OS (iPhone OSX) with a lucrative App Store waiting in the wings? Imagine being able to run an iPod touch OS for three days on your MacBook on one charge instead of running full Mac OSX Leopard.



This actually sounds pretty solid. Imagine you're just doing basic web surfing or iWork data creation. Switch to the ARM processor and now your battery goes from 2 hours left to 6.



I'm not buying the anti piracy benefits as there are no Pystar mobile clones.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,758member
    I can see this being great for saving battery life on mobile devices including notebooks, but still have a powerful computer when necessary. Something like the MacBook Air would be a great candidate for this IMO.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,145member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macxpress View Post


    I can see this being great for saving battery life on mobile devices including notebooks, but still have a powerful computer when necessary. Something like the MacBook Air would be a great candidate for this IMO.



    It kind of dovetails in with dual gpu Nvidia motherboards where the discrete graphics can be turned off in lieu of the integrated graphics.



    Intel will be adding that to their IGP/Nehalem based systems IIRC.



    Imagine a Macbook [Pro] that has a total low power mode. Click a button and



    1. Your applications quit (you could have essential apps like iWork relaunch under the ARM processor.



    2. Your discrete GPU (if you have one) would shut off and graphics would switch to IGP



    3. SSD- it'd be great if the SSD could have a low power mode that drops it's power consumption down %50 as well.



    4. Wifi and Bluetooh would be turned off (could be overriden if desired)





    A setup like that might yield 12 hour battery life.
  • Reply 3 of 8
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,758member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    It kind of dovetails in with dual gpu Nvidia motherboards where the discrete graphics can be turned off in lieu of the integrated graphics.



    Intel will be adding that to their IGP/Nehalem based systems IIRC.



    Imagine a Macbook [Pro] that has a total low power mode. Click a button and



    1. Your applications quit (you could have essential apps like iWork relaunch under the ARM processor.



    2. Your discrete GPU (if you have one) would shut off and graphics would switch to IGP



    3. SSD- it'd be great if the SSD could have a low power mode that drops it's power consumption down %50 as well.



    4. Wifi and Bluetooh would be turned off (could be overriden if desired)





    A setup like that might yield 12 hour battery life.



    Sounds great to me!
  • Reply 4 of 8
    lorrelorre Posts: 396member
    Well... mobile processors have had the ability to throttle down in speed for what? 10 years now? I believe the lowest setting on Core 2 Duos is something like 450MHz. Must be possible to "block" the CPU into using something like that as default. Seems more logical than a second CPU. In the end, you'd just wind up with an iPhone and a notebook on one and the same logic board... wouldn't make that much sense to me.
  • Reply 5 of 8
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,145member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lorre View Post


    Well... mobile processors have had the ability to throttle down in speed for what? 10 years now? I believe the lowest setting on Core 2 Duos is something like 450MHz. Must be possible to "block" the CPU into using something like that as default. Seems more logical than a second CPU. In the end, you'd just wind up with an iPhone and a notebook on one and the same logic board... wouldn't make that much sense to me.



    Yes Intel procs have Speedstep but if we're talking about an ARM core here we're talking about powerconsumption that is still an order of magnitude lower than a CPU throttled.



    Take an ARM Cortex MP A9 it would be fast enough to run word processing and more but the power consumption is mobile class as in phones.
  • Reply 6 of 8
    olternautolternaut Posts: 1,376member
    In my opinion, I think if it is possible to create a hybrid cpu that does the job of both an x86 processor and an ARM chip then that is the way Apple should go. Unless of course Apple has a better idea.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,695member
    Especially considering that multi core Cortex processors are possible. The performance of netbooks based on such won't be that bad. For even more constrained systems like tablets it would be even more important to go with the power savings ARM offers.



    The big negative with ARM is the lack of a 64 bit play. Like it or not that will be important in the Tablet and Netbook space very soon. Memory chip tech is slowly catching up and all that address space will alllow for many running user agents.



    So while I don't consider ATOM a requirement as far as object code I do see it as the only play for the 64 bit world. People trying to promote such systems based on the idea that X 86 compatibility is important are missing the boat. Most of the software that will be important on these systems hasn't been writen yet.





    Dave
  • Reply 8 of 8
    Several companies (notably ASUS) are selling PCs which have a small embedded Linux OS (usually on a bootable USB flash device built into the mobo) for this sort of thing, but of course that uses the computer's main CPU and other hardware.



    I don't know how many people actually use it, though. If these "pre-OS" OSes are popular, then I guess adding a separate ultra-low-power CPU for them is the logical next step. It just seems to me like something very few people will bother with.



    And how many of us regularly reboot our computers anymore?
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