Rumor: Apple once again said to be strongly considering ARM-based Macs

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  • Reply 81 of 130
    delreyjonesdelreyjones Posts: 335member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shojin Monkey View Post



    Who says that Apple would have to ditch ALL Intel chips? 

    Definitely agree.  At the high end, does Apple have a compelling reason to say 'no' to high-performance Intel chips and Windows compatibility? I don't think so.  But at the low end, does Apple have a compelling reason to say 'no' to reduced power consumption, more affordable CPUs, and complete ownership of the architecture?  I don't think so.  

     

    Critics say that it's challenging for Apple to manage two CPU architectures in its Mac line?  That sounds like defeatism to me.  I don't think Apple's afraid of that challenge.

  • Reply 82 of 130
    rkevwillrkevwill Posts: 224member
    There are still IT departments out there, that refuse to support Mac. Anyone in the corporate world knows this. At this time, either remotely or via Parallels etc. To give this up, would be not only irritating, but for me, a terrible choice. How many remember not being able to use PowerPC native apps when the OS switches took place? This would be equally as bad. It would cause me to not buy a new mac, for the first time in over 25 years.
  • Reply 83 of 130
    alandailalandail Posts: 757member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iMat View Post

     

    So, if Apple uses ARM for their Mac line. What happens? They will:

    a) have to move the entire Mac line to ARM (from the Air to the Pro) or

    b) have OSX run on two different architectures simultaneously. Which is a complete mess.

     


     

    It would be b (they aren't going to move the MacPro to ARM anytime soon) and how would it be a complete mess?  The OS already supports multiple binaries in a single app.  That's how the transition to x86 went so smoothly.    It's just another compile, and the installer/app store can leave out the version that isn't for the target computer.  Most of the developers code already supports multiple architectures because so many apps run on both iOS and MacOS.  Once the developers update their apps, most people won't even notice a difference (aside from longer battery life and lower cost).  Imagine a $699 MacBook Air with 10 hour battery life.  It would instantly be Apple's best selling Mac. 

  • Reply 84 of 130
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    guytoronto wrote: »
    This rumour again?
    Yeah hopefully it is true!

    Good grief. No, Apple will not move any Macs to ARM technology. Why? Windows compatibility. One of the strongest arguments against Macs in the PowerPC age was that they could run Windows applications. A move to Intel killed that argument.
    Yes it was an argument in its day but times change. Such a machine could be very valuable if it provided a way to also run iOS apps. Even if it doesn't Mac OS is now a healthy platform all on its own.
    No Macs are mixed into Windows environments will incredible ease. Switching away from Intel on some models would confuse the market.
    That is due to software not hardware.
    It would be an incredibly stupid thing to do. There is zero real benefit to moving to ARM with the Mac.
    There are huge benefits to Apple. For one it gives them access to the silicon it is on the silicon where innovation takes place these days.
    Take a look at the Windows platform. How well is Windows RT doing?

    Which has nothing to do with this.
  • Reply 85 of 130
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    iqatedo wrote: »
    As someone who has had 4 operating systems running on a single Mac, I sympathise with your position. I also had Windoze running very successfully on my 12" PowerPC PowerBook (remember those) however and in fact, in what I was using it for which required a USB <----> RS232C dongle, it was 100% reliable.
    For me it might mean switching to an ARM based Linux.
    However, perhaps it is time to move on (although I am not necessarily arguing for the move as I do not understand fully the implications). Some benefits might be, a code base that converges with iOS and the efficiency gains contingent with that and >>>also, greater self-determination.<<<
    That last bit hit the nail on the head! People need to realize that if Apple wants to continue to innovate they need access to the silicon. Silicon is effectively the PCB of the 80's. I would imagine this would be the overwhelming issue at Apple today with the Mac line because of Intel Luke warm attitude to custom SoC.
    I believe that Apple was badly let down toward the end of the PowerPC era with processor development on their behalf failing badly. Perhaps Intel's processor developments too are headed in a direction that will not favour Apple before too long.
    It is already happening, even AMD has recognized the importance of doing custom SoC to enable partner ideas. Intel seems to be stuck, they acknowledge the need but don't seem to have a plan.
    Another advantage would be greater scope in specific system variants, beyond iOS and Mac OS X both. The time is coming I think.

    Yep that is all part of access to the silicon. I've tried to drum this into people in another forum but access to the silicon is a must as we move to more complete SoC. A move to ARM on these machines will be a must if Apple can't get Intel or AMD to let them do as they wish with the silicon. Intel really doesn't get it at this point as they have failed badly with ATOM.
  • Reply 86 of 130
    ksecksec Posts: 1,569member

    I increasingly believe this has more to do with market force rather then technical merits or arguments. Everyone's budget in consumer electronics has a limit. People are merely shifting their expense from Desktop / Laptop to Phone and Tablet. Which means no matter how well Mac are doing against PC, in the Post PC world the whole PC industry is shrinking, and with less emphasis on performance, more are likely buying a cheaper Desktop / Laptop.

    In order for Apple to continue with its current profit margin while selling roughly the same volume they will have to cut their BOM cost. It happens that nearly 30% of BOM cost are going to Intel. So for the Mac line to survive the Post PC era it will have to move on. And it is likely the lower priced Mac will make actually bring the highest Mac Market Share that apple had yet seen.

    Mac Pro will likely stay on x86 in the forseeable future. I think the professional market, as well as professional apps generally have different needs to consumer market. Therefore it will have the Pro to continue serve those needs. I hope Apple will make a cheap enough Mac Pro, ( without Xeon and Dual Graphics ) for the Prosumer group. But given Apple's history this will unlikely to happen.

    I do see one important problem though. Thunderbolt, how is that going to work out when it is totally Intel based tech? Switching back to DisplayPort only?   

  • Reply 87 of 130
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    wwchris wrote: »
    Yup, unfortunately, remove the ability to run windows natively and I would have to leave the Mac behind. I may not need to use windows often, but when I do, it is essential. Moving to the intel chipset was the only reason I was able to go back to using macs.

    I can understand your position here as there is lots of software at work that only runs in Windows. I don't see Apple letting go of this market though. Rather I can see them offering two Mac solutions and letting the customer pick what is best. They will do that until running production of a Intel based Macs is no longer possible due to the economics.

    In general though your needs here are not uncommon but at the same time you are part of a rapidly dwindling group. Apple needs to look out for its future and that means access to the silicon something a Intel can't seem to wrap its head around. So to put it bluntly it isn't the 80's, 90's or even the 00's anymore, the general population just doesn't give a damn about the CPU anymore.
  • Reply 88 of 130
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    appex wrote: »
    The main problem is incompatibility with the rest of the world (read Windows and Linux on Intel x86).
    It isn't an issue for iPhone, iPad, Android nor many of the E-Book readers out there. In fact we heard the same noise when iPad was released and yet a superior solution took off.
    Hopefully Apple will keep the Mac x86, or they will repeat previous catastrophic mistakes.
    What mistakes? For its time PPC was an excellent solution as was the 68000 before that. Times change and frankly Intel just isn't a big draw anymore.
    In such a case, the only way would be migrating to Windows.
    For some Windows is a mandatory choice, far more think it is a mandatory choice. Many though have broken away from the mess that is Windows.
    Actually, what Apple should do is just the opposite: eventually migrating iOS to the x86.

    That will never happen at the rate Intel is going. Apple needs access to that silicon to deliver the same sort of innovation as is seen in the I products group. Until Intel is willing to bend over backwards and build what Apple needs i86 has a very dim future at Apple.
  • Reply 89 of 130
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    paxman wrote: »
    Nail on the head. Apple was always criticized for not being upgradable and yet I remember reading many years ago that only a tiny percentage of people (Windows users included) ever did upgrade anything at all on their computers. Windows compatibility is important but the ability to run Windows on your Mac is less important. Specially, as you say, on a MBA or similar. The number of people who buy MBAs to run Windows exclusively must be tiny.

    Tiny and getting smaller everyday! However that doesn't mean that the feature of running Windows isn't important to Apple or those users. This is why I see a new product or branding that eliminates to confusion about the entire line switching to ARM.

    As for upgradeability that boat has left the shore a long time ago. The past is the past and you don't get performance doubling every year anymore. If you look at HASWELL the only good reason for most users to upgrade would be the better GPU. Haswell refresh sucks even more. By the time a real significant improvement comes, with respect to your current hardware, you end up needing to buy a complete computer to get the new chip sets, RAM interfaces and so forth. Frankly I don't see many people offering up real justifications for upgrades, in the end you need a new motherboard, processor and RAM all at once these days. So you might as well buy a whole computer.
  • Reply 90 of 130
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    lkrupp wrote: »
    Would such a machine be compatible with existing OS X software?
    Once recompiled yes.
    Would a Rosetta like emulator be required for the transition?
    Nope! Why because there would be no transition, this would be an alternative to the i86 machines if Apple had any sense. Beyond that Apple has a big hammer in App Store to get developers to distribute both ARM and Intel binaries.
    Would developers jump on board? 
    I do think so. There are a number of reasons I can think of. For one the Windows world has hit the skids. Second, the pressing of new binaries should be rather simple for developers. Third, new hardware means new opportunities to make money and the Mac is one of the few growth platforms going. So if this lowers the cost of entry it would be nothing but net gain. Forth, a low cost machine means interest in a different segment of apps that you might find on a workstation, this means new opportunities. Fifth, if the rumors about lots of cores are true the platform might enable workstation like performance on very low cost hardware, this could be an incentive to port demanding apps to the platform. The so called embarrassing simple to parallelize apps that need lots of compute resources.
  • Reply 91 of 130
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    imat wrote: »
    Apple was on PowerPc and then switched to Intel because PowerPc was moving ahead too slowly.
    And then they went "mainstream" with Intel, with a supported CPU which received updates regularly, along with everybody else.

    In "mobile" they can do what they want since they have such a high market share and sell in volumes. But Apple didn't start its mobile adventure with a custom made CPU/GPU. They first went "mainstream" there as well.

    So, if Apple uses ARM for their Mac line. What happens? They will:
    a) have to move the entire Mac line to ARM (from the Air to the Pro) or
    b) have OSX run on two different architectures simultaneously. Which is a complete mess.

    If Apple moves to their own CPU (sort of like the A series) then they will have to constantly upgrade and develop an entire CPU/GPU system just for their Mac line, which doesn't sell enough to support such an investment.
    So all in all.
    No. Just no.

    It doesn't make any sense now to switch from Intel to ARM (in my opinion) because ARM is pushing slowly into "computer" territory and doesn't offer a wide enough array of CPUs (to my knowledge) to cover the Mac line from "Mini" to "Pro".

    Really this platform doesn't need to cover the entire Mac product line. All they really need is a competitive machine to undermine ChromeBooks and other cloud based machines. ARM gives them the hardware to do this.

    By the way people think A series here but I highly doubt it will be the same chip. Same cores maybe but cores sitting within a vastly different chip. Here I'm talking faster RAM interfaces, faster Flash support, laptop like I/O and so forth. RAM is a huge problem in the current iOS based devices so this has to be addressed for a notebook.
  • Reply 92 of 130
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    sandor wrote: »
    I am sure Apple had prototype ARM-based laptops much early than that. Remember, the Newton was ARM-based.
    Could be or they may have been fishing for iPad engineers.

    I'm also very certain that Apple caused ARM to have a sudden interested in performance and 64 bit processors. So from that standpoint I do believe they have been thinking about this for a long time.
    In terms of R&D, i would think it imperative that Apple has a laundry list of devices running multiple configs simply to stay abreast of what is in the realm of market possibilities for the next 1, 3, 5 and 10+ years. 

    This is another possibility, I can even imagine new Power based machines in one or more Apple labs.

    In any event if Apple does this it is all about preparations for the future.
  • Reply 93 of 130
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    I'm sure Apple tests lots of things in their labs. They would be stupid not to. And I wouldn't be surprised if we get a fanless ARM based Mac notebook, one that has retina display and 24 hour battery life. That would be awesome.

    There is something significant here. as you point out it wouldn't be about the use of an ARM SoC if they went that route. It would be about enabling a design that wouldn't otherwise be possible. That would just be one part of it rather than a fad element.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by delreyjones View Post

     

    You seemed so sure of yourself and knowledgeable that I wasn't inclined to question you.  Nevertheless, I went over to store.apple.com just to check some details, and they say that all the iMacs and MacBook Air and MacBook Pro use the i5.  Am I missing something here?  It looks like one of Mac Minis uses an i7, and the Mac Pro uses something else (presumably even more powerful).  

     

    So if I combine what you say with what the Apple store says, the current ARM chips are almost equivalent to what Apple uses in most of their Macs. So if today the ARM is in the ballpark, is it strange to speculate that tomorrow the ARM might be used in the Mac?  Seems plausible to me.


    Going by i5 and i7 is a terrible way to disambiguate things. Blame intel for that. They don't guarantee anything, because what they indicate changes based on the class of the cpus in question. For example dual core i5s, which are restricted to notebook chips, have a total of 4 logical cores due to hyperthreading. In chips binned as desktop class, mainstream, or whatever they decide to call it, there are quad i5s. They still have 4 logical cores, but these have hyperthreading disabled. The 4 logical cores are all physical cores. In terms of actual performance differences between i5 and i7, that also varies in both benchmarks and real applications.

  • Reply 94 of 130
    vaporlandvaporland Posts: 358member
    Simple.

    Windows is dying. Windows 8 and the iPad have been terminal cancer for windows.

    OSX and iOS are unix based - inherently multiplatform. All apple has to do is release a new version of Xcode and OSX & apps will run just fine on ARM.

    Apple's done this three times now: 68k to ppc, ppc to x86 and x86 to ARM.

    Added bonus: all iOS apps will [B]also[/B] run under OSX. They already do this under Xcode in emulation but the Ax ARM processors will run iOS apps natively.

    forget parallels. Remember how bad windows used to run on the 680x0 and PPC? It sucked - poky and slow.

    Apple doesn't have to care about windows anymore. Their margins will skyrocket when they stop buying processors from Intel.

    Also by not supporting the wintel cadre, they will help kill wintel once and for all.

    Microsoft is in total disarray. Their dev tools for mobile suck.

    Imagine touchscreen MacBook Airs that run everything (OSX &iOS) except windows for the price of iPads.

    Nobody will weep for Microsoft. Nobody.
  • Reply 95 of 130
    The question is not whether Apple will split its code base. We obviously already have IOS on ARM and OS X on Intel, and there are a LOT more IOS devices than OS X devices out there. Adding a larger ARM based device, either a laptop with touch screen or with improved multi touch track pad or an IPad Pro of some kind would simply extend their current strategy rather than depart from it.
  • Reply 96 of 130
    And w
    Why is the assumption always that ARM would have to replace Intel? Is there any reason that certain apps and parts of the OS couldn't be compiled for both architectures, and the motherboard contains both? Just like the GPU can be switched to low power integrated when the task allows, and switched to the higher power discreet as needed, the ARM chip could do most of the basic stuff, at very low power, and then hand off to the intel chip when needed? I can even imagine something similar to the new FTL compiler for Safari, so code is compiled first for ARM, and when parts need more power they are JIT compiled for Intel, with the Intel CPU handling the compile so it happens fast.
    Aren't they already doing a bit of this with GrandCentralDispatch and OpenCL? Where the actual bare metal code is compiled on the machine for the specific CPU/GPU environment available? And, added benefit, when running on wall power, the machine is now an 8 core machine, and certain "background" tasks could go to ARM while Intel does the heavy lifting. And all PowerNap functionality would be ARM, to minimize drain while not actively working.
    I am layman to be sure, so if there is some fundamental law of the universe that makes this not possible, be gentle. ;)

    Gordon
    What do you gain from this? More space used, greater price too, sw changes and issues... No thanks.
  • Reply 97 of 130
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,469member
    Awesome! Since it will most probably be lighter than a MacBook Air, it should be called the MacBook Helium
  • Reply 98 of 130
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 1,146member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post





    I can understand your position here as there is lots of software at work that only runs in Windows. I don't see Apple letting go of this market though. Rather I can see them offering two Mac solutions and letting the customer pick what is best. They will do that until running production of a Intel based Macs is no longer possible due to the economics.



    In general though your needs here are not uncommon but at the same time you are part of a rapidly dwindling group. Apple needs to look out for its future and that means access to the silicon something a Intel can't seem to wrap its head around. So to put it bluntly it isn't the 80's, 90's or even the 00's anymore, the general population just doesn't give a damn about the CPU anymore.



    The general population most certainly gives a damn about the CPU when changing it breaks their software. 

     

    Apple handled the Intel transition reasonably well up until the point that they released 10.7 and broke everything PowerPC.  People remember that, it's still fairly fresh, and people are still really pissed about it.  There are two groups you don't screw over when you're selling computers, the IT department and Grandma.  Grandma can't run AppleWorks any more, and she doesn't know exactly why, but she absolutely knows it has something to do with some CPU changing thing.  She's not going to want to learn a new program again.  And the IT guys are trying to keep some obscure something running, and Apple pulled the rug out from under them yet again, while they were still reeling from the XServe being killed.

     

    No, the Macintosh will likely not survive another CPU transition.  If Apple's goal is to move away from computers and into iDevices only, another CPU transition anytime soon will do it.  Maybe in 10 years when we've forgotten the pain from the last one, but not now, not next year, and not in five years.

     

    And I say this as an old-school Apple guy, I go all the way back to the Apple ][+, and I would have to seriously consider the second platform transition of my life, the first one being from the Apple ][ to the Macintosh.  And if I'm considering it, how many others would not even hesitate?

     

    And a two-platform Mac is absurd.  That kind of fragmentation would destroy the Mac just as quickly as a switch.  People don't like uncertainty, they don't like software fragmentation (can I run these apps on this Mac?  No?  Ok, how about these apps on this Mac?  Not all of them there either?  Huh.  How about if I buy this Windoze computer?  All of them have versions that run there?  Ok, I'll get that one, then.) and people don't want small, thin, and light nearly as much as Apple thinks they do.  Until Apple took the choice away, I know very few people who picked the 15" Retina over the 15" real MacBook Pro.  People actually DO like being able to upgrade their computers, even if they're never actually going to do it. 

     

    ARM desktops and laptops are utterly unnecessary, extreme thinness in a computer is completely unnecessary, and the only reason Apple would do this is as a step toward killing the Macintosh and with it their computer division.  Maybe Apple does want to become a consumer device only company, they've certainly destroyed their server market already.

  • Reply 99 of 130
    What Windows only software is used by a significant percentage of MacBook Air users? The people I know, especially the younger ones, would appreciate being able to use all the great IOS apps on their laptop a lot more than they would bemoan the possible loss of Windows only apps.
  • Reply 100 of 130
    trobertstroberts Posts: 702member
    appex wrote: »
    The main problem is incompatibility with the rest of the world (read Windows and Linux on Intel x86). Hopefully Apple will keep the Mac x86, or they will repeat previous catastrophic mistakes. In such a case, the only way would be migrating to Windows.

    Actually, what Apple should do is just the opposite: eventually migrating iOS to the x86.
    What makes you think Apple doesn't already have iOS running on x86, as well as, OS X running on ARM? Having both OSes running on both CPUs will make it easy for Apple to create a device and then decide which OS/CPU combination would make the most sense.

    Here is how I see the future of Macs:
    1. The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro continue using x86_64 processors. People needing Windows will have the same options as they do right now so they lose nothing.
    2. The MacBook is brought back, powered by the ARM processor.
    3. The Mac mini, when updated, will have two models; one with an x86_64 CPU and the other with an ARM CPU.
    4. The iMac will continue using x86_64 processors for many years. Apple will probably wait until enough developers update their OS X software to run on ARM before offering an iMac with an ARM processor.
    5. The Mac Pro will stay with Xeon processors for a very long time.

    The biggest news at WWDC2014 will be:
    1. OS X running on ARM, starting with the MacBook.
    2. iOS running on x86_64

    OS X on ARM has already been rumored and releasing a MacBook with that OS/CPU combination won't be a big surprise. iOS on x86_64 would be a "just one more thing" surprise, and in many ways is more important than OS X on ARM. Microsoft has released MS Office for iPad (i.e. iOS version) so iOS running on x86_64 will make it easy for people to go to the App Store, get the iOS version and run MS Office on their Mac. When people can get MS Office without needing MS Windows then they can get a Mac with an ARM processor.
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