Why Apple will move Macs to ARM, and what consumers get

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  • Reply 21 of 148
    tedz98 said:
    Saying ARM gives Apple control over the hardware/software stack doesn’t really help me understand the benefits of the switch. If Intel wasn’t missing targets would Apple still be doing this? There’s a bumpy road ahead to make the transition. It will be challenging for users. What about Pro level users? Can ARM work for them? Apple has shown they can integrate ARM processors such as the T2 chip into the existing intel platform. Maybe they should be going after graphics first? Or maybe they want seemless app capability across iOS and MacOS? Or maybe they want just a single OS? Any insights from the experts?
    Apple has always been a company that likes to have control of its own future. The design and production of your own chips is no small feat and for years now Apple has relied on third parties to carry that weight for them. If Intel was able to meet their targets it's possible this relationship would continue but it's not clear how long. Similar to their switch to Intel the reason is Apple is not able to create products it wants with the products intel is releasing or lack thereof. As a close partner with intel apple has better vision into Intel's road map. Intel says it's going to create these products and their projected release schedule. Apple creates designs based on power consumption and thermal metrics intel provides. When those projected dates come to pass and intel hasn't delivered then apple has to modify or at least delay their own plans. This obviously can cause all kinds of problems. 

    Since the introduction of Apple's own A-series chips, they have continued to expand and improve their processor capabilities into something that is extremely impressive. Its possible apple felt they had the know-how and capacity to design and develop their own chips for the Mac line. By controlling their own processors Apple is free to develop in any direction they see fit. It also provides them with capabilities to experiment in new directions for completely new concepts. I am not an app developer so the challenges to overcome from the software perspective are beyond my capability to answer well. As another poster commented this is simply speculation at this point but the signs are becoming more and more clear that something is going to happen.
    watto_cobraFred257
  • Reply 22 of 148
    So we’re back to an iPad with an attached keyboard and no touchscreen. Remember Apple management see no place for a touchscreen on a laptop. So far I haven’t seen anyone with a real systems architecture background profess an ARM implementation being faster/better than the current intel implementations. Then there’s the software side of things. How many developers of win/mac versions are going to abandon mac because its just not worth the hassle of dealing with an new dev environment?
  • Reply 23 of 148
    jfanningjfanning Posts: 3,398member
    Soli said:
    cropr said:
    My use case is of course only limited to a few percent of the market, but it could anyhow jeopardize the market share of Macs
    Did you consider the increase in Mac marketshare from having faster Macs at a lower entry-level price point? There is also the added advantage to all in more Mac users by Apple now allowing developers to sell a single license for iOS (watchOS), iPadOS, and macOS apps.
    Since this is Apple, don't you meant faster Macs at a higher profit point?
    cropr
  • Reply 24 of 148
    As long as we’re speculating, I could see Apple release two Macs.  One based on iPad internals for an MBA that uses a single chip with iOS class SSD and RAM.  This one will be super thin and light.  No thunderbolt support.  Another based on a new high performance Arm chip with high performance memory and I/O offloaded to a T2 or similar chip paired with it for high performance storage, thunderbolt, etc.  Basically similar to PC designs where you put your cores on a “hot chip” and I/O on a cold chip then overclock it as far as possible.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 25 of 148
    Count me as someone who is skeptical about all of this.

    On the one hand, we know what Apple has been doing with low-end ARM, but we have seen nothing on the high-end, so maybe Apple does have plans that would work across the entire lineup.

    On the other hand, there's nothing to suggest that this is the case.  Apple would be taking a big risk here when it has other things to do.  One thing that everyone neglects to consider in terms of Apple's previous transitions is that Apple was always transitioning away from what the rest of the industry wasn't using, albeit earlier also to what the industry wasn't using either.  So if their source was behind, delayed or inferior to the industry, Apple's products were too.  Now, any delay or issue isn't an Apple one, it's an industry one.

    IOW: Where Apple could be frustrated that there was no PowerBook G5 to compete with the industry, today Apple can compete with the same chips the rest of the industry has.

    Moving to ARM means Apple has to invest in maintaining a lead in their chips across the entire lineup of devices and do so with a minority market share as compared to Intel which supplies chips to the rest of the industry.  This not only puts Apple at a disadvantage, but if it falls behind, the entire Mac lineup falls behind.

    Combine this with the usual pain of transitioning, the issues with losing full Windows compatibility, and the distraction from other things Apple could be doing, and I just don't see the upside being worth the cost and risk.  I do see a potential for further ARM development as a co-processor in Macs though.
    caladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 26 of 148
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,819administrator
    DRB said:
    When Apple decided to move from PowerPC (RISC) to X86 (CISC), they had a strategy to move ALL of their computers to the X86 platform. It took a couple of years for the roll out of the hardware products, but it took a few more years for the software apps to be re-written from the ground up to X86, Microsoft being one of the hold outs. Apple DOES NOT HAVE a complete platform of ARM based processors that they can roll out a completely new line of Macs that are ALL based on ARM processors. PERIOD. I highly doubt Apple is going to muddy up and confuse everyone by having some Macs running ARM and other Macs running X86. it will cause more confusion with the application developers and that's going to cause even more confusion. Apple has already stated that they have no intentions of replacing X86 Based Macs with ARM. The only public statement they've made is that they are doing to AUGMENT X86 Macs with ARM for either enhancements or new features, which they have done by using these T chips to add security features, controllers, security features, Fingerprint ID sensing. So, they have reached their obligation and will continue doing so. Until Apple makes a public statement that they are switching to ARM based Macs ditching X86, anything discussed is PURE speculation, rumor, or guessing. There is NO validity to it UNTIL Apple says there is.. Microsoft is just dabbling in ARM processors for Windows devices, and they can do that because they failed in the smartphone industry with Windows phones on ARM. They failed at their first attempt with their ARM based Surface Products. I see them as just dabbling with Windows based ARM computers, but time will tell if they are successful at it and because they have over 90% market share in the installed base of computers, they can afford to dabble in it. Apple can't afford to dabble in it and fail.. They don't have a big enough market share to split off some of their Mac computers to ARM and their others running X86. Now, what's MORE plausible to me is a new designed laptop with a touch screen that's ARM based running a future version of iOS that adds more features that are in macOS. THAT I can see them possibly doing since iOS is their OS for ARM based computers. But running macOS on ARM for only a few or one selected units? Nah, don't be silly.
    Wow, there's a lot here.

    Apple has never said that they aren't going to make ARM macs. What they said is that they weren't merging iOS and macOS. This says nothing about the hardware.

    And, regarding Microsoft -- it isn't a good compare. They had tablets years before the iPad, and still don't have any real traction despite X86 Surfaces. Apple took that market away from them.

    Regarding pure speculation, Intel execs are expecting an ARM Mac. Despite the six things that Apple has already done along the way that are very clear signs that it is coming, I don't know how much clearer it can be. 

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/02/21/intel-officials-believe-that-arm-macs-could-come-as-soon-as-2020
    watto_cobrapscooter63asdasdrazorpit
  • Reply 27 of 148
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,508member
    All off a sudden we’re getting articles about this because one analyst states it’s happening. As Jon Gruber just said on his page, in an article about this:

    Also worth noting: Ming-Chi Kuo is often wrong, especially about products other than iPhones and iPads. We could be writing this same stuff a year from now and Macs could remain on Intel until the end of the platform. But I do think they’re moving to ARM, sooner rather than later.”

    I agree with Jon. It’s likely to happen at some point. Sooner rather than later though, could mean three or four years.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 28 of 148
    Fully custom hardware is a serious advantage for Apple, especially in the portable space. It's not specifically about raw processing power - as we already see this with Apple's A-series versus Qualcomm's Snapdragon: customised hardware provides real world speed advantages over general purpose benchmarks. (Such as video processing, AI, etc.) Apple can further tie this into their unique intellectual property.

    Apple's platform has specific sets of pro users, and soon Apple will be able to deliver products that are highly customised to them without relying on the Mac Pro paradigm. To use an exaggeration, it would be like if MacBook could come with an Afterburner card.
    edited February 2020 mcdavewatto_cobra
  • Reply 29 of 148
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,508member
    DRB said:
    When Apple decided to move from PowerPC (RISC) to X86 (CISC), they had a strategy to move ALL of their computers to the X86 platform. It took a couple of years for the roll out of the hardware products, but it took a few more years for the software apps to be re-written from the ground up to X86, Microsoft being one of the hold outs. Apple DOES NOT HAVE a complete platform of ARM based processors that they can roll out a completely new line of Macs that are ALL based on ARM processors. PERIOD. I highly doubt Apple is going to muddy up and confuse everyone by having some Macs running ARM and other Macs running X86. it will cause more confusion with the application developers and that's going to cause even more confusion. Apple has already stated that they have no intentions of replacing X86 Based Macs with ARM. The only public statement they've made is that they are doing to AUGMENT X86 Macs with ARM for either enhancements or new features, which they have done by using these T chips to add security features, controllers, security features, Fingerprint ID sensing. So, they have reached their obligation and will continue doing so. Until Apple makes a public statement that they are switching to ARM based Macs ditching X86, anything discussed is PURE speculation, rumor, or guessing. There is NO validity to it UNTIL Apple says there is.. Microsoft is just dabbling in ARM processors for Windows devices, and they can do that because they failed in the smartphone industry with Windows phones on ARM. They failed at their first attempt with their ARM based Surface Products. I see them as just dabbling with Windows based ARM computers, but time will tell if they are successful at it and because they have over 90% market share in the installed base of computers, they can afford to dabble in it. Apple can't afford to dabble in it and fail.. They don't have a big enough market share to split off some of their Mac computers to ARM and their others running X86. Now, what's MORE plausible to me is a new designed laptop with a touch screen that's ARM based running a future version of iOS that adds more features that are in macOS. THAT I can see them possibly doing since iOS is their OS for ARM based computers. But running macOS on ARM for only a few or one selected units? Nah, don't be silly.
    Wow, there's a lot here.

    Apple has never said that they aren't going to make ARM macs. What they said is that they weren't merging iOS and macOS. This says nothing about the hardware.

    And, regarding Microsoft -- it isn't a good compare. They had tablets years before the iPad, and still don't have any real traction despite X86 Surfaces. Apple took that market away from them.

    Regarding pure speculation, Intel execs are expecting an ARM Mac. Despite the six things that Apple has already done along the way that are very clear signs that it is coming, I don't know how much clearer it can be. 

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/02/21/intel-officials-believe-that-arm-macs-could-come-as-soon-as-2020
    Well, those Microsoft “tablets” were really convertibles, and often, they were called that. All they were, were Windows laptops with screens that could be reversed, and tapped on, with a stylus. They almost always weighed between 3.3 and 6 pounds. They failed for a number of reasons. One major one was because Microsoft made almost no concessions to it being a tappable tablet. There was little different with Windows. As a result, most of the software for it consisted of lists with tappable squares for the stylus. Not very useful other than for warehouses, and for a very limited medical function.


    in addition, holding one of those as a tablet was impossible for more than a short time, because of the size and weight. They were large, as well as being heavy. There were never more than 2.5 million sold in a year, and they disappeared shortly after the iPad showed up, though sales had fallen to about 1.5 million a year by then. I tried using a few. Horrible experience. Often, in warehouse usage, they were inserted into a holder built-in to the cart or hi-low.

    odd therefore, that the Surface Pro isn’t all that much better as far as the OS goes, even Windows 10 isn’t modified enough for tablet use, so Microsoft lowers the screen resolution from the higher base to make it possible to use. Only in some usage cases is the full resolution available. They sell less than 4 million a year of those. Far more hype about them than sales. Same thing for 2 in 1 devices. They are estimated to sell between 10-16% of notebook sales, at most, and those sales seem to be tapering off.
    edited February 2020 watto_cobrapscooter63
  • Reply 30 of 148
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    cpsro said:
    Non-programmers—and more specifically, people who don't know assembly language—can't appreciate the significance of ARM64's support for twice as many general purpose registers as X64. For most high-level code, with all else being equal, this gives ARM64 a 20-30% speed advantage over X64, without any tweaking, because it avoids the CPU having to access relatively slow caches and main memory so often.
    Intel is stuck with X64 and the world is ready to move on.
    Thats a compilers game, one I know all too well.
    watto_cobracyberzombie
  • Reply 31 of 148
    The technology for ARM to do the extensive multi-tasking that Intel chips provide does not exist today. Arm chips can only now do very small multi-tasking operations. The technology for ARM is still several years away. The main advantage for Apple is Temperature, always on, non comparability with the open architecture that Intel has, (IE Kill Hackintosh) and MORE PROFIT. The most important for them being the last two. Because we know even with the bargain basement chip that ARM is Apple will not drop their pricing. I am old enough to remember when Mac had a completely closed architecture and sales was probably 1% of what it is today. Moving to Intel allowed them to grow to where they are today. ARM will be the death of Mac. Not Apply but the Mac for sure.  
  • Reply 32 of 148
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    I don't think there is a need for fat binaries.
    The App store can handle multi platform binaries by uploading the one corresponding to the requesting OS.

    jony0MacProwatto_cobra
  • Reply 33 of 148
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,819administrator
    melgross said:
    All off a sudden we’re getting articles about this because one analyst states it’s happening. As Jon Gruber just said on his page, in an article about this:

    ”Also worth noting: Ming-Chi Kuo is often wrong, especially about products other than iPhones and iPads. We could be writing this same stuff a year from now and Macs could remain on Intel until the end of the platform. But I do think they’re moving to ARM, sooner rather than later.”

    I agree with Jon. It’s likely to happen at some point. Sooner rather than later though, could mean three or four years.
    This isn't "all of a sudden" and it isn't just one analyst. There are many, many, many links to previous coverage on the matter.

    watto_cobraurahara
  • Reply 34 of 148
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,819administrator

    mham4908 said:
    The technology for ARM to do the extensive multi-tasking that Intel chips provide does not exist today. Arm chips can only now do very small multi-tasking operations. The technology for ARM is still several years away. The main advantage for Apple is Temperature, always on, non comparability with the open architecture that Intel has, (IE Kill Hackintosh) and MORE PROFIT. The most important for them being the last two. Because we know even with the bargain basement chip that ARM is Apple will not drop their pricing. I am old enough to remember when Mac had a completely closed architecture and sales was probably 1% of what it is today. Moving to Intel allowed them to grow to where they are today. ARM will be the death of Mac. Not Apply but the Mac for sure.  
    So, like what 99% of the Mac-using base needs?
    watto_cobrarazorpit
  • Reply 35 of 148
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,508member
    mham4908 said:
    The technology for ARM to do the extensive multi-tasking that Intel chips provide does not exist today. Arm chips can only now do very small multi-tasking operations. The technology for ARM is still several years away. The main advantage for Apple is Temperature, always on, non comparability with the open architecture that Intel has, (IE Kill Hackintosh) and MORE PROFIT. The most important for them being the last two. Because we know even with the bargain basement chip that ARM is Apple will not drop their pricing. I am old enough to remember when Mac had a completely closed architecture and sales was probably 1% of what it is today. Moving to Intel allowed them to grow to where they are today. ARM will be the death of Mac. Not Apply but the Mac for sure.  
    That’s not really correct. Multitasking is much more a function of the OS than the CPU.
    jony0watto_cobraFred257pscooter63razorpitkurai_kage
  • Reply 36 of 148
    a3dstorm said:
    These means no more hackintoshes. :-(
    Perhaps, but as long as the present iMac 4K and 5k iMac are supported, they should stick around, as neither has a T2.
    It’ll be many years before we see Apple chips in Mac Pros. It’s one thing to add more cores to already-fast iPad Pros and slap them in MacBooks, starting a Xeon line is a whole other story. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 37 of 148
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    tedz98 said:
    Saying ARM gives Apple control over the hardware/software stack doesn’t really help me understand the benefits of the switch. If Intel wasn’t missing targets would Apple still be doing this? There’s a bumpy road ahead to make the transition. It will be challenging for users. What about Pro level users? Can ARM work for them? Apple has shown they can integrate ARM processors such as the T2 chip into the existing intel platform. Maybe they should be going after graphics first? Or maybe they want seemless app capability across iOS and MacOS? Or maybe they want just a single OS? Any insights from the experts?
    Cost, it all boils (or cycles) down to cost.
    Apple can replace a $300 processor with a $30 one while spending a lot less on batteries and active cooling.
    Apples (chip) production process and planning is also a lot more reliable and rollout of faster and more capable systems will improve. This means Apple will gain in advantage over PCs and get a lot more buyers, which will reduce production cost even more.
     
    jony0watto_cobrarazorpit
  • Reply 38 of 148
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    melgross said:
    All off a sudden we’re getting articles about this because one analyst states it’s happening. As Jon Gruber just said on his page, in an article about this:

    ”Also worth noting: Ming-Chi Kuo is often wrong, especially about products other than iPhones and iPads. We could be writing this same stuff a year from now and Macs could remain on Intel until the end of the platform. But I do think they’re moving to ARM, sooner rather than later.”

    I agree with Jon. It’s likely to happen at some point. Sooner rather than later though, could mean three or four years.
    Sooner, is this year.
  • Reply 39 of 148
    I can't see a move to ARM happening so easily.  I think it's more likely that the report is referring to a future iPad, or some sort of Mac-iPad hybrid device - even though Apple has said they're not interested in a hybrid device.

    Either the ARM report is true, or the other current rumour (with apparent evidence) that Apple will use AMD x86 processors, is true. I can't see both being true. Why introduce another x86 vendor 1 year before you transition to ARM? Especially since AMD processors would be most useful down the low-end of the Apple Mac platform range, where AMD's APUs (CPU+GPU) provide better performance (at least for graphics) than Intel's offerings. I would think the low-end Mac range would be where an ARM transition would start. Of course, having an AMD Threadripper at the top of the Mac Pro range might be interesting too, but Intel's 8-core CPUs are doing quite nicely at present in the MacBook Pro notebooks.

    Also, Windows and Linux on ARM are not well supported yet. If Windows on ARM was compelling, there's be more reason for Apple to move to ARM. Without it, Apple would be disadvantaging lots of folks (me included) who run Windows on their Macs, either in a VM or using BootCamp.

    Finally, and I think importantly, moving the Mac to ARM would mean that Apple has to develop a much wider range of "A"-series CPUs. I just can't see Apple producing:

    • an "A17" for the iPhone
    • an "A17X" for the iPad
    • an "A17XX" for the MacBook (Pro)
    • an "A17XXX" for the iMac
    • an "A17XXXX" for the Mac Pro
    Intel and AMD are happily producing CPUs with up to 64 cores (AMD) for server-class workloads, and Apple employs a relatively high-end Intel Xeon in the Mac Pro. Is Apple really going to produce similar/equivalent ARM processors for all it's Mac platforms? And some would be in relatively small quantities (perhaps such as for Mac Pros). I don't think Apple could ever transition the Mac Pro to ARM without being accused of ignoring their "Pro" customers all over again.

    Either the move to ARM isn't going to happen, and Apple will use CPUs from AMD and Intel and keep each of them on their toes to give the best price and technology, or Apple will split the Mac line into ARM-powered low-end Macs, and higher-end Macs using x86 processors. All the "Pro" users and everyone who wants decent Windows/Linux support will keep using the x86 Macs for the foreseeable future. And the Mac App Store will have to provide ARM or x86 or "fat" binaries, as required.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 40 of 148
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member

    mham4908 said:
    The technology for ARM to do the extensive multi-tasking that Intel chips provide does not exist today. Arm chips can only now do very small multi-tasking operations. The technology for ARM is still several years away. The main advantage for Apple is Temperature, always on, non comparability with the open architecture that Intel has, (IE Kill Hackintosh) and MORE PROFIT. The most important for them being the last two. Because we know even with the bargain basement chip that ARM is Apple will not drop their pricing. I am old enough to remember when Mac had a completely closed architecture and sales was probably 1% of what it is today. Moving to Intel allowed them to grow to where they are today. ARM will be the death of Mac. Not Apply but the Mac for sure.  
    Current Arm chips are equal or better in performance compared to Intel x86 chips, single or multi (hardware) threading.
    ARM will be Macs biggest breakthrough.

    Edit: fixed threading
    edited February 2020 jony0watto_cobra
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