ARM Mac Pro coming sooner rather than later, says Jean-Louis Gassee

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2020
Jean-Louis Gassee has changed his mind about the ARM Mac shift, and now believes that an ARM Mac Pro is the inevitable endpoint -- and is not that far away.

The Mac Pro with the case removed
The Mac Pro with the case removed


According to Gassee, the ARM Mac is on its way. In a change of mind, he now agrees with Ming Chi Kuo's own 12 month to 18 month timeline for the first ARM Mac to shift.

Gassee's primary concern, however, is now not if it will happen, but how Apple will handle such a transition.

The previous transition from PowerPC to Intel took about a year, and every single new Mac sold was on Intel at the end. This was possible because the market was much smaller and much less complicated than the market of today.

Gassee suggests that, while the entire Mac line could easily shift to ARM, a single outlier raises an issue -- the Mac Pro. While Apple's A-series chipsets are worthy contenders against most consumer laptop chipsets, they still do not hold a candle to the Xeon chips used for the top-of-the-line Macs.

Apple ARM chips already perform better than most consumer Intel chips
Apple ARM chips already perform better than most consumer Intel chips


This would create a development fork, meaning that while the rest of the Macs could flourish on ARM, a single Intel Mac would remain to satisfy Apple's most needy customers. However, that would only need to happen if ARM could not compete with Xeon, which is not the case.

As brought up by Gassee, a company called Ampere Computing already produces powerful ARM chipsets. This company produces chips with similar performance to Intel Xeon at half of the consumed power -- 201 watts versus the 400 watts needed by Xeon.

Another interesting tidbit brought up by Jean-Louis Gassee is the fact that TSMC makes these ultra-powerful ARM chips for Ampere, meaning Apple only need invent one themselves to begin manufacturing their own.
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Comments

  • Reply 2 of 57
    looplessloopless Posts: 220member
    Anyone who works in or develops HPC software cringes at this.  Sure it's likely you can make an ARM chip with the performance of high-end Xeons, but the world of HPC software is a million years away from XCode app development where you can flip a switch to build for a new architecture. There are so many bespoke libraries (e.g. Intel MKL) and years of optimization that have gone into getting HPC code to run fast on AVX Xeons.

    Apple is a bit-player in HPC with the Mac Pro because of their 'war' with nVIDIA ( cutting off access to the compute power of their massively parallel GPUs)  - it would just sideline them even more if they went ARM.
    wallymsteven n.
  • Reply 3 of 57
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,654member
    As brought up by Gassee, a company called Ampere Computing already produces powerful ARM chipsets. This company produces chips with similar performance to Intel Xeon at half of the consumed power -- 201 watts versus the 400 watts needed by Xeon.
    More processing power for less energy. That is exactly why ARM Macs are happening. A13 is already outperforming Intel on notebooks, so it's probably only a matter of time to at least comparable processing power on the high-end.'

    The writing is on the wall. And the floor. And the ceiling. And...
    edited March 2020 MisterKitrepressthislkrupplolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 57
    jumpcutterjumpcutter Posts: 100member
    If the Mac Pro becomes the likely candidate for the ARM chips then the apparent upgradeability of the machine would be limited. How many versions of ARM chips will Apple create (8 core, 12 core, 16 core or 28 core)? I do not think this would be economically feasible for the pro-market because Apple will overcharge for these processors as they overcharge for their RAM and other components. This would be a mistake for Apple because they have already priced this machine out of reach for the low-end professionals. The more Apple wants to control its components the more it will hurt the customer because of the greed of Tim Cook's Apple. I am sorry, I have been a long time Apple customer but see the end of the road for me buying any more Apple products because of Apple's apparent unyielding price structure! Macs no more for me!

    Ofer
  • Reply 5 of 57
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,397member
    At the price point of a Mac Pro is there any reason they could not offer multiple chips for different purposes just as T1 and T2 chips have slowly been added to most Macs?  Xeon or even maybe Epyc chips could still be used along with some future A chip and T chips and bridge the period until Apple have their own chips fully developed.
    edited March 2020 JWSCwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 57
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,397member
    As brought up by Gassee, a company called Ampere Computing already produces powerful ARM chipsets. This company produces chips with similar performance to Intel Xeon at half of the consumed power -- 201 watts versus the 400 watts needed by Xeon.
    More processing power for less energy. That is exactly why ARM Macs are happening. A13 is already outperforming Intel on notebooks, so it's probably only a matter of time to at least comparable processing power on the high-end.'

    The writing is on the wall. And the floor. And the ceiling. And...
    ... Intel's pink slip?  ;)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 57
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,539member
    As brought up by Gassee, a company called Ampere Computing already produces powerful ARM chipsets. This company produces chips with similar performance to Intel Xeon at half of the consumed power -- 201 watts versus the 400 watts needed by Xeon.
    More processing power for less energy. That is exactly why ARM Macs are happening. A13 is already outperforming Intel on notebooks, so it's probably only a matter of time to at least comparable processing power on the high-end.'

    The writing is on the wall. And the floor. And the ceiling. And...
    Apple can accomplish the same thing transitioning to AMD processors beginning with Zen 2 architecture and still maintain x86 compatibility.
    gatorguylkruppmattinozwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 57
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,624member
    Why should we listen to guy that just suddenly realized the obvious?

    ARM has always been about mobility.  If it has a battery it will eventually have an ARM processor in it, but for a looong time MacBook Pro will be Intel.  Anyone that uses Boot Camp will buy the Pro model.
  • Reply 9 of 57
    I sincerely hope there's an EPYC-based 64-core Mac Pro in the near future. 

    As a software developer and hard-core audio/video editor, I'm hoping they allow mixing ARM-based and Intel x86-64 based cores.

    Imagine a MacBook Pro that has 32 or 64 ARM cores, but also a Core i9 so that you can run Parallels and still have integrated Linux/Windows on your laptop, while the ARM cores would sip power when you don't need anything Intel draining the battery.

    ...or a Mac Pro that has a pluggable x86-64 CPU complex that allows you to plug in an EPYC 64-core module to work alongside your 64 core ARM64 main processor.
    edited March 2020 wallymwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 57
    Imagine macOS optimized to run nearly everything on ARM64 while still allowing interoperability with x86-64 applications. The two processor complexes could be connected via Thunderbolt, which at 40 Gb/sec is pretty fast.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 57
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    Very interesting, nice info.
    Is Gassee former Apple?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 57
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,245member
    knowitall said:
    Very interesting, nice info.
    Is Gassee former Apple?
    Yes
  • Reply 13 of 57
    thttht Posts: 4,066member
    knowitall said:
    Very interesting, nice info.
    Is Gassee former Apple?
    JLG is indeed ex-Apple, in the late 80s and early 90s, but he doesnotknowitall, knowitall. He doesn’t have any real sources inside Apple nor its supply chain, and is just shooting the breeze here.
    JWSCFileMakerFellerhorvaticwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 57
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    loopless said:
    Anyone who works in or develops HPC software cringes at this.  Sure it's likely you can make an ARM chip with the performance of high-end Xeons, but the world of HPC software is a million years away from XCode app development where you can flip a switch to build for a new architecture. There are so many bespoke libraries (e.g. Intel MKL) and years of optimization that have gone into getting HPC code to run fast on AVX Xeons.

    Apple is a bit-player in HPC with the Mac Pro because of their 'war' with nVIDIA ( cutting off access to the compute power of their massively parallel GPUs)  - it would just sideline them even more if they went ARM.
    GC (Grand Central) is Apples answer, as parallelism is the answer to supercomputer power.
    Works fine with XCode.

    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 57
    I love Apple's CPU development but it seems like it doesn't make any sense for them to switch anything to arm anymore. It seems like they are giving a lot more power to the ipad pro with mouse support. I love the iPad Pro and it's replaced my laptop already. I'm unclear about what the benefit would be to switch the other mac lines to ARM. It seems like it'd be a lot more issue than benefit to switch all the software, windows compatibility, etc. Plus with Foveros 3D from Intel and AMDs 3d stacking these chips are becoming a lot more power efficient. Can anyone tell me why this would possible be a good thing?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 57
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    tht said:
    knowitall said:
    Very interesting, nice info.
    Is Gassee former Apple?
    JLG is indeed ex-Apple, in the late 80s and early 90s, but he doesnotknowitall, knowitall. He doesn’t have any real sources inside Apple nor its supply chain, and is just shooting the breeze here.
    I thought so, but thanks for the confirmation.
    I have seen him at an Apple session in Amsterdam.
    I know its someone with software expertise, one of the best I think.
    ZepLepplinwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 57
    Why should we listen to guy that just suddenly realized the obvious?



    twatwaffle comment.  you know who he is, right? 

    https://mondaynote.com  <-- bookmark it. educate yourself, you're welcome. lol

    his site is absolutely one of the best. analytical, thoughtful, insightful. 
    StrangeDaysfotoformatlolliver
  • Reply 18 of 57

    tht said:
    knowitall said:
    Very interesting, nice info.
    Is Gassee former Apple?
    JLG is indeed ex-Apple, in the late 80s and early 90s, but he doesnotknowitall, knowitall. He doesn’t have any real sources inside Apple nor its supply chain, and is just shooting the breeze here.
    knows waaaay more than you will ever know. lol
    fotoformathorvatic
  • Reply 19 of 57
    michelb76michelb76 Posts: 296member
    More processing power for less energy. That is exactly why ARM Macs are happening. A13 is already outperforming Intel on notebooks, so it's probably only a matter of time to at least comparable processing power on the high-end.'

    The writing is on the wall. And the floor. And the ceiling. And...
    Are there any benchmarks with sustained performance? So far I've only seen synthetic, burst benchmarks and that doesn't mean much. Nice for portables though, not so much for workhorses.
  • Reply 20 of 57

    ICan anyone tell me why this would possible be a good thing?

    idk. lets ask the super engineers at Apple. pretty sure they're way ahead on this. 
    mwhitelolliver
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