Apple's shift to ARM Mac at WWDC will define a decade of computing

Posted:
in macOS edited June 2020
Next week, Apple's 2020 Worldwide Developer Conference is expected to detail a migration away from Intel's x86 chips to new processors of Apple's own design. Here's how that could dramatically affect the next decade of computing.

WWDC20

What's wrong with Intel?

Apple famously adopted Intel's processors for Macs in a 2005 announcement by Steve Jobs, which outlined that new iMacs and notebooks would begin shipping with Intel's freshly released x86 Core processors starting in early 2006. WWDC05 helped to prepare developers to make the switch to ensure that buyers of new Intel Macs could continue to use their Mac software.

That move to Intel benefitted Apple and its Mac users in a variety of ways. New Intel Macs could leverage the economies of scale in x86 chips to deliver regular new improvements in processing power at affordable prices that were not being delivered by Apple's existing PowerPC chip providers.

It also meant that new x86 Macs were hardware-compatible with running Microsoft Windows and the software designed for it. Beyond booting Windows, Intel Macs could also host Windows apps natively on the Mac desktop or virtualize entire Windows sessions.

Additionally, video games written for x86 PCs could be more easily ported to run as Mac apps.

Apple Intel
Apple announced support for Intel's chips in Macs at WWDC05


So what's changed over the last 15 years that would make Apple interested in now moving away from Intel's x86 chips? There are a number of important factors. One is that Microsoft Windows and its Windows software have dramatically faded in importance as mainstream consumer spending and technical investments have shifted from PCs to mobile devices.

Windows and x86 compatibility are still important to some users, but neither has been less important to the majority of users than they are today. Additionally, most users who have some specific need to use x86 software are often the least likely to even consider a Mac from all of the various other PC options available.

Conversely, most Mac users have no need to host x86 or Windows code.

According to historical service data records collated by AppleInsider spanning the last decade, while around 15% of Mac users had Boot Camp installed in 2010, only about 2% of machines today are typically set up to dual boot into Windows.

One specific area that was expected to make a big difference for Intel Macs was video gaming. Yet PC gaming is still solidly planted on Windows PCs and Macs haven't materially shifted simply because of an influx of ported Windows titles.

On the flip side, Apple has also created something that has never existed before: its own mobile platform larger than Windows and unrelated to x86. Across the last decade, rather than investing solely in Intel's x86-related platforms, Apple has been increasingly investing in its independent tools and infrastructure.

This includes Apple's custom ARM silicon as well as its LLVM software compiler, Swift language, Xcode development tools, App Store platform, new services such as Apple Arcade, and all of the related work that has established iOS and its analogs as the leading platform for premium smartphones used by affluent customers; in tablets adopted by enterprise users; and in new computing areas including wearables such as Apple Watch and AirPods.

Intel's first no from Apple

The last time Apple was faced with the option to use Intel chips in its Mac computers, none of this existed.

Back in the early 1990s, Apple had internally studied the idea of moving the Mac from its initial Motorola 68K processors to Intel x86 chips under the Star Trek project but effectively decided that it would be too difficult to move the Mac's existing library of third party 68k software to Intel x86 chips, with little to gain from the move.

Instead, Apple pursued a new partnership with IBM and Motorola to develop an entirely new chip platform for desktop PCs based on IBM's POWER architecture. The resulting PowerPC was a new, fresh design unladen with the decade-long baggage of Intel's x86's 1980s legacy.

Fresh PowerPC chips initially helped Apple's PowerMacs to remain competitive with Intel-based Windows PCs, while Apple supported emulation of older software on much faster new PowerPC chips.

However, PowerPC's newness also kept many of the project's other initial partners from fully adopting it the way Apple had. By the early 2000s, Apple was the only PowerPC user building PCs in any quantity.

But Apple also didn't own or control the direction of PowerPC development. IBM and Motorola's Freescale were largely distracted by designing and building embedded PowerPC chips destined for automotive or video game consoles rather than being focused on serving the needs of Apple's Macs.

The circumstances that justified Apple saying "no" to Intel around 1993 changed enough that by 2005 Apple was ready to say "yes" to shifting its Mac platform to Intel's x86. Yet while celebrating that decision in public, Apple was also internally making other plans that wouldn't involve Intel.

A no from Intel, then a no back from Apple

The first was the iPhone, which Apple initially wanted to power with an Intel-built XScale chip. Intel's chief executive at the time, Paul Otellini, initially said no to Apple, fearing that its phone project wouldn't be successful enough to justify Intel's investment.

That turned out to be wildly mistaken. Within just a couple of years, Apple's success with the iPhone was so obvious that Intel itself desperately wanted to work with Apple on future mobile products, particularly its upcoming tablet. Intel expected Apple to select its upcoming x86 Silverthorne mobile chip, later renamed as Atom.

But this time Apple said "no" to Intel, and instead initiated the development of a project to build a new customized ARM "System on a Chip" that could power both its upcoming iPad and subsequently iPhone 4. The project was delivered in 2010 as A4.

A4
Apple A4

Another Apple no to Intel's x86

Apple's "no" also included using the A4 in another product already using an Intel x86 chip: Apple TV. The initial versions of Apple TV had effectively been a scaled-down x86 Mac, but in 2010 the product became another iOS-based device running Apple's ARM SoC.

Unlike Macs, Apple TV didn't gain any benefits at all from using x86 chips. There was no way to run Windows software on it, and it didn't need Intel's leading performance. Conversely, the switch to using Apple's A4 enabled Apple to sell its TV device for much less; the price dropped from $229 to $99.

The shift from Intel wasn't the entire reason for that price drop, but Apple's silicon helped it to deliver a cheaper product offering that could appeal to broader audiences.

Across the next decade, Apple aggressively invested in its own A-series silicon development, in parallel but independent from its ongoing use of Intel chips in Macs. Apple's competitive investment in its own mobile chips was so effective that it relegated Intel into a minority player in mobile chips. Atom ended up being canceled before the decade even ended.

From WinTel to Android and iOS on ARM

Apple's continued investment in its custom silicon didn't just block Intel from establishing any real market power in the mobile space. It also helped to establish Apple's software platforms as essential. While most of the tech media was predicting that Android would become the "new Windows" with Microsoft-like control over the consumer tech industry, what actually happened was that Apple became both the Intel and the Windows of mobile devices.

Rather than becoming the new Windows, Android ended up playing the role of pirated copies of Windows: a competitive placeholder that effectively prevented any other real competition from gaining traction-- including, ironically, Microsoft's own efforts to enter mobile.

Google was doing all of the hard and frustrating work of maintaining a broadly licensed platform across various commodity hardware makers for nearly nothing, while Apple was earning virtually all of the available profits on iOS.

And while both Android and iOS were investing in ARM, only Apple was investing in custom development of its own optimized chips. The mobile platforms Apple developed over the last decade generated hundreds of billions in hardware sales and additional scores of billions in App Store and subscription revenues, far more than Google's Android.

They're so valuable, in fact, that Google pays Apple additional billions to access its user base to offer search and advertising on iOS.

The size and importance of Apple's mobile platforms are so large that they now greatly overshadow the PC business itself. Apple earns far more money from its mobile platforms than from the Mac. Apple's mobile platforms can now contribute more to the Mac than the WinTel platforms can.

That's in evidence from Apple's recent strategies of using Project Catalyst to move existing iPad software to the Mac. There is far more potential in moving modern iPad code to the Mac than there is in supporting legacy x86 Windows software on Intel Macs.


At WWDC19, Apple introduced Project Catalyst to bring iPad software to the Mac


It's also notable in Apple having created ARM SoCs that rival Intel's x86 notebook chips in performance, despite being developed for lower-powered mobile devices. Apple has the ability to develop new custom chips optimized for a Mac, potentially using multiple chips in the device.

This would also make it that much easier for iPad and iOS developers to move their existing code to the Mac, even if it makes it harder to move legacy x86 code to new Macs.

One of the largest problems associated with moving an existing platform to a new processor architecture is how to migrate the existing library of software. Once again, Apple now has a new solution available that hasn't been available before.

Developers who sell their software through the App Store can upload code that can be compiled for different platforms and delivered automatically in the correct form to buyers. This doesn't solve every issue but does make it easier than ever to migrate to new hardware.

Apple itself relied on this mechanism to help roll out a new 64-bit iOS platform after the release of A7. On the Mac, a similar migration to a new hardware architecture could similarly drive adoption of the Mac App Store and ARM Macs in tandem.

Beyond ARM

Apple's successes in mobile silicon are not just due to ARM cores, however. Both Google and Microsoft have worked to develop ARM-based phones, tablets, and even more conventional notebook-like devices without similar success.

All of the Android commodity hardware makers, including Samsung and Huawei, also use ARM chips without generating anywhere near the level of commercial success that iPhones and iPads have for Apple.

Apple's incredible scale in shipping a broad number of ARM-based devices in vast volumes, consistently over the last decade, has made it very hard to compete against. However, Apple's success in custom silicon isn't just a matter of having invested in ARM rather than buying chips from Intel.

A larger element of Apple's custom silicon is the vertical integration it allows, including optimizations in silicon that can be custom-built to serve needs in the operating system and offer unique capabilities that enable differentiating features. The existence of ARM facilitates this, but the value of Apple's custom silicon efforts grow beyond simply its use of ARM-compatible CPU cores.

A6
The majority of Apple's "custom ARM chips" are custom, not ARM


In fact, the ARM cores Apple uses make up a minority of the real estate on its custom SoCs. A larger part is devoted to GPU cores, which are not ARM. Apple initially licensed GPU core designs from Imagination Technologies, but has since moved to develop its own custom GPU cores.

Apple has also developed its own audio processing, encryption, video codec, storage controller, artificial intelligence, and other unique logic cores that are all vertically integrated and also mass-produced in the same component, creating massive savings via economies of scale.

Apple is also regularly reusing and adapting the custom silicon it has developed, enabling it to enter other markets at a lower cost than a competitor lacking such a library of previous work to draw from. For example, Apple has used cores developed for iPhones and iPads to drive its wearables and power devices such as HomePod. Apple TV has also regularly made use of previous generations of A-chips.

Apple is also already using much of the logic of its A-series chips, minus the primary ARM CPU cores, to perform supporting tasks on its recent Macs.

Apple refers to the most recent version of its custom chips used in Macs as the T2, which supports Touch ID, hardware-accelerated encryption and media codecs, support for Touch Bar and Hey Siri, and a variety of other functions. Some of these features are also powered by ARM cores or microcontrollers, while others use different core technologies.

However, the value here isn't just from using "ARM," but rather from the deep integration and optimizations Apple can make in designing and using its own chip designs. These investments are extremely expensive but can support solid, differentiating features that are hard to compete against.

Apple T2
Apple's T2 provides custom silicon without a primary ARM CPU on existing Intel Macs


Google demonstrated this in creating its own Visual Core silicon to enhance photography on its Pixel phones. That was a very expensive endeavor but failed to achieve much because it didn't result in significant hardware sales.

In fact, the most successful Pixel phone by far has been the company's cheapest Pixel 3a, which doesn't even use the company's custom imaging core at all. In fact, it achieves its affordable price by not using custom silicon. Apple has made custom silicon look easy, but it's anything but.

Microsoft also made some waves in announcing that its Surface notebook was using a "custom ARM processor" built by Qualcomm, but that was largely marketing hot air because there wasn't really anything noteworthy about the chip it used apart from running at a slightly higher clock speed.

The vast gulf between talking about or trying custom silicon and the work Apple had delivered offers some perspective on what Apple can accomplish going forward. That will include in its existing mobile devices, its emerging wearables portfolio, any new Macs that are powered by advanced custom silicon, as well as-yet-unreleased devices that serve entirely new roles ranging from health to home integration and other promising categories.

One notable example is the rumored Apple Glasses, which would need advanced silicon processing to handle imaging, motion, graphics, security, native intelligence, power management, and wireless connectivity in an extremely compact package.

ARM is developing elements of that package, but Apple has been working on all of those features in its existing custom silicon already, financing the extreme cost of that work with its unique volumes of mobile device sales.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 76
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    So if only 2% of Mac users are dual booting, then it’s possible that Apple isn’t too fussed about running Windows. 
    williamlondonlkruppJWSCjony0sphericwatto_cobrap-dog
  • Reply 2 of 76
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,649member
    Rayz2016 said:
    So if only 2% of Mac users are dual booting, then it’s possible that Apple isn’t too fussed about running Windows. 
    That 2% can be a comfort to people who jump ship but who aren't sure about macOS still. Also, what about virtualisation for Windows? I bet a lot more than 2% of people use virtualisation than dual-booting. 
    edited June 2020 williamlondoncaladanianlkruppjony0viclauyycrazorpitravnorodom
  • Reply 3 of 76
    While a new ARM-based MacBook is logical, I would think it would also reinforce the expectation that %desktopOS%-on-ARM = slow. Apple’s confidence in ARM would be clearer if they put it in a MacBook Air, which we already know is a capable machine. 

    Either way, I would replace my 2015 and 2017 MacBooks with an ARM-based model if they ditched the butterfly keyboard in them. If this comes to fruition this year I will find it a very fascinating time, indeed. 
    edited June 2020 williamlondondocno42watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 76
    braytona said:
    While a new ARM-based MacBook is logical, I would think it would also reinforce the expectation that %desktopOS%-on-ARM = slow. Apple’s confidence in ARM would be clearer if they put it in a MacBook Air, which we already know is a capable machine. 

    Either way, I would replace my 2015 and 2017 MacBooks with an ARM-based model if they ditched the butterfly keyboard in them. If this comes to fruition this year I will find it a very fascinating time, indeed. 
    anyone who has used a Raspberry Pi 4 with a Linux Desktop can testify how fast it can be and that is from booting of a slow micro SD card.
    I would imagine that Apple's ARM with its own GPU is a lot faster. I think a lot of people might well be surprised at how responsive MacOS on ARM is.
    viclauyycdocno42watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 76
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,574member
    Rayz2016 said:
    So if only 2% of Mac users are dual booting, then it’s possible that Apple isn’t too fussed about running Windows. 

    I don't think Apple gives a rats ass about the virtualization crowd... they can either buy a WIntel machine or continue using their current Mac for it. Apple's not going to hold its future roadmap hostage over this single issue.
    lkruppjony0planetary paultobianJapheydocno42techconccornchipravnorodomwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 76
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,603member
    mjtomlin said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    So if only 2% of Mac users are dual booting, then it’s possible that Apple isn’t too fussed about running Windows. 

    I don't think Apple gives a rats ass about the virtualization crowd... they can either buy a WIntel machine or continue using their current Mac for it. Apple's not going to hold its future roadmap hostage over this single issue.
    Agreed.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 76
    JoharJohar Posts: 7member
    I used to boot into Windows on my 2009 Mac Pro in order to play PC games. With plenty of RAM and the possibility to upgrade the GPU, this was a viable solution up until a few years ago.

    However, since the passing of Steve Jobs, gaming on the Mac has been deliberately ignored, with seriously underpowered computers and no interest whatsoever in working with game developers. Even Mac gaming stalwart Blizzard finally gave up on the Mac platform, when their new Overwatch title literally could not run decently on any available Mac.

    Moving to ARM might not affect the business side in any drastic way, but every single person wanting to play new AAA PC games will be forced to either buy two computers  or to ditch the Mac altogether. Considering how many young people (and quite a few older) are into games, this seems to me like a major loss of opportunity. It's even more bizarre given Apple's apparent recognition of the importance of games on their mobile platform. But I guess they believe Apple users are more interested in Candy Crush than in Overwatch.
    lkruppelijahgviclauyycwilliamlondonbeeble42watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 76
    caladaniancaladanian Posts: 353member
    That step has the potential to create chaos without overweighing benefits for the user. 
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 76
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,649member
    mjtomlin said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    So if only 2% of Mac users are dual booting, then it’s possible that Apple isn’t too fussed about running Windows. 

    I don't think Apple gives a rats ass about the virtualization crowd... they can either buy a WIntel machine or continue using their current Mac for it. Apple's not going to hold its future roadmap hostage over this single issue.
    That's my issue with the modern Apple, around macOS at least. There're so many groups of people they supposedly don't give a rat's ass about that eventually most people that use their Mac for more than a Facebook machine fall into one of those groups. There are a lot of these "single issues" that Apple shouldn't give a crap about according to forum-goers here, but all those single issues add up. I seem to be getting hit by a lot of them right now. They can stomp over their iOS user base and no one cares because iOS devices don't need much compatibility or openness, and the size of the iOS market means it's worth devs keeping up. The same can't be said for macOS. Power users on Macs don't like being shat on by the company they've supported for several decades just because it's convenient for Apple to do so. The machines are getting more and more expensive but with less and less software and hardware features. And as much as I hate to say it, Windows is nowhere near as terrible as it used to be.
    edited June 2020 mobirdviclauyycrundhvidwilliamlondontobianrazorpitmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 76
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,649member
    Johar said:
    I used to boot into Windows on my 2009 Mac Pro in order to play PC games. With plenty of RAM and the possibility to upgrade the GPU, this was a viable solution up until a few years ago.

    However, since the passing of Steve Jobs, gaming on the Mac has been deliberately ignored, with seriously underpowered computers and no interest whatsoever in working with game developers. Even Mac gaming stalwart Blizzard finally gave up on the Mac platform, when their new Overwatch title literally could not run decently on any available Mac.

    Moving to ARM might not affect the business side in any drastic way, but every single person wanting to play new AAA PC games will be forced to either buy two computers  or to ditch the Mac altogether. Considering how many young people (and quite a few older) are into games, this seems to me like a major loss of opportunity. It's even more bizarre given Apple's apparent recognition of the importance of games on their mobile platform. But I guess they believe Apple users are more interested in Candy Crush than in Overwatch.
    Apple has never really liked gaming for some reason, which is odd since right from the Apple // days their computers were used to create some really innovative and popular games. The Oregon Trail, Marathon, Quake, Starcraft/Warcraft/WoW/Diablo to name a few that were created on MacOS or released with parity to their PC counterparts. I think Apple's almost embarrassed that gaming is so popular on iOS, which is an absolute contrast to gaming on the Mac. Inb4 people compare Apple Arcade games to immersive feature-length AAA titles, they're not even in the same ballpark. As noted previously, Valve has abandoned SteamVR for Mac, because Apple seems to be doing everything possible to put devs off gaming on the Mac.
    viclauyycrundhvidwilliamlondonrazorpit
  • Reply 11 of 76
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,603member
    aravindh said:
    mjtomlin said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    So if only 2% of Mac users are dual booting, then it’s possible that Apple isn’t too fussed about running Windows. 

    I don't think Apple gives a rats ass about the virtualization crowd... they can either buy a WIntel machine or continue using their current Mac for it. Apple's not going to hold its future roadmap hostage over this single issue.
    Even I feel the same. Without  intel, how Apple going to give a quality product? But still let's hope for the best from Apple. 


    iPhone and iPad / iPad Pro don't use Intel processors and are quality products.
    JWSCjdb8167Rayz2016docno42watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 76
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,603member
    elijahg said:
    mjtomlin said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    So if only 2% of Mac users are dual booting, then it’s possible that Apple isn’t too fussed about running Windows. 

    I don't think Apple gives a rats ass about the virtualization crowd... they can either buy a WIntel machine or continue using their current Mac for it. Apple's not going to hold its future roadmap hostage over this single issue.
    That's my issue with the modern Apple, around macOS at least. There're so many groups of people they supposedly don't give a rat's ass about that eventually most people that use their Mac for more than a Facebook machine fall into one of those groups. There are a lot of these "single issues" that Apple shouldn't give a crap about according to forum-goers here, but all those single issues add up. I seem to be getting hit by a lot of them right now. They can stomp over their iOS user base and no one cares because iOS devices don't need much compatibility or openness, and the size of the iOS market means it's worth devs keeping up. The same can't be said for macOS. Power users on Macs don't like being shat on by the company they've supported for several decades just because it's convenient for Apple to do so. The machines are getting more and more expensive but with less and less software and hardware features. And as much as I hate to say it, Windows is nowhere near as terrible as it used to be.
    I don't think Apple is trying to be all things to all people.  I could be wrong but I think the core markets for their Macs are software developers (specifically developers that develop for Apple's ecosystem), creative professionals, enterprise market.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 76
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,057member
    When BootCamp was released it gave both Mac and linux users the ability to run on the fastest non-customized PC available and that was a Mac. Running Windows or linux virtualized is slower than running it natively on the x86 platform. I know we ran BootCamp and Fusion to be able to run some stupid windows server clients forced on us by the business department. Beyond that it wasn't necessary. We did run specialized Windows-based hardware because the manufacturer refused to create the software for Macs. Today is totally different from ten to twenty years ago. Most business systems, whether they are Windows or linux based, can be accessed through web browsers or dedicated apps on every platform. This reduces the need for direct Windows capability (BootCamp) significantly. I still run Fusion to support Windows users so I can see exactly what they are seeing. This support is winding down so my only other reason for keeping Fusion capability is for those CAD systems who also refuse to upgrade their software to something current that would be more easily ported to macOS. I'm talking about several marine design CAD systems that look like they're still using DOS and Windows 3 code. This will continue to be a problem for Windows users who use code from forty years ago.

    As for migrating to another new Apple platform, been there, done that. I survived then and am looking forward to doing it again. Intel has be extremely slow in upgrading and enhancing their computing platform while Apple has produced major leaps in processing power since the iPhone/iPad were introduced. With control over most of the components they use in all their products they have the unique opportunity and ability to cram as many CPU and GPU cores along with specialized hardware as they want to on their SOCs. I know many people are concerned about GPU capability and Apple's mobile GPUs aren't anywhere near desktop GPUs (yes, current desktop CPUs are also faster but Apple is much closer to the possibility of building a desktop A-series CPU that could rival the best Intel and AMD have to offer than they are competing against NVIDIA and AMD). I continue to hear that many applications still only use single core computing and don't take advantage of multiple cores. These developers need to change because I believe there is an upper limit to single core CPU speed while multiple core CPUs can be created into the thousands and with proper software can run applications extremely fast. GPUs also use multiple cores running into the multiple thousands and I don't see any reason why Apple couldn't design desktop ARM-based separate CPUs and GPUs with tons of cores that would ultimately compare favorably with Intel, ARM and NVIDIA. An ARM-based Mac will have some growing pains but not as much as the move to Intel caused. Isn't Apple's entire software library capable of running on Intel and A-series devices already? (I'm giving people a chance to yell at my post with this comment.) I'm ready to get an ARM-based Mac, especially a laptop, even one with a touchscreen. ;)
    rundhviddocno42muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 76
    Why can’t Apple have its cake and eat it too?
    • an ARM-based Mac (MacBook or MacBook Air). Caters to the general user especially if the use of Apple built CPUs lowers the price. 
    • an ‘eMate’ like super iPadOS based notebook in a MacBook Air type form factor, acting as an extension of the iOS ecosystem Also could potentially compete with Chromebooks in education if done right. 
    • Continue the Intel based Mac (MacBook Pro or Mac Pro) to cater to those who need x86 virtualization, Windows boot, businesses, etc. 
    I have no expectations or desire to bloat macOS with an x86 emulator for ARM like Rosetta and whatever has to be done in the OS to support it. Emulation or traslation between instruction sets is still involved and is still a trade off as there’s not a 1:1 match between the two ISAs. If you think about it unless these ARM processors are double or triple the speed of Intel, the emulated code will likely be slower than on x86. If you have both types of processors available, then give the user a choice of which you want to buy depending on your needs. 

    And thinking way outside the box here. Could it be conceivable that Apple could design a system with a motherboard that could accept either processor?  That would make the choice of processor a BTO option.

    We could argue that Apple has not ignored gaming. It’s just that they’re not actively courting the hard core gamer on macOS where the market is relatively small and competitive (including competition from Xbox, PS4, etc) and probably not as lucrative. But don’t forget iOS where you see a plethora of games that are more accessible to the less hardcore game user.  
    Rayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 76
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,574member
    elijahg said:
    mjtomlin said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    So if only 2% of Mac users are dual booting, then it’s possible that Apple isn’t too fussed about running Windows. 

    I don't think Apple gives a rats ass about the virtualization crowd... they can either buy a WIntel machine or continue using their current Mac for it. Apple's not going to hold its future roadmap hostage over this single issue.
    That's my issue with the modern Apple, around macOS at least. There're so many groups of people they supposedly don't give a rat's ass about that eventually most people that use their Mac for more than a Facebook machine fall into one of those groups. There are a lot of these "single issues" that Apple shouldn't give a crap about according to forum-goers here, but all those single issues add up. I seem to be getting hit by a lot of them right now. They can stomp over their iOS user base and no one cares because iOS devices don't need much compatibility or openness, and the size of the iOS market means it's worth devs keeping up. The same can't be said for macOS. Power users on Macs don't like being shat on by the company they've supported for several decades just because it's convenient for Apple to do so. The machines are getting more and more expensive but with less and less software and hardware features. And as much as I hate to say it, Windows is nowhere near as terrible as it used to be.

    Modern Apple?

    Apple has always done things their way - specific segment of user base be damned. Whatever group of users drop by the wayside, others will fill in because of whatever change was made, made it better, easier for them. This is the nature of evolution. Being able to run another OS does not require virtualization. That, is just a convenience. Very, very few people buy a Mac to mainly run Windows.

    Even then, I don't see a big issue... If Apple does move the Mac to ARM, isn't there an ARM version of Windows now? Aren't pretty much all distros of Linux and UNIX supporting / starting to support armv8?

    As I've said before, I would be more excited to see Apple ditch x64 and armv8 and develop their own ISA.
    rundhvidwilliamlondonmcdaveRayz2016docno42watto_cobrafastasleep
  • Reply 16 of 76
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    Apropos of nothing, this is an interesting development. Never mind that it’s a Windows machine. They’ve expanded the idea of the touch bar to be a second screen.

    https://www.asus.com/us/site/zenbook/ux581.html

    Apple could go a similar route.
  • Reply 17 of 76
    swineoneswineone Posts: 63member
    First of all, I could barely believe this is a DED piece; the only giveaway was its size, but still, I read through half of it before I went back to the start to check the author. A very welcome change from the usual rant-filled, foaming-at-the-mouth display of anger at anyone who doesn't unconditionally praise Apple. I may even read more articles by him in the future (usually, at the first sign of the above characteristics, I go back to the start, confirm it's a DED piece and close the tab).

    The transition to ARM has certainly been possible for a few years already, so one has to question what prompted it at this time, especially considering the decision certainly hasn't been made this year, or even last year (for those not familiar with it, it takes quite a few years to develop hardware; it's not like software where you can release a crappy version and update it later). Surely Intel's lack of progress in the last few years was a major motivator, but without an x86 emulation layer, the first couple of years are going to be rocky for the early adopter. I expect a repeat of the Intel transition where major apps (like Adobe's) took a while to be released. Now there's an extra issue with the loss of x86 virtualization, which despite what many people say, is going to be a factor to a large segment of the user base. Let's face it, there are many apps that are Windows only, from in-house apps to specialized apps such as a lot of stuff in the engineering field (e.g. SolidWorks, Altium Designer, etc.) Despite the general opinion, there are pro users who do things other than media editing.

    I'll go on a limb here and say that part of why Apple took so long is that they're perfecting an x86 emulation layer that's going to run, if not at close to native speed, fast enough to entice users of such software to stay on the Apple ecosystem. Additionally it's going to help with sales in the first few years, while certain important apps haven't yet migrated to ARM.

    Recall that Apple licensed the Rosetta layer for the PowerPC-to-Intel migration, but it was a much smaller company back then. They're huge now, and they even have their own compiler infrastructure in the form of LLVM; the expertise there might help to develop such an emulation layer.

    In closing, I wager a part of the announcement is going to be an x86 emulation layer with never-seen-before performance. I guess we'll see soon enough.
    razorpitmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 76
    swineoneswineone Posts: 63member
     mjtomlin said:
    Even then, I don't see a big issue... If Apple does move the Mac to ARM, isn't there an ARM version of Windows now? Aren't pretty much all distros of Linux and UNIX supporting / starting to support armv8?
    There's more to it than just running Windows on ARM -- you need to run the actual apps that keep you tied to Windows, and those that run on ARM are few and far between. Certainly most people don't run Windows just because they need to run Solitaire and MS Paint.
    razorpitcornchipmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 76
    lmasantilmasanti Posts: 162member
    One point that I do not see too remarked is that:
    1- In going from Motorola's 68K to PowerPC there were almost no previous experience, except IBM's compilers. Even Metrowerks, a third party company was the way to code.
    2- But when Steve Jobs announced the Intel's transition he told us that… there was always an Intel versions of OSX. That's was due to the fact that the base of OSX, NEXTstep run on X86s.
    3- Now, Apple has a full fledged and operating iOS system running with macOS Intel's 86.

    So, in the last and in this transition, it is more like ‘changing horses’ and not like ‘stipend down of a horse, training a new horse, and then mount it again.’

    As cited, Apple also has a full fledged LLVM stack of compilers and software in place.
    tobianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 76
    normmnormm Posts: 653member
    swineone said:
    In closing, I wager a part of the announcement is going to be an x86 emulation layer with never-seen-before performance. I guess we'll see soon enough.
    There's no reason they couldn't include some hardware support for x86 emulation on their ARM chips.  After all, they make the chips.

    JWSCwatto_cobra
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