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  • What the Apple Silicon M1 means for the future of Apple's Macs

    What specific things will the Apple Silicon Mac’s not be able to do that the preceding Mac’s could?
    Obviously we won’t be able to BootCamp and run 32-bit applications with an older system, but what else will not be possible?
    Will we still be able to boot off an external device? I assume with the integration of system memory that memory upgrades on desktop Macs will be a thing of the past too. So much for getting around Apple’s overpriced memory premiums, or will this be still possible somehow? What might this mean for PCI based expansion cards? Will these still work when in a thunderbolt enclosure or directly installed in a Mac Pro? 
    It’s an exciting new step but I will like to know how these things will be restricted too. Faster is good, but is it still extendable like our current and past Macs or are these more commoditized devices that will run Mac software but not the same types of Hardware?
    Some of the limitations you're seeing are also present in the models replaced. Intel MBA shipped with 8 or 16 GB RAM unexpandable. 
    Thunderbolt essentially is a PCIe slot over a cable. Until now, it was an Intel technology that required Intel silicon (a TB controller chip). That's why iPad Pro doesn't support TB3.

    With the new TB4 spec, Intel decided to begin licensing it like USB, and allowing third parties to implement their own controller. Apple created support for TB (apparently lacking full support for the whole new TB4 spec, as it only calls it TB, plus USB4. This suggests that future Apple Silicon Macs could perhaps support PCIe compatible slots or TB-based connectivity to external PCIe slots. M1 Macs do not support eGPUs (PCIe GPU cards in an external box connected by TB), but that's could be simply because it hasn't been implemented yet. It also might not ever make sense for Apple to do the work to support eGPUs, giving it a monopoly over Mac GPUs. Seems like this is not what Apple is trying to do here tho.

  • What the Apple Silicon M1 means for the future of Apple's Macs

    JWSC said:
    It will be interesting to see what kind of bill of material reduction Apple is seeing with so many circuit card components being replaced by one single chip.
    It sure would be interesting to see this, but nobody outside of the very internal core of Apple has any real numbers. The BOM that will inevitably get "estimated" will be total conjecture. Previous iPhone BOMs threw out figures like "$15 - ARM chip" that were total hogwash. 

    While Apple is certainly saving money over using multiple chips, or paying Intel and AMD a premium for their IP, I'm not sure that Apple is immediately saving huge sums building a some slice of their own processors in this first batch. 

    Apple has supported custom SoC development for iPads by selling massive volumes of them, while sharing a lot of the expense with even higher volumes of iPhones--inclding sharing most of the work to write/optimize iOS. For the M1, Apple had to do a LOT of very custom work unique to the Mac and macOS, which it will only initially ship across its entry notebooks and mini, perhaps half (?) of its total Mac shipments. Even if they might sell at a higher margin, the company sells a lot fewer Macs than iOS devices. That suggests it will take longer to amortize the initial costs of developing M1 and all the work in Big Sur and elsewhere. 

    However, that also means that as it expands to deliver an "M1X" for higher end MBPs and iMac, it will have done much of the foundational work already. Each new M generation should add to the cost savings and perhaps erase more of the expensive third party components in its Mac lineup (higher end Intel CPUs and AMD's discreet GPUs). 

    So while M silicon should help drive down Apple's costs over time, I don't think it is making vastly higher margins on these first models. And it can certainly afford that, of course. It's also useful to point to that very few other companies could assume the risk of taking on such a massive project with the hope of it paying off, and at the risk of Intel   or AMD pulling ahead and erasing the value of that work. Just assembling the silicon talent to start on M1 effectively took 12 years of making +$1Trillion on iOS shipments.  

    That's why these reports that announced that "Microsoft also has a custom ARM chip!" were so grossly misleading. 
  • How Apple Silicon Macs can supercharge computing in the 2020s

    The article gets many things wrong.  The transition from 680x0 to PowerPC was a very good move.  The article implies that the switch to PowerPC was a bad move because no one else in the industry used PowerPC chips.  That had nothing to do with it.  The 680x0 architecture was going nowhere.  The 68060 to replace the 68040 was not much faster and required a lot of re-writes to take advantage of it.  The PowerPC, on the other hand, offered huge performance boosts that were much faster than Intel at the time.  Remember the famous snail ad?  That gave Apple a big boost, especially with the G3, G4, and G5.

    The shift to Intel had nothing to do with compatibility.  The PowerPC reached its limit.  The G5 ran too hot for any type of portable use, and it would actually run slower than a G4, if they managed to shoehorn it into a PowerBook chassis.  IBM also could not produce any faster G5 chips for the desktop.  Intel, on the other hand, had the performance per watt and that is what Apple was looking for.  The Core Duo chips were far superior, and made the MacBook Pro run 5x faster than the G4.  Remember, Apple could not make the products they wanted to make with the PowerPC roadmap.  Also, when Apple acquired NeXT, OpenStep was already x86 native.  All versions of OS X were 100% x86 native behind closed doors.  Apple knew the PowerPC was reaching its limit and had been planning for Intel years before the switch took place.  Boot Camp and running Windows natively was just an added bonus.

    The need to run Windows on Mac is still quite popular for running Windows as a VM on Mac, especially for developing software, so that might be a minor loss.  But Apple shifting to their own processors allows them to release new hardware on their schedule, and not be dependent on Intel.  Apple has done very well with the Intel Macs and it is amazing that the Intel Macs have outlasted both PowerPC and 680x0 Macs in longevity....at 14 years.
    Of course the transition to PPC was necessary, well intentioned and the best option at the time. Apple had few other viable alternatives. As I wrote earlier, Apple had attempted to develop its own silicon in the 80s and failed. It also worked with Acorn to develop a mobile chip (for Newton) that wouldn't have been powerful enough for the Mac. PPC was the right decision at the time.

    The comment that "the difficulty of that transition and its unexpected result might suggest that in hindsight, it was ultimately a mistake to have attempted such a complex and risky task" isn't saying it was a mistake, it's an acknowledgment that in hindsight, it could appear that it was a mistake because it didn't work out as expected. It then notes that despite this, all the work that delivered the PowerPC transition was later applied to the Intel transition. And of course, it also informed the work to develop iOS on ARM.

    As others have noted, NeXT's work in parallel to move its NeXTSTEP OS and tools to PPC also contributed to the knowledge and experience that made its way to Apple as it completed its PPC transition and then moved to Intel (leveraging NeXT's work in x86; Apple's own "StarTrek" x86 work hadn't resulted in a shippable product). 

    By 2005, PowerPC hadn't really "reached a limit." G5 was fast and achieved a clean, shipping 64-bit architecture well in advance of Intel. The problem wasn't architectural. IBM could have kept going, and other PPC partners could have done the work to develop a more mobile friendly, power effecient chip for notebooks. The real issue was that there simply wasn't any economies of scale or shipping volumes to justify either of those efforts.

    Intel meanwhile had acquired its new Core x86 architecture from research and development centered in Isreal. It's own Pentium 4 had indeed reached a dead end in performance per watt. When Apple saw what Intel had with Core, it realized it could get a CPU for its MacBooks and eventually gain chips to replace the G5, even if it required a digression back into 32 bit CPUs for a period of time. It had few other options. 

    Intel also wanted to get its x86 chips into iPad, but by that point Apple realized it could deliver its own customized ARM SoC and have one unified processor architecture for all of its iOS devices, and eventually build that into silicon it could use to power Macs. When did it figure that out? Probably not in 2010. But the radical ambition that drove A-series chips each year was justified by both iPad sales and iPhone sales, and eventually presented itself as an option and alternative to Intel. When I wrote this last year, the comments all complained I was nuts and way too optimistic. Yet here we are. 
  • How Apple Silicon Macs can supercharge computing in the 2020s

    avon b7 said:

    HarmonyOS is real. It shipped last year. Your claim was incorrect. 

    A 14 year old boy can "ship" a Linux distro. What Huawei claimed was that it had a replacement to Android that was better than Android; and that it would prefer to use it, but couldn't for some reason; and that at any moment it could flip a switch and send out phones with its own secretly finished OS on it and they would sell. These were all blatant lies. In a few minutes I could compile a full article full of outrageous lies Huawei has prattled off and the tech media and lapped up off the floor like dogs to vomit. Nobody ever calls them on out their lies. They're a bullshit company run by frauds financed by the PRC.  

    The platform is actually extremely sophisticated (hence over 13,000 APIs and 1,000+ software modules and the planned ability to scale over an all scenario setting). 

    It is wholly ironic that you bring up routers and TVs as this was given as an example of how HarmonyOS could work just a few weeks ago! This isn't pie in the sky! The head of Huawei's software operations gave the following example on stage. 

    It was of a home router coming under attack, detecting the attack and using the resources of the TV (its NPU specifically) to bolster its resources and thwart the attack. All in real time and using AI. And over an ultrafast wireless connection. 

    What an insane thing to say. A router protected from attack by the PRC! Who do you think attacks routers? The PRC. 

    [Irrelevant chatter]

  • How Apple Silicon Macs can supercharge computing in the 2020s

    avon b7 said:
    "Huawei has similarly claimed that it is close to introducing its own internal OS platform out of necessity after the U.S. blocked it from using Google's Android. But this has been merely disruptive to Huawei's sales, because existing Android buyers don't want a non-standard, non-compatible Android alternative."

    HongMeng/HarmonyOS has been in development for years (long before any U.S intervention). It is already shipping in a version 1.0 form on TVs and routers. Some of its components are already shipping in Huawei's Android phones and its watches too. The OS currently has more APIs than Android, 1,000+ modules and the TEE has received the highest level industry security certifications. It is also being aimed at industry and will make extensive use of 5G technologies and AI.

    That is in a different universe to Tizen and WebOS. 

    No it's actually in the "same universe," the same boat even. It doesn't take a sophisticated app platform to run a TV or router. Huawei also blatantly lied about the status of its Android replacement. If it could actually ship on a phone for Android buyers, it would have a long time ago rather than shipping out refreshed old Android phones to skirt the ban.   

    Side note: the word "Universe" inherently means that there is only one. That's why it has the "uni" in it. 

    The U.S geopolitical situation simply sped the whole development process up and made Huawei show its hand a little earlier than planned.


    So now we know it is also already shipping to many car manufacturers and IoT partners and offers a higher level of integration than either Android Auto or Car Play. The cars will have a HiCar 5G Module built into them. It was deployed to manufacturers last year. The OS will reportedly ship on phones next year. It is also already running on custom SoCs (one of which Huawei has even made available to the open market for IoT devices). It will integrate Huawei HiLink connectivity (a protocol that has existed for years for Huawei and partner devices) for integration of devices.

    None of that has anything to do with Huawei being able to ship a smartphone platform. And nobody should be integrating any Huawei/PRC technology into anything unless they are part of China's goal to spy on and steal western technology and expand the influence of the communist party globally.  

    A 'non-compatible Android alternative'?  It is a new system. The whole point is to be an alternative to Android. Compatibility didn't come into its design and it is far, far too early to start affirming what users want. Especially as the world's largest handset market can easily shift its focus to a non-Android world (seeing as GMS is basically irrelevant there).

    The OS foundation will also be open sourced and Huawei is a manufacturer itself and already has thousands of HiLink partner devices on the Chinese market.

    Thanks to HarmonyOS/HMS many of those devices will become available outside China with regionally localised apps. On top of that, Huawei is signing up western partners to deploy HarmonyOS compatible devices. Just this week they signed a deal with Spanish appliance manufacturer Cecotec and it is rumoured that Siemens/Bosch/Audi/BMW etc are also on board. Of course, in addition to industry giants like Haier.

    The only 'current' issue is (once again) geopolitical and concerns chipset fabrication but that is merely an obstacle not an permanent impediment. Huawei has apparently set itself a goal of two years to eliminate dependency on U.S technology, something which will tie in nicely with HarmonyOS 4.

    I know you love your company but it really is just an arm of the communist party and nobody with two brain cells should be integrating any PRC tech into their products. 

    It is also worth remembering that Huawei also has ARM based solutions for HPC/AI /Servers and more recently, Desktops. 

    As for PowerPC, it should also be noted that Apple's PowerPC issues were related to its niche of desktop/laptop computing. Away from that niche, PowerPC was a force to be reckoned with in low power embedded industries (such as within the automobile industry). And of course 'PowerPC' actually lives on under a different guise and enjoys a very good reputation due to its maturity as a platform and the tools available for it. 

    This article was about Apple and its desktop computing platform.