Jeffries: Apple prepping Apple ‘A’ series ARM-based Macs

“Jefferies & Co.’s Hyunwoo Doh today reiterates a Buy recommendation on shares of Samsung Electronics, and a ₩1,700,000 price target, writing that the company may is poised to pick up new contract chip manufacturing business from Apple as the latter moves its Mac line of computers to chips based on ARM Holdings technology, rather than Intel’s x86 processors,” Tiernan Ray reports for Barron’s.

Ray reports, “Citing ‘industry sources’ unidentified, Doh writes that Apple is going to move from x86 to the ARM instruction set architecture because of a few different benefits: ‘We believe Apple will apply ARM’s AP in its PCs, despite it having inferior performance versus Intel’s CPU, for the following reasons: 1) Low power consumption: The PC market is currently focused on increased battery life through low power consumption, rather than on high performance; 2) Cost reduction: ARM’s AP has a simple architecture and the unit price is much lower than the Intel PC CPU, as there are multiple market players; 3) Ecosystem integration: Apple’s iPhones and iPads currently use ARM-based APs; and 4) Manufacture of parts according to Apple’s schedule and designs: While PC manufacturers currently have no option but to accept Intel’s development schedule, ARM merely licenses its designs, which allows companies like Apple the freedom to customize its AP.'”

Apple A7

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: iOS devices and OS X Macs inevitably are going to grow closer over time, not just in hardware, but in software, too:

Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either.MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “MotivDev” for the heads up.]

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45 Comments

    1. Someone trying to boost Samsung shares… they will NO DOUBT take a hit this coming year…

      The iPhone 6… and LG, Google, even MSFT offering better alternatives to current Android lovers (Apple haters.)

    2. This “A” series CPU rumor may be true, but the implication of an upside impact for Samsung is ridiculous. Apple sells tens of millions of iPhones per quarter and around 15 to 20 million iPads per quarter. I seriously doubt that even four million or so Macs sporting the latest “A” series CPU would have much effect on Samsung’s bottom line.

      An eventual switch on the Mac from Intel to Apple’s own CPU designs is entirely possible, especially since Intel has done a relatively poor job evolving lower power CPUs over the past decade and has failed to maintain its focus on Apple as a premier client. In addition, Intel has consorted with the enemy (Samsung) in developing Tizen, etc. But the author’s conclusion that this is a big win for Samsung is without merit. Even if the rumor is true, Apple may very well focus on different chip suppliers, such as TSMC.

  1. I predicted this years ago! i reckon if I am not wrong, back in 2006 or 7.

    In any case, one thing omitted in the article was the further bullet proofing of Apple’s products from internet viruses, worms and trojans by having an Intel incompatible chip, just like in the good old motorola chip days.

    I am thinking of admin authentication of an Apple product via finger print tech to allow downloading or installation of software.

    1. Did you also predict the second coming of Christ?

      Your asinine logic that it is lack of Intel that makes things virus free is pure delusion. Android is ARM based, and look at how many viruses and malware it has. iOS is not afflicted because it has a better designed OS with sandboxed apps, not the hardware.

      1. Plus iOS apps must go through the App Store evaluation process, and I’m sure either the need to register and submit apps for evaluation or the actual examination itself scares off would-be malware distributors. Frankly a very good reason NOT to jailbreak your iDevice and install apps from somewhere other than the App Store.

    2. @ spyintheskyuk. I stand corrected even though I did not mention ARM chips. I was talking about the convergence of iOS and OSX at the time. Having said that, you have displayed your bifurcating ignorance of the subject matter to which you purport to know and that is as follows;- Apple is a co-founder of Styletheme limited, a joint venture between Apple Computers (UK) limited, Acorn Computers Limited and VLSI technology Inc.
      In November 22 1990, it changed its name to Advanced RISC Machines Holdings Limited. The company has one wholly owned subsidiary called ARM Limited. Plenty more of this on their website! as it was very exciting times then.
      So yes, you spotted my omission. But you went and highlighted your own omission….Ignorance!

      As for Riteous dude, I did not claim to be the Holy Bible, so where in my statement did you read what you infer to?
      Yes, a lack of Intel inn the early Macs made them immune to PC viruses but mostly because there were so few Macs to make them profitable to target by crooks, by which time when iMacs incorporated Intel chips, Apple inc. understood the dangers very well and pre-empted them almost totally successfully.
      That lesson has been applied to iOS as you have mentioned, not that you care to mention if Google have a license to re-tool ARM chips for Android use or even if Google are applying due diligence in the development Android to prevent malware.

      Finally for the 3 & 4 5 stars that you got, pity the fools who gave them to you, they have anonymously displayed their ignorance as well! I will now proceed to downgrade them based upon my reposte.

  2. Uh oh, there goes Windows compatibility. Also Apple please don’t orphan my recently purchased Mac Book Pro too soon like my 2005 & 2007 Mac Pro’s experienced. Does this mean both ARM and desktop Intel versions will be available or all-ARM I wonder?

  3. Here is what I imagine for a ARM iDevice. A beautiful keyboard with a built-in trackpad with a sort of built-in Apple TV. Students would all be given iPad minis, iPads, iPod touches etc. If they need a larger screen with “better apps” they simply set their iDevice down beside the keyboard and the monitor comes alive with performance apps delivered from the device or the web. When not on the performance setup they can study, research on their iDevice. Simple, cheap and industry changing. As the performance and apps improve. Wow! You heard it hear first. 😉 Of course the iDevice could also present itself with a nice monitor in a laptop or desktop form. This would allow Apple to extension on the iOS platform. Convergence will come from iOS direction.

  4. If Apple moves it’s desktop devices over to the A chip, it will be more difficult to justify purchases of their hardware. Sure we will still buy Macs, but we won’t be buying Macs for users who need access to Windows. While we are trying to reduce dependency on a given OS, the nature of Apple hardware running both Windows and Mac OS made justification a no-brainer.

    Since Windows systems are headed to $250, and rumored Apple’s change of desktop CPU to a non-intel chip, then a $250 Windows computer is what our users will get. That, or a Chromebook.

    However I think Apple should keep an Intel based systems in the line up, MBA, MBP, iMac, MP. If they drop Intel all together I won’t be able to upgrade based on my job needs.

    1. Apple may well and probably will keep Intel systems in the line up and this may well be a stop gap move to push Intel to consider breaking bread and working differently with Apple .

        1. Breeze,
          Agree! In 10 years, Windows will be more of a niche operations; The only thing that could possibly help MS in the Windows world is if they discovered and crated something to make pads/tablets more relevant to their world.

          The hand writing is on the wall; Apple isn’t blindly moving forward. ARM will have more powerful desktops on tiny devices than what Intel creates unless Intel drastically changes things. Just because Intel is Intel doesn’t mean that they will keep from going down the path of MS. They are already BEHIND in creating for the future.

    2. Haha, a long rant bitching about how badly your users need Windows compatibility, concluded with a threat you’ll buy them Chromebooks (which don’t run Windows) instead.

      1. The point is, we are striving for OS independence. If Apple chooses to abandon Intel, there is no impetus to stay on any platform and the road is open. Either Windows on the cheap or Chrome OS.

        Mac with Intel is better for Microsoft than not. I was thinking how can Microsoft stay relevant. As long as Apple keeps Intel, users don’t have to choose… Users maintain status quo.

        Actually along with VMs, you have access to all operating systems, including Chrome OS.

        Because of Intel, on my iMac, I have access to MS-DOS to Windows 8.1, Mac OS Tiger (unofficially) to Mavericks, NextStep (OpenStep), BeOS, OS/2 Warp 4.5, most versions of Linux/BSD… All of this is without emulation. Granted a lot of these are irrelevant, but it’s amazing non-the less.

        Aside from what I listed above, the iMac only affords access to Mac OS, which all the above is available on any Intel system. Prior to Intel CPUs, I had PPC Macs, but they were not my primary system.

    3. Gollum by name….Gollum by nature.
      Where were you when M$ started hemorrhaging windows customers?

      Where were you when M$ customers were outraged at the prospect of forking out for new peripherals because their existing ones were incompatible with Windows 8?

      Where were you when M$ customers were outraged at having to replace all their peripherals because they were incompatible with Vista?

      If those customers have not yet learnt their lesson as you seemingly haven’t, then you deserve the pain that will surely be handed down to you by Nutella’s M$.

      1. Windows 8.1/8/7/Vista driver stack is not my problem. Microsoft has to make changes, how they go about doing that is up to them. Part of the problem is code signing and how much MS charges hardware vendors to sign their drivers. If it were free, then we wouldn’t have this problem you mention, to begin with. In general the industry wants to sell new hardware anyway, so they play this game too.

    4. I think this would basically affect the MacBook Air initially, perhaps other MacBooks eventually. It would likely NOT affect iMacs, Mac mini, and certainly not the Mac Pro, which is what you would want to run Windows anyway.

      1. They won’t get me a Mac Pro… Not at this time. However having a mixed bag of hardware and OS X is a serious problem. I would suspect they go whole hog or not at all. However that’s Steve’s thinking. Under Tim, I don’t know.

        If they offered a MBA with A8, then the OS might be iOS with multi tasking 2 or 4 apps support. But it won’t be full Mac OS X/XI. That’s my guess.

  5. Surely the ARM-computer becomes its own new thing. iMacs and MacBookPros will still be Intel and thus Windows compatible for the foreseeable future. But people could also buy an… I dunno call it an iPad Pro, which would be 12 inches large and have comparable performance to a low-end MBP, but be purely ARM. It becomes the small new category that is allowed to grow as the wave of the future, slowly eclipsing what came before, like the iPhone did.

    1. This sounds like a pump and dump on Samsung stock to me. Or it’s Apple trying to make Intel sweat to get what they want from them.

      Apple is going to have to keep Intel unless they are willing to lose a substantial part of their base. While the iPad pulls off some amazing tasks in video, music and photo manipulation, I think a chunk of Apple’s base is going to want Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and other products. They would have to be re-eingineered for ARM and Adobe has not been kind to Mac users during transitions. I recall the pain of running Adobe Photoshop on PowerPC before it was re-ported to be optimized. I remember the pain of running it on Intel before they got around to replacing all the PowerPC code. Features also disappeared in the transition. Then again when Apple went 64-Bit, Adobe lagged far behind. I think ARM would be too big of a limitation.

    1. By definition emulation is always slower than virtualization, given otherwise similar hardware. Anyone who lived through Virtual PC in the 90s has seen this.

      With virtualization (and a PCIe flash drive) the virtual Windows I run on my MBP for work does almost everything as fast or faster than most consumer PC boxes.

  6. Current A-processors are no match for current intel processors, so to produce an A processor-powered mac would require at least an 8-core machine to equal a 4-core intel powered machine.
    A second inconvenience is software compatibility. Apple will have to include a Rosetta-like technology layer to solve that. Even more processor cores will be needed to make this kind of emulation perform fast enough.
    Now that the developer of Rosetta (Transitive Corporation) is owned by IBM. Apple will have to develop that technology in-house or get it from a third party.

    So the whole feat seems technically possible but requires a lot of investment and IMHO it produces little advantage (if any)

    1. Exactly! The only advantage everyone keeps repeating is that ARM chips are more energy efficient than x86.

      Which might matter for a device most people use off a battery 99% of the time, where a power cable is an extreme hinderance.

      But that doesn’t include any current Mac form factors, not even the Macbook Air, which is designed to be used comfortably even when plugged in because it’s best used when resting on another surface.

  7. I seriously doubt this will happen. We see this rumor pop up and always from people who don’t understand the complexities of differences between one chip and another, because it’s easy to look a one little silicon square and call it equal to another. But they are not. Apple learned an important lesson going from PowerPC to Intel. They are not likely to repeat making the same mistake twice.

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