Apple’s iPad Pro will be the only Mac you ever need

“Details about ARM’s chip roadmap… could enable Apple to introduce new breeds of ARM-powered Mac/iPad/hybrid devices,” Jonny Evans writes for Apple Must. “The Cortex-A73 is faster than the Nvidia GeForce GTX 740M used in some laptops in 2013.”

“Processors using this design should deliver double the performance of a 20nm 1.9GHz A57 ARM design that powered the 64-bit 2014 iPhone,” Evans writes. “They will also deliver 1.3 times the performance of the 16nm 2.5GHz A72 reference design that powers the current Apple A-series iOS chips.”

“Where these processors will really change the game is the iPad Pro, future iterations of which will become capable of increasingly complex computing tasks currently handled by traditional desktop and notebook computers,” Evans writes. “In other words, iPad Pro will be the only Mac you ever need.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Like most things, Steve Jobs saw what was coming:

When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that’s what you needed on the farm. But as vehicles started to be used in the urban centers, cars got more popular. Innovations like automatic transmission and power steering and things that you didn’t care about in a truck as much started to become paramount in cars… PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people. – Steve Jobs, June 1, 2010


  1. Until it hosts 16GB of RAM, several TB of disk space, has better performance than a current Core i7 system, has expandable ports, supports USB, firewire and thunderbolt natively, comes with a 27″ display and the ability to run one or more 27″ displays, runs all of the latest DAWs effectively, (Pro Tools, Studio One Pro 3, Live 9, Logic Pro X, etc.), can host multiple AUs concurrently with ease, then …. it’s nowhere *near* close to being the only Mac that an existing desktop music producer will ever need.

    Don’t get me wrong – I am a strong proponent of professional music creation with the iPad and I use multiple iPads for music production in-house, stand-alone (and integrated with desktop systems), for end-to-end creation, from tracking to mastering, but it’s not a *replacement* for (nor even is a proposed souped up iPad Pro a replacement for), a desktop system.

    For example. While I use Notion on the iPad to produce complete rendered tracks, and Notion is a *great* program, I’m limited by the samples available. I’m in the process currently of loading 194GB of orchestral samples (just orchestral samples) on a desktop system. I’d *love* to use those on the iPad, but it’s not even close to being able to support doing so nor likely to be any time soon.

    I could multiply such examples.

    I *love* using the iPad. (I don’t have a Pro, I work mainly with minis presently), and I make extensive use of them as I say in music creation with the wonderful apps (over 750 of them) that are available for music creation that work wonderfully together. I love Auria Pro, Animoog, iMini, Moog Model 15, etc. etc. Many many more, but I can’t run LuSH on the iPad, nor Reaktor, nor Pro Tools etc.

    They’re not *equivalent* but complementary devices and no sign of that changing. One use case does not fit all use cases.

    1. Ditto. I find it humorous those who think all computing needs can be filled with an iPad, much as I love mine. Many people might be able to get by but you can’t deny the continued wonderfulness of sitting in front of a large monitor with a cup of tea or coffee and getting your work, and social media, needs done on a large comfortable canvas. There is simply a system or way of working that’s always existed since the 70’s that is simply more ergonomic, and doubtful it will ever go away. Huddling around tiny devices for long lengths of time, however capable, doesn’t work for me and I suspect many – much as we may also use and love them for what they are.

      1. The whole debate seems stupid to me.
        Even if an iPad were just as powerful and had all the same software — I’m going to switch from my 27″ screen to 12″!!!!!!!!!! I don’t think so.

        1. Exactly my point. Large monitor – comfy chair – oodles of computing capability = Mac. Why would you ever give that up completely? Maybe someday when midair projection hologram technology & OS’s are invented.

    2. Ye of so little imagination.
      It’s already an iPad world, you’re just living in it.
      I get it, cold dead hands and all, but one morning you’re going to wake up and pick your iPad off the floor, walk over to your desk, drop it in the cradle and start work on your 27″ display without even thinking about it.

      I recently had a client FINALLY upgrade a bunch of circa 2007 white iMacs to current ones. I told them that there is a strong possibility this will be the last Mac they purchase.

      If they take about 7 years to upgrade, it will be 2023 when they think about it again, if not further. By that time the evolution will be complete and the revolution will have taken place without you noticing.

      Your iPad will be the standard for general purpose computers.

      Every day you pass by and read MDN. Note how much “Mac” news there is on a Mac website vs. iPHones and iPads.

      Apple is an iOS company.

      1. don’t know what type of computing you do or what type of clients you have ( “white iMacs to current ones. I told them that there is a strong possibility this will be the last Mac they purchase.”)

        but note:

        A SIX YEAR old previous generation “cheese grater” Mac Pro with upgraded video card has in some tests more than 2 TIMES the GPU performance of a NEW 5K Retina iMac.

        ( shows that the cheese grater runs Diablo at 181 fps , the Retina iMac at 74 fps. I know that games probably don’t need that kind of fps but it’s just an indication of GPU power. This in spite of the fact the six year old mac has a lower powered subsystem, processor etc. Imagine the difference between the iMac and a CURRENT PC workstation with the latest subsystems etc ).

        there is whole segment of high end users which Apple is neglecting.

          1. yes

            MacObserver has got many of the points right.

            I would add for the budget pro, hobbyists a Mid Tower priced between the Mac Mini and the Pro with one muliti-core Workstation processor, upgradeable Ram, Video & HD and perhaps one or two slots and Thunderbolt 3 would also be desirable.

            1. The hard part to get used to is just how much of a minority so called “pro” users are. Apple is basically giving those people to Windows. Right now you can build far more powerful Windows machines with all the expansion and flexibility you want for a fraction of the cost of a Mac. And if you want to go above and beyond what the average “pro” needs, you can go way beyond.

              Just ordered my new 10 Core Intel i7 today. Mac users are not likely to see this chip or new GTX 1080 GPUs for quite some time.

              If you’re holding your breath waiting for Apple to start building “TRUCKS,” better to exhale and re-evaluate.

        1. Businesses take 7 years to update because at a certain point, way back when, computers became “fast enough” for most people. Apple only has to create mediocre Macs to satisfy the majority of Mac users.

          The need for high-performance computing is becoming rare because even the slowest of new computers is faster than what most people require.

          Now consider what happens when the iPad becomes so fast that the bottleneck is the user. This is the sweet spot that caused the shift from the mainframe to desktop computers. It will happen again when the iPad becomes so fast (it pretty much is already) that you don’t notice a significant difference in using it vs a conventional computer. iPads do what most people require pretty much as fast as conventional computers do.

          This will certainly happen with tablets and phones in 7 years I guarantee you. Hince someone buying a new Mac today, could very well be purchasing the last Mac/Conventional computer they ever will.

          In fact, the iPad will leapfrog high-performance gaming machines of today, which are well beyond the needs of the majority of computer users.

          This is why, when this client decides to upgrade again, it is very likely that they won’t be choosing Macs, they will be choosing mobile devices i.e. tablets and phones.

      2. Not in my studio setup I’m not. 🙂

        Until iOS is opened up to be more like Mac OS – or other open UNIX – it’s restrictive. Again, remember, I *love* working with iPads, and in the same field as I use desktops, but the restrictions aren’t going away (soon enough) for that to be a reality.

        I and others working in this field are constantly having to work *around* the increasing restrictions that Apple place on iOS and it’s becoming more unhelpful in each major release.

        If the trend is actually for Mac OS to become more like iOS, then it’s a very poor trend indeed that does not support common existing open workflows that have been in place for a very long time.

        A very simple example is file management. iOS’s file management is so locked down that it’s virtually unusable and where it is usable between apps it’s very clumsy compared to the ease of use of the command line on Mac OS (I’m a UNIX programmer too – *far* faster and more productive to use the CLI in many circumstances).

        Cloud services are most definitely not the answer. Studio machines are often not permanently connected to the Internet in any case for a variety of reasons: optimal speed, security, local storage.

        Not being able to selectively turn off (kill) unwanted processes / services is another issue in iOS that was even further locked down post iOS 8 because of the removal of sysctl() functionality – unhelpfully.

        Again, external access to the file system was *further* reduced in iOS 8 which prevented applications like iFunbox being as usable as they had been to manage iOS app contents.

        Sure, *some* of these things will evolve and get better I don’t doubt, but the trend of moving things into a more locked down, controlled and inaccessible setup is contrary to usability – it’s the dumbing down trend that shoehorns users into one way of working. The world is bigger than that. That’s why jailbreaks exist for iOS… (and now of course they’re legal again for iPads).

        I use Linux and Windows systems as well. I’m not locked in to the Apple ecosystem. I use Macs because they give the most flexible options in the studio setups I use but if they move toward being more iOS like it would take away the ease of use and functionality. I like Macs. I like iOS. I like Linux (I don’t like Windows – at least not past 7, at all! 🙂 ).

        My work involves imagination. I like to imagine scenarios where the tools I want and need to perform the things I need to do continue to be available without top-down control. Linux provides that flexibility to some extent, but doesn’t provide the *features* I need for audio work. (I can’t run PT, S1 Pro, Live, Logic etc. on Linux (and I’m a member of the Linux audio community as well – aware of what’s happening there but it’s a small (very small) part of what can be done on Mac OS or Windows currently)).

        So, resepectfully, overall I don’t envisage what you are suggesting being valid even 7 years from now. Maybe, maybe not. I doubt it. Let’s come back in 7 years and see 😀

        1. I wish Apple senior management will read posts like yours and some of the others on this forum.

          TC and Apple SVPs spend so much time attending award ceremonies (not related to Apple), social work, fashion shows, celebrity parties (all perhaps OK except Mac Pros are six times slower than PC workstations) I wish they would ALSO

          visit high end Mac using Studios, Labs, institutions and other businesses etc, talk to Mac User Groups, attend PC using centres like Game conventions etc.
          when is the last time anybody has read SVPs doing this vs the fashion shows, social work etc. ?
          I think apple senior management has lost touch with certain segments of Mac users.

          Jony Ive has time to design furniture for charities, perhaps another ‘good deed’ BUT the Mac Pro hasn’t been updated for 3 years.

    3. That would be the equivalent of a truck. No one reasonable is saying that Macs will go away. Just that they will be used by 1 out of x people. No one knows what the value of X is right now.

  2. I looked at a Pro last week. Great machine. My problem is that backup is via the cloud. I want Time Machine. I am simply not going to trust my backup to another company even Apple. I have a great little Seagate hard drive and I also use a 64 GB Flash drive

  3. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!

    Damn, I just spit out my coffee. To freak’in hilarious.

    iPads are toys. Macs do work. It’s not even remotely possible to do half of what I do on my Mac on some toy iPad.

  4. Eventually tablets will replace laptops but not quite yet. The pieces are coming together and will need improved processors, OS and peripheral support to provide the total package.
    What amazes me is that there are still many functions that tablets can offer but these lack the software support. Tons of games are available but not much in productivity. That in my mind is what is holding back adoption.

    1. Only maybe for consumers with relatively simple needs. Tablets and phones, even though we are most grateful to have them, are for mobile convenience and that’s how most will use them for some time to come.

  5. I don’t know what the Speed Benchmarks are for the stuff Evans is talking about but if it’s more than SIX times faster than the current cylinder Mac Pro (like some PC workstations already are)

    … can open several CPU/GPU intensive programs like Lightwave, Zbrush, Adobe suite (Photoshop, Illustrator etc) simultaneously, can power three large monitors (two large high rez and a Cintiq) AND

    beat competitors using PCs with 24 or more cores, twin 12 GB video cards and 512 GB of Ram (the current Mac Pro apple sells maxed at two 3 GB cards, 64 GB ram)
    ( In tests a HP workstation can render a file in 2 hrs it takes a cylinder Pro 12 hrs… )

    and is upgradable for Video, Ram, HD

    OK fine, otherwise as much as I love my iPad,
    PLEASE apple build a SERIOUS Pro Mac ….

    you know something which is actually faster than the hackintosh people build in their basements which are way faster than the Cylinder Pro…

    1. I don’t think Evans is saying every task a Mac does can be done by an iPad Pro — I think he is saying that the processor road map makes it obvious that the list of things an iPad pro cannot do will inevitably shrink as time moves forward.

      1. “I don’t think Evans is saying every task a Mac does can be done by an iPad Pro ”

        what does:

        “iPad Pro will be the only Mac you ever need”

        like ” ONLY ” Mac sound like to you?

        look at my post, I’m saying if the road map Evan’s is touting can match even current PCs (i. e SIX times faster than the cylinder) and put the chip etc into a device that is upgradable and that can power 3 monitors with a bunch o high end apps running etc GO AHEAD, otherwise build a real pro mac…

          1. maybe you should re read my posts?

            1. Evans IS saying that the iPad can replace a Mac (albeit eventually in time)
            2. I’m saying (look at my first post) GO AHEAD (“it’s fine”) IF the iPad can do all the stuff I say PCs can do .

            or is that too much for you?

    2. Why Dave you sound just a little miffed at Apple letting the Mac Pro languish and no word of anything newer anytime soon. Well, ditto.

      Not long now at WWDC before I find out if I can buy a new 2016 Mac Pro, or be forced into a PC Workstation solution. My patience has come at last to an end.

      1. why is it that Apple is striving so hard to make money like hiring thousands of engineers to work on new stuff (i.e money is important to them) YET don’t build Macs people have been clamouring to buy for years (like a proper Mac Pro and a Mid Tower between the Mac Mini and the Pro)?

        My finger has been poised on the buy button for years waiting.

        (and flamers note : Macs made more money than iPads last quarter, probably sold 2-3 times the Apple Watch, has lower marketshare than iPhones , is a larger business in profit than Dell, or Acer or Lenovo… )

        letting Apple fans like PBllood go ” or be forced into a PC Workstation solution. My patience has come at last to an end” is a WASTE.

        Me: Mac nut for years and Aapl investor.

        1. We’re both in the same boat of frustration. And other pro friends of mine feel the same who are also Mac afficionado’s. You like to think Apple feels the pulse of a market and overrides Jonny Ives design impulses for the good of a market segment as special as the pro one is.

          And yes there’s no way I WANT to switch platforms. I just WANT what the pro market NEEDS, and it doesn’t come in a tidy little minimalist minimally upgradeable incomplete package.
          Me Too: Mac nut since ’92 and longtime AAPL investor.

    3. slip up:
      the max pro maxes out at twin 6 not 3 GB cards.

      apple sells max 64 GB ram which is correct but it’s possible to get 128 GB outside (OWC I believe) which I’ve stated before but didn’t write here. .

      it’s possible to get PCs with 44 – 48 cores etc, 12 GB cards, 512 Ram etc.

      which is unfortunate for there is a certain segment Mac user segment who need power.

  6. This is one of the unrealistic (at this time, anyway) memes of the year. As such: *yawn*

    BUT: I can entirely believe in the gradual migration of both Apple software and third party software over to the Apple A-Series ARM processors. But it would have to be a FULL migration, including deep down to full CLI access with ALL the accompanying UNIX tools. iOS would have to become an honest to goodness NeXT incarnation of Mac OS X on ARM.

    That’s going to take time. No way is it going to happen this year, or next year. It would be an evolutionary process.

    Yes, an emulator for current Mac OS X could be created to run on iOS. But it would require extensive licensing of CPU level code owned by Intel, x86 APIs owned by Intel, advancement of iOS device hardware to professional Mac equivalent 64-bit hardware, etc. There would be NO virtualization as ARM CPUs do NOT support it. That would be a GRAVE decline in the speed of x86, Intel Mac native code, a massive bump in the road that would deter Windows victims from switching over to Mac.

    I’ll stop there. I think the above gives a good idea of the challenges. If there are those who disagree with the above, go study the processors involved. Start by studying CISC processors versus RISC processors, figure out which is which in this situation and the innate limitations of both processor types. That way you can begin to know what you’re talking about.

      1. Thank you. I have no idea when the virtualization extensions article was written. But I’d imagine Apple would be following the progress of that tech. I know Apple has not integrated it into the A9, at least in public documentation. Maybe they will in special A-Series chips for the iPad Pros.

    1. We’ve been through this virtualisation before. When Mac ran on PPC chips, there was VirtualPC (from Connectix, later acquired by MS), which allowed virtualisation of Intel x86 architecture inside System 9 on a PPC Mac. It was running at roughly 10% of the speed of the Mac processor (i.e. if you had a PPC G5 chip running at 1.2Ghz, VirtualPC behaved like a 120MHz Pentium II), but it (mostly) worked.

      As far as emulation of Mac software for Intel, we’ve been through a similar process before, with Rosetta, allowing PPC code to run on Intel.

      Apple has been known to do these kinds of 180-degree turns, which required developers to scrap old codebase and rebuild their apps practically from the ground up, for the new hardware. From 68k to PPC, from System 9 to OS X, from PPC to Intel, from 32-bit to 64-bit. And in all cases, most developers (certainly, the important ones) went along (kicking and screaming).

      If Mac were to transition back to RISC processors, I can’t think of a reason why the same thing wouldn’t happen again. And once Mac and iOS are running on the same or similar chipset, final consolidation of UI and OS can begin.

      1. You confused virtualization with emulation. Therefore, I’m not going to address the rest of your post. I’ve pointed out the DIFFERENCE between virtualization and emulation many times already here at MDN. Do your homework kids!

        1. I’m not going to go into the semantics here. Runing Intel software on Intel hardware is trivial; whether it is Windows software on Windows OS, or Windows OS virtualised inside a Mac OS, but on Intel hardware, it is never a major issue.

          To avoid leaving nits to pick, I’ll clarify here that I’m talking about EMULATION. Apple has already done that. The migration from PPC to Intel had an emulation layer (Rosetta), which did exactly that — emulated RISC PPC architecture on an OS running on Intel architecture. And it worked remarkably well. It was obviously much slower, but it worked — significantly better than the commercial emulators, such as VirtualPC worked on PPC (emulating Intel). Reasons are various and a bit technical, but the point is, it allowed Apple to buy people (users and developers) some time during the migration.

          As I said above, Apple has done these large-scale migrations before. Some were more painful than the others, but most of them required developers to rebuild their code for the new architecture. Nothing prevents Apple from doing this again.

          1. Emulation is slow and unacceptable in this day and age. jonnyr23 sent me a comment with a link to information about a virtualization extension that is underway over at ARM. THAT looks promising and would wipe out my concerns about virtualization on Apple A-Series chips WHEN Apple decides to build virtualization into A-Series chips, which they have NOT thus far.

            1. Well, I don’t know which way Apple will go. They’ve done emulation before, and it was a success (with respect to its intended purpose). If they can actually virtualise a CISC architecture on a RISC machine, that would make the transition even more transparent.

              In the end, there is another important factor to consider. Efficient virtualisation that has minimal performance penalty may lower the developer motivation to migrate the code to the new architecture. Why bother if it works reasonably well?

            2. I think Derek has explained in the past that emulation is when you place a layer/manager to translate the physical architecture to what the ‘guest’ OS needs to run. Usually this means either a different architecture altogether or earlier versions of the underlying architecture. Virtualization on the other hand manages OSes made for the underlying hardware, sort of time-sharing in a way, and is a much ‘thinner’ layer than emulation. It is unfortunate that in most marketing the terms seem to be used interchangeably.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.