Will Apple’s next-gen iPads be faster than Macs?

“Apple has added support for an ARM chip to macOS Sierra, igniting another wave of speculation that it may ship ARM-powered Macs to complement its ARM-powered iOS devices,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld. “The kernel release notes for macOS 10.12 tells us that the OS now supports a new ARM chip family, code-named ‘Hurricane’. This is likely to be a new Apple-designed processor, given that the A7 was called Cyclone, the A8, Typhoon and the A9-series Apple chip was called Twister.”

“This support in conjunction with Apple’s decision to cleanse apps running legacy code from the App Store is setting thoughts in motion. Techtastic observes: ‘Apple can easily make the transition to a different instruction set, for example, switching from x86 to ARM without all apps need to be resubmitted,'” Evan writes. “This makes it possible for Apple to introduce an ARM-based Mac capable of running existing Mac apps, or, indeed, launching an ARM-based iPad capable of running Mac apps in some form. Either way it eases any transition plans.”

“The new A10 Fusion chip is remarkably fast. It has quad-cores, two dedicated to high-performance tasks and two energy efficient cores to handle regular activity. Geekbench tests suggest iPhone 7 scores better on both single- and multi-core than most MacBook Airs; almost as well as a 2013 MacBook Pro and even beats the 12-core Mac Pro in single thread performance,” Evan writes. “One thing we can predict is that it will put a much faster version of the current iPhone’s A10 chip inside next year’s iPad Pros – and these processors will be faster than the ones presently used in current Macs.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in January 2015:

There is no reason why Apple could not offer both A-series-powered Macs and Intel-based Macs. The two are not mutually exclusive…

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

macOS Sierra code suggests Apple could dump Intel processors in Macs for Apple A-series chips – September 30, 2016
The iPhone’s new A10 Fusion chip should worry Intel – September 16, 2016
Apple’s MacBook Pro not likely to sport Intel Kaby Lake processors this year – August 16, 2016
Mac sales to grow in enterprise with new Apple A-series-powered Mac – October 14, 2015
Apple is a semiconductor powerhouse; expect the first ARM-based Macs to appear in 2016 – March 31, 2015
Apple A-series-powered Macs are not only feasible, they may be inevitable – January 15, 2015
Why Apple dumping Intel processors would be disastrous – January 14, 2015
KGI: Apple is designing its own processors for Mac – January 14, 2015
Apple A9-powered MacBook Air? – December 16, 2014
Why Apple will switch to ARM-based Apple A-series-powered Macs – August 27, 2014
Intel-powered Macs: The end is nigh – August 4, 2014
Intel’s Broadwell chips further delayed; not shipping for most Macs until early-mid 2015 – July 9, 2014
Apple will inevitably drop Intel for their own A-series processors in the Mac – June 26, 2014
How long before Apple dumps Intel from MacBook Air? – June 26, 2013


    1. So you’re proposing that a Prius *could be* faster than a Porsche???

      Apple’s A-series chips are compromised to allow for battery life and fanless cooling. No chip that accepts those limitations will ever outperform a desktop class chip that doesn’t constrain itself. Apple would have to significantly re-architect its current chips to change this reality.

        1. Remember Mike has no imagination. At least beyond exaggerating the process required to do so. Time will prove him wrong, as current movements in the Arm based world are already beginning to do should he wish to research them. Fact is any delay in Apple using their chips in Mac based products has little to do with the chip design.

        2. He also thinks that a processor from 2015 clocked at 3.1 GHz is the same as one from 2009 clocked at 3.1 GHz…. so not much imagination or understanding of die shrinks, archetecture changes, efficiency improvements, multiple core counts, multi threading improvements, or the advantages of risc chips. And yes, 48 priuses could easily be more powerful and consume less energy than a Porsche.

        3. Dishonest argument, 48 chips of one flavor versus one of another. Also, where’s your 48 core A chip? You have zero evidence that Apple is even moving in the direction of greater performance, especially since Cook is a classic thin client pusher.

          For processing power, Geekbench 4 is a direct comparison
          * Fastest CISC chip: Intel Core i7-6950X, scoring 29363
          * Fastest A chip: Apple A10 Fusion, scoring 5338

          So it appears that you will have to buy 5.5 Apple chips to achieve the performance of one Intel chip. Power users will gladly keep using the trucks.

        4. It’s not a dishonest argument at all. The A10 has single core performance of 3100, dual core performance (two active cores at once out of 4) of 5500-5600 which means extrapolating a 10 core chip you’d be somewhere around 21000 on Geekbench if all 10 cores were active, in other words about the same as a 12 core 2012 Mac Pro @3.46 GHz. And since a 10 core i7 6950x is 4900 single core and 29000 multicore, that’s not too far behind. It also consumes much less energy, so a 24 core A series chip would be somewhere north of 35000 multicore clocked at 2.35 GHz (the same as iPhone 7). But without thermal constraints, they could clock it around 4.5 GHz and nearly match curent generation Intel chips, while still consuming 20% of the energy. And if you have a 48 core variant, like in a lot of servers that run arm chips, you’re North of 50,000 multicore. Performance wise there’s no reason to think apple couldn’t have been working on this the last 8 years, remember PA semi had a risc ppc variant that was 2X faster than the core 2 duo in 2008, could easily have been improving that design and put it in a desktop based on a souped up arm instruction set.

        5. You’re not even using a Xeon in the competition. You can get them with 72 cores. Apple A-chips are cell phone processors; not “desktop class” processors.

        6. I did include Xeons in the competition, I specifically mentioned the 2012 Mac Pro which uses 12 core Xeons. And they are “desktop class” 3100 single core is most certainly in the same realm as desktop chips from 2012-2014, it’s not that far behind… and if they make a higher power, higher clocked chip…. it could be there. And since they get 30%+ jumps every generation, thorhetically the A11 in the phone next year could be 4000+ single core, and a desktop variant with less thermal constraints could be well north of 5000 single core or higher. You also have to remember that Xeons (the new ones) are haswell based, not skylake.

        7. Xeon chips that Apple installs in the trashcan Mac Pro are based on Skylake from 2013. Maximum of 12 cores.

          The Xeon E7-8800 & 4800 chips released in June are Broadwell and offer 24 cores and a lot of features. Tom’s Hardware notes that it has 70% more encryption performance.

          Bottom line: it’s not Intel’s fault that Apple doesn’t update its Macs with the latest chipsets. And to further refute the premise of the clickbait headline: as soon as you show us an A-series chipset with more than 2 active cores, then we can start talking about performance comparisons. Desktop hardware remains untouchable for command latency, transfer speeds, I/O options, error correction, and graphics performance.

          This is in no way knocking Apple for making impressive mobile chips. But they are mobile chips. Admit reality and stop pretending otherwise to satisfy your undying desire to proclaim Apple the unchallenged master of all things.



        8. Typo: The Mac Pro uses Haswell, not Skylake. The 12-core runs Xeon E5-2697v2

          Not E7, and years behind with other manufacturers install in their workstations.

          Again, if the A chip is close to processing power of a Mac, it’s because Apple is failing its Mac users, not because A chips have significantly closed the gap in total processing performance.

        9. Typo: The Mac Pro uses Ivy Bridge, not Skylake. The 12-core runs Xeon E5-2697v2

          Not E7, and years behind with other manufacturers install in their workstations.

          Again, if the A chip is close to processing power of a Mac, it’s because Apple is failing its Mac users, not because A chips have significantly closed the gap in total processing performance.

        10. Ha! I think the remarkable achievements Apple has made in the A Series to date, plus the the fact that Apple engineers are always working multiple years out, make it even money that Apple is close to launching a processor ready to challenge the Intel hegemony.

      1. Prius will never be faster than Porsche. But 6/12/18/24/48 Priuses may be more powerful and efficient than fastest Porsche ever created. The GHz war is over for long.


    I wrote on this very forum 3 years ago that there gonna be a new shift to Ax processors.

    I wrote 3 months ago that changing name to macOS means something. Something more than it seems – macOS has double life. Double life of OS means that transition is on full speed.

    No Intel processor means no Intel chipsets and no classic motherboards needed. What if Apple use own mutliboard design easy to upgrade (coughhhh!!! – i dont believe it too)

    I feel in my guts that in next 12 months there gonna be something huge in personal computing in Apple. A kind of new, groundbreaking idea and jaw dropping architecture based on Ax multiprocessors with blazing speed Nvidia GPUs.

    New Mac Pros / iMacs / Mac Minis /Apple tv may be on the way or there gonna be EOL to this products and we will seee something new like iPad Pro + modular CPU/GPU unit.

    What Apple wants Apple makes or creates. Apple wants to create 100% own made devices.

    Who bought Sharp LCD business? Foxxconn! But who gave them money? Apple should know 😉

    1. Indeed Intel is clearly holding them back substantially in both their design and product timing decisions. That frustration must be driving them mad when they are so close to producing their own silicon that can to a degree match or out perform Intel’s legacy bound offerings. Perhaps in the labs they have a new range of chip Design that has already reached and exceeded that goal, Arm based products certainly look to be on a far faster growth pattern and have greater headroom than those Intel is struggling to produce.

  2. Of course. If you continue to improve the handheld devices and ignore upgrading Macs this will eventually happen. duh!

    iPhones were already more powerful than the first iMac. Is this the logic that Apple will use to kill of Macs? Since we are too lazy to upgrade real Mac Pros we will force you to use crappy CPU’s for your work? Screw that. Linux here I come.

  3. wake me when i can run 500+ tracks of audio in 24/48 with plugs on all of them, with less then 5ms latency…

    then maybe arm is ready for prime time.

    iDevices are not PRO devices.

  4. If they ever try it then they better WOW us with the performance.

    It needs to be a leap in my opinion, not just on par in my opinion.

    My only concern is the Mac is already suffering from a lack of love from developers, who is going to left after a major transition?

  5. It’s not just the speed, but if an iPad will ever made to REALLY replace a MacBook/laptop and even to be on par with whatever desktop Mac will ben the future technology.
    I want tablet computers and iPads, in particular, to stop being lesser productivity, “companion” computers and be a true alternative to the current, commonplace ideas, designs/concepts of the current mobile laptop computer mindset.
    Being able to easily run multiple apps side by side without lags, hiccups and slowdowns.
    iPads keep getting more powerful, but Apple keeps pushing that power in the wrong direction.
    A lot of users, like myself, do not want an iPad as a social media device.
    Leave most of the social media messaging and some of the other social media functionalities to the iPhone and iPod Touch and give iPad users more full blown desktop /laptop computer functionality.
    This is what I am REALLY looking for for the iPad.

  6. This being the 5th Anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death I was thinking about three things he said.

    1- Before coming back to Apple he said:
    “If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth – and get busy on the next great thing.”
    2- After the launch of OS X he said it would be the base of the Mac for the next 15 years.
    3- In an interview with Walt Mossberg at the D Conference he made the now famous analogy of Macs and mobile devices to cars and trucks. And that most people these days no longer need trucks.

    If you do the math Apple has been running in the bones of OS X for 15 years plus and they think mobile devices are the ‘next big thing’. iOS was developed from a subset of Mac OS X and both have incorporated the maturing Swift Language.

    For all the fuss, both Apple and Microsoft are moving in essentially the same direction- Apple by morphing iOS into a full featured device and Microsoft morphing a desktop OS to a mobile platform with Windows 10. Take away file access and device drivers from a Windows 10 Tablet and you are very close to where Apple is taking the iPad.

    Hell may freeze over twice.

  7. Any new machine Apple creates will have to support third party profesional software with current stability or no profesional will replace their Intel/AMD Macs or PCs. And that is the most difficult part for Apple because it does not depend on Apple itself and there are lot of applications.

    Another possible implementation for an Apple chip for the Mac could be to create co-processors to speed up certain tasks and to keep adding feature support.

    Take Otoy as an example. They say they teamed with Imagination deliver a 10x increase in ray tracing performance per watt over the best GPGPU. This is for a video game render engine supporting Unity3d and Unreal but also for their own plug-in supporting 22 profesional applications.


  8. Look, this whole argument is folly. It’s about the software. Like it or not, the viability of the Mac relies on its ability to run Windows and Linux software. That software runs complex instruction sets, which ARM cannot. Period, end of story.

    Regardless of architecture or instruction sets, cooling is the key to allowing a chip to run faster. In a passively cooled mobile device, you’re going to hit a performance wall. A desktop machine doesn’t need to have such cooling limitations, and efficiency isn’t a limiting factor either.

    Macs have fallen dramatically behind the performance of the latest gaming and workstation PCs, because Apple has compromised its designs to be thinner and more fashion oriented. The reason the 2015 MacBook is as slow as an iPad is because it has no active cooling. That is a mistake that Apple has to correct if it wants the Macs to be viable going forward. Macs need to run CISC programs and they need to offer top performance in ways that matter to the high-performance computing crowd. ARM delivers neither for the foreseeable future. If Apple releases a Surface RT like Mac, then it will achieve the same result as Microsoft did — a pretty thin device that is useless and uncompetitive with the market.

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