Apple ‘A’ series-powered Macs on tap for Thursday?

“There have long been rumors that Apple would port the macOS to its ARM-based ‘A’ series processors, replacing Intel CPUs on some Macs. These rumors keep surfacing year after year, without any real evidence,” Kevin Krewell writes for Forbes. “While I’m not going predict that Apple will unveil A10-based Macs this Thursday, there’s evidence that Apple is moving towards that goal. One of the most fundamental challenges for Apple will be the performance of Apple’s in-house A series processors compared with Intel’s Core processors. According to respected newsletter Microprocessor Report, Apple’s own processors are now hitting that goal.”

Apple’s investment in custom CPU design continues to pay off, as the new iPhone 7 delivers better performance than any other flagship smartphone and outscores even some low-end PCs. The phone uses a new processor chip, the A10 Fusion, that contains not one but two custom CPU designs, representing Apple’s first foray into the Big.Little approach that many other mobile processors employ. The massive Hurricane CPU improves performance by 35% over the previous-generation Twister, boosting both the clock speed and the per-clock performance. The smaller Zephyr CPU helps the iPhone 7 extend battery life compared with its predecessor. — Linley Gwennap, Linley on Mobile newsletter, October 20, 2016

“Intel’s Core M products run at only 1.3 GHz in order to sneak under the 5 Watts limit for fanless operation. Only under-clocked Intel Core M processors can fit into thin and fanless MacBooks, but it is possible to use Hurricane at clock speed over 2GHz in fan-less designs like the Apple iPhones,” Krewell writes. “In addition, Hurricane could lower Apple’s costs, make for thinner MacBooks, and give longer battery life, while still offering competitive performance for ported applications.”

“Apple’s relationship with Intel has not always been smooth. Intel took what it the learned from Apple’s MacBook Air products and helped to create the UltraBook category for Windows PCs,” Krewell writes. “Tthe dependence on Intel probably makes Apple uncomfortable.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple owning the primary technologies is, as always, crucial.

I’ve always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do. – Steve Jobs, October 12, 2004

[Apple’s] reason for being is the same as it’s always been — to make the world’s best products that really enrich people’s lives. That hasn’t changed. And we do that through owning the primary technologies. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, August 9, 2016

‘Hello Again’ means Apple ‘A’ series-powered Macs – October 24, 2016
Three new Mac laptops appear in Russian regulatory database ahead of Thursday’s ‘hello again’ event – October 24, 2016
Apple’s A10 Fusion chip ‘blows away the competition,’ could easily power MacBook Air – Linley Group – October 21, 2016
Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple to unveil new 13-inch MacBook, 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros at ‘hello again’ special event – October 22, 2016
What to expect from Apple’s ‘hello again’ special Mac event – October 21, 2016
What Apple’s new MacBook Pro might have learned from iPhones and iPads – October 21, 2016
It’s official: Apple sends invitations for ‘hello again’ event on October 27th – October 19, 2016
Get ready, Apple’s new Macs are finally set to arrive! – October 19, 2016
All-new MacBook Pro, refreshed MacBook Air and iMac, and more coming at Apple’s October 27th special event – October 19, 2016
Apple plans to launch new Macs at special event on October 27th – October 18, 2016
Apple’s A10 Fusion chip miracle – September 20, 2016
The iPhone’s new A10 Fusion chip should worry Intel – September 16, 2016
Apple’s remarkable new A10, S2, W1 chips alter the semiconductor landscape – September 15, 2016


  1. If they switch to A-chips, I guess it won’t matter if they remove the headphone jack, the escape key, or require fingerprint sensors.. I won’t be able to use it for work anymore because I need to run unix.

      1. Both macOS and iOS are based on UNIX, and on both you can access the UNIX shell using terminal (iOS requires a jailbreak, but UNIX is certainly underneath). MacOS that will be running on that A-chip will be no different that what is running on current Intel Macs, which isn’t different from what used to be running on PPC Macs.

        Unless you require a specific flavour of UNIX (or Linux) that hasn’t yet been ported to the A-chip-based Macs (due to them being non-existent as yet), whatever you do in UNIX on current Macs should be doable on any future Mac, regardless of the chipset it is running on.

        Not to mention that I don’t doubt that many of the popular open-source flavours of UNIX / Linux will be ported over within a year (at most).

      2. Yeah, they do. They have a lot of options for customization, including a choice of either NVMe or ACHI M.2 Solid State Drives and two hard drive bays. Some of their laptops can go up to 32 gigabytes of RAM and one of them can go up to 64 gigabytes of RAM.

        1. If you want a thick and heavy portable workstation optimized for Ubuntu Linux, then System 76 might be your choice. They do offer a 17″ display option, which is nice. I saw one of these things at work a few years ago. It would run about 45 minutes on its internal battery and its power brick weighed About 1/2 of an entire MacBook Pro. But it is big and thick with lots of fans so thst you can throw a more powerful graphics card inside. I am glad that the System 76 options exist for people who need that kind of portable computing power. If that is what you want/need, then you might as well buy it. Apple will never make a laptop like a System 76. Apple will, however, eventually cram System 76 specs into a MacBook Pro that will run for many hours on the internal battery…it is only a matter of time.

    1. Why do you assume that “UNIX” will not be available on an A series based Mac? Read Predrag’s post and think a little bit. UNIX is probably a better fit for ARM-based processors than it is for Intel processors.

  2. Something should be done to revitalize the whole industry. Hardware developments have devolved from compelling releases every 18 month so so, Moore’s law, to good enough releases with the next hyperthreading optimizations. The world is rapidly filling with good enough products. I would love to see apple release an a series laptop to try to breakout the industry. End the dependence on old x86 code and old Cisc optimizations. Here’s hoping that apple releases this technology and sets it free.

    1. Apparently, Moore’s law has hit the physical limits. The law of diminishing returns has kicked in, and it is now rapidly becoming quite difficult to double the performance every two years.

      I remember my office buying IBM desktops with 386 processors at 30MHz in 1991. They were replaced by 75Mhz 486 machines in ’92; then by 166Mhz Pentium in 95; then by 300Mhz Pentium II in 97; then by 600Mhz Pentium III in 99, 1GHz P4 in 2001… The GigaHerz numbers stopped growing somewhere around 2 – 2.5 GHz (around 2005), and instead, we started getting more cores, but that didn’t make up for the slowdown with the chip clock rate growth.

      The reason that overall PC (as well as Mac) sales have slowed is because the new PCs aren’t significantly faster than the old ones. Windows makers keep pushing marginally faster computers in order to capture whatever market share they can, but Apple sees no reason to re-engineer their Macs every few months if the newer models are going to be almost the same as the old ones.

  3. Aside from the performance and upgradeability difference, another major concern is software compatibility. Apple would need to make a compatibility layer like Rosetta to bridge the gap between Intel and ARM software during the period of transition. During that period of transition, Apple would need to work on getting big software companies (i.e Microsoft, Adobe and Blizzard) to compile their software for ARM CPUs. The other issue with companies having to compile software for ARM is that it might force Mac owners to re-buy their software, or at least the software which they installed from optical media. Game developers could give away the ARM versions of their software to people who already paid for the Intel version, but they might charge for them because the OpenGL code would need to be converted to Vulkan, which in turn would need to be converted to Metal.

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