Technology analysis of Apple ‘A’ series-powered Macs

“One of the main reasons that Macs do not hold a larger market share is the price,” J. M. Manness writes for Seeking Alpha. “While Macs are not necessarily a lot more expensive than a similarly equipped Windows PC, Apple does not make models that descend into the price points that account for a significant portion of PC sales.”

“Apple is to announce its new Mac line on Thursday (Oct. 27) There has been some speculation that some of the line will be powered by their own A10x processor,” Manness writes. “If Apple does so, then they could cut the price on their low end models drastically, and reach a whole new set of customers, without sacrificing margins.”

“The fact is, the new A10 has reached performance roughly equal to that of a decent laptop and better than 80% of the Ultrabooks on the market,” Manness writes. “As states, developers no longer submit fully compiled binaries. ‘Instead, intermediary bit code is submitted which Apple uses to compile the binary code for the specific CPU architecture. Should Apple release an ARM-based Mac, developers wouldn’t need to re-submit their existing code nor would they need to add any ARM-specific code in order for their apps to run natively on ARM-based hardware.'”

“What this means is that it no longer matters what the underlying architecture is, Apple can compile programs in house for various target systems,” Manness writes. “Apple is now free to change the computing engine on its laptops without pushing a huge new responsibility onto developers.”

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

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

Mac users’ very long wait is nearly over – October 26, 2016
Apple ‘A’ series-powered Macs on tap for Thursday? – October 26, 2016
Apple leaks photo of new MacBook Pro with OLED Magic Toolbar – October 26, 2016
New virtual keyboard layouts in macOS 10.12.1 confirm MacBook Pro OLED ‘Magic Toolbar’ reports – October 25, 2016
Trademark filing suggests ‘Magic Toolbar’ will be Apple’s name for new MacBook Pro OLED touch strip – October 20, 2016
It’s official: Apple sends invitations for ‘hello again’ event on October 27th – October 19, 2016
Apple set to release Final Cut Pro, iMovie updates with support for new MacBook Pro’s OLED ‘Touch Bar’ – 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
Thoughts on Apple’s MacBook Pro OLED touch strip – August 11, 2016
Apple preps all-new MacBook Pro line with OLED touch strip and more – August 10, 2016
Apple’s new MacBook Pro expected to feature OLED touch-panel, Touch ID power button – August 8, 2016
Next-gen MacBook Pro could feature Touch ID power button – June 28, 2016
Leaked photos pretty much confirm 2016 MacBook Pro’s OLED touchpad – June 1, 2016
Thinner, lighter 2016 MacBook Pro may feature OLED display touch bar and Touch ID – May 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

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


  1. “developers wouldn’t need to re-submit their existing code nor would they need to add any ARM-specific code in order for their apps to run natively on ARM-based hardware.”

    Is this true? From my very limited understanding this seems unlikely. But awesome if true.

    1. It sounds like it (the LLVM concept) will work, but this only applies to Apps that one acquires through OS X’s “App Store”.

      That means that classical apps like MS-Office & Adobe are still outside this circle.

      And for more Pro-centric users who rely on such specialty Apps, we’re going to have a 9-18 month wait for these software houses to rewrite our apps, which means no near term hardware buys for us.

      …not that I’m expecting Apple to ever again provide a new Mac Pro, especially in a non-trashcan configuration.

    1. mac computer make up such a tiny small percentage of the chips they sell… intel would maybe blink a little bit, wish them good luck, and then keep moving on to the other 95% of the computing world.

      1. Well considering how much Intel are struggling these days it would hardly be a welcome development. However the main worry would be if Apple can follow it then why not others? After all Arm itself is designing a duper chip architecture for others to exploit and other Arm chip makers though presently unable to match Apples power in their chips will soon be able to do so and Samsung for one will no doubt be contemplating such a chip strategy. Yes the next 5 years could see a testing time for Intel as they labour to milk ever decreasing improvements from its ever aging and thirsty architecture.

    2. I agree with why? above. But I do wonder if this could lead to a big uptick in sales for Macs. If people buy cheap Macs instead of cheap Intel systems that would certainly cut into Intel. Might make them worried for 3-5 years down the line?

  2. I think low end A10 based laptop sold only to education would be a good counter to Chromebooks.

    This can tie together an offering of hardware along with Apple Classroom and Pages/Numbers/Keynote etc. Given the penetration of Chromebooks over the past two years in education markets, Apple may have missed the boat on this.

    1. By low end, I do not mean by performance, as the A10 has been proven to be powerful. I mean this more in terms of flexibility and third party software support. For the education market, you don’t need every piece of software ever written, so you don’t have to worry about how much gets ported to the A10 platform.

  3. What this article does not address — and every person arguing for an A10 based Mac does not address — is the fundamental difference in the implementations of the chips. There one hell of a lot more to the CPU and support chips for a laptop (and desktop) than there is for a smart phone or a tablet. Apple’s A10 is a “system-on-chip” based chip. It tries to include all the support chips — for a phone or tablet — into one. Even Intel’s U series chips (against which virtually everyone compares the A10 and which is NOT suitable even for a higher end MacBook Air) uses support chips specifically designed to work with the Intel chips — though not always the northbridge variants.

    Besides that, Intel’s Kaby Lake chips support so many things natively that the A10 does not.

    As I’ve said here before, *IF* Apple made an A10 for a true MacBook Air or higher laptop it would have to make a chip that is much, much different from the A10 than an “A10x” would ever be. Could Apple do it? Yes. But will Apple introduce a whole new chip line besides the two they already have resulting in three distinct chip lines (watch chip, phone/tablet chip, laptop chip)? They would then have to do a fourth chip line that supports desktops and higher end machines. (I won’t even say “Pro” machines!)

    1. As long as Apple an maintain margins around 40% and maintain or improve quality and feature differentiation, the lower the price the better.

      The problem with low prices is not that they are low, it is when they result in a low quality product or non-existent profits.

      If Apple can ever ship a $400, 40% margin, high quality MacBook, (with A-series tech or not) the rest of the computing industry will experience an extinction event.

  4. The fundamental implementation of the systemic issues regarding the all encompassing marketing aspect of what needs to be accomplished by the engineering department at the higher levels of technological design which will also allow for the manufacturing of the envisioned potential products which have been put only into the problematic testing arena by our company’s human interface and tactile facility team which has worked on the prototype only during the past months and even years…

    Uh, blah, blah, blah. Just make some good Mac Pros already.

  5. (o_0) Should Apple release an ARM-based Mac, developers wouldn’t need to re-submit their existing code nor would they need to add any ARM-specific code in order for their apps to run natively on ARM-based hardware. (0_o)


      1. I fine the loony face Asian smiley to be extremely useful and I use it regularly. You don’t have to know what it is to know what it means. What surprises me is that I don’t see it used much of elsewhere on the net. I don’t hang out at Asian chat forums, where I expect it is more common.

        I used to run an FTP server providing impossible-to-get music related to the ‘YMO Family’ of musicians and thereby I made friends with a number of Japanese and people who understood Japanese culture. Thereby, I learned and adopted Japanese smileys. They’re limited, but they make more sense than sideways smileys.

  6. Perhaps a miracle will happen on Thursday, like Apple announcing a hardware licensing agreement with IBM to manufacture business-class Macs, like a quad-core Mac mini.

  7. There is one thing that seems to be forgotten, and that is only a fraction of macOS applications are submitted to Apple for marketing through the Mac App store.

    Most developers would (potentially) have to struggle to deliver applications to an A10X based system; some more than others.

  8. Speculative reporting at best.

    If Apple chooses to follow Microsoft and offer a Surface, fine. It will undermine its strategy of the last several years of promoting an array of focused devices that rely on Apple to “hand off” and store your data. Who knows, maybe that’s the right thing.

    But comparing the A10 chip to a low-end mobile processor from Apple’s weakest Mac offering is pretty weak sauce. The performance gap between A chips and desktop class Intel chips is enormous. The I/O capability, memory access, core count, and GPU support from Intel CPUs is second to none, and vastly beyond what Apple is doing with its mobile chips.

    So if you want Apple to bog itself down undercutting its own iCloud, fine.

    If you want Apple to bog itself down taking chips designed for energy efficiency and attempting to get them to outperform chips designed from day one for computational power, good luck.

    If you want Apple to piss off developers who will invariably be impacted by any hybridization, fine, it’s Apple’s market to lose.

    If you want Apple to confuse consumers who are just fine making the choice between walled-garden mobile iOS and a full power Mac that can natively run pretty much any existing computer code they choose — well, that’s the end of the story. If Apple loses that link, then the Mac is dead.

    Finally: much has been claimed about price. What is not mentioned is the enormous missing capability and components required to bring a mobile RISC chip up to the full capability of a CISC chip. Huge costs to Apple, huge costs to developers, and yes, costs passed on to consumer too. It would be a sales bomb — not a good choice when Apple’s Mac lineup is universally seen as overpriced and underperforming.

    Apple’s best bet is to make Metal meaningful, make macOS more powerful and efficient, and make professional class machines that outperform the competition at any price class. That means new hardware across the board and a serious focus on making the software better. Aperture, FCP, Filemaker, and new titles need to get resurrected. Mail and Calendar need to be competent and easier to use. Things have to JUST WORK. Every device needs to be 802.11ac or ad capable (I’m looking at you, Airport Express). And Apple needs a full range of cool accessories, not just 3rd party cases and a shitload of adapters. 3 sizes of monitors would be a nice touch.

    If all Apple today rolls out is an incremental MacBook Pro with an oled strip, then it will have lost the battle with Microsoft’s surface.

    HP’s Spectre has already made the MacBook look like the overpriced netbook it is.

    and Dell’s XPS laptops give you more bang for the buck across the line, making Mac a tough sell for those millions of small businesses and personal users who still rely on Windows software to do what they need to do — because developers (including Apple itself) have been fleeing the Mac and iOS is amateur gametime at best. Apple can blame no one but itself for the sorry state of the Mac today. We shall see if Cook wakes up and does something about it. I wouldn’t be too optimistic.

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