Apple could transition to ARM chips in Macs, but probably won’t

“With every release of a new iPhone powered by another cutting-edge processor designed by Apple, the rumbling grows. It’s amplified by the perception that the Mac is being delayed and hamstrung by the moves of the Mac’s chip supplier, Intel,” Jason Snell writes for Macworld. “It’s the theory that, one of these days, Apple is going to break from Intel and power its Macs with an Apple-designed processor related to the ones in the iPhone and iPad.”

“And it’s true, the Mac is no stranger to a processor transition,” Snell writes. “It’s happened three times in the 32-year life of the Mac, so roughly once a decade.”

“Having proven itself a capable chip designer with the A series, Apple could very well dump Intel and strike out on its own. But I don’t think Apple will,” Snell writes. “There are lots of arguments against Apple making ARM-based Macs. None of them are deal-breakers, but they all accumulate to suggest that making a break from Intel chips would be a painful transition.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Too much work for a platform Apple sees as a low volume “truck” compared to iOS devices? We shall see. What’s the sense of having $200+ billion if you’re not going to push the envelope? In fact, forget the cash pile: What’s the sense of being Apple if you’re not going to push the envelope?

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

Thanksgiving weekend starts now! Interns: TTK!!!

If you’re celebrating the holiday tomorrow, Happy Thanksgiving!

SEE ALSO:
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

43 Comments

  1. Arm chips would make sense in a I/Mac OS hybrid Pad/Laptop that MDN has been suggesting. The drawback being speed comparison issues, such as those encountered with Motorola and IBM being compared to Intel in the Power Mac days.Deja vu all over again. 🖖😀⌚️

    1. I don’t think speed would be a problem. They would have a much bigger power envelope for laptops vs phones, so could increase both cores and clock speeds substantially using the same basic designs they have now.

      Apple already does this to a lesser degree with iPad processors vs. iPhones.

      But it seems doubtful they would make the effort at a time when Macs are only updated substantially every 2-3 years. Still waiting for a viable Mac Pro for my work.

      1. I was referring to the old architecture v clock speed arguments. Motorola chips ran at a slower clock speed but executed more instructions per cycle. Intel chips had greater raw clock speed. The chips used in  Macs at the time were perceived by many as being slower than those used in PCs. The old  and 🍊 comparison issues. 🖖😀⌚️

  2. What ever Apple do in the next years with the Mac they should put their heart and soul on it. A new Mac should be able to integrate more technology and concepts in less user steps and make it look easier and logical so the user spend less time learning and fighting with the system and he has more time creating and working.

    All this is about integration and efficiency not about improving a few features and introducing newer ones that won’t create enough synergy. Its about the whole user experience.

    Then, the hardware will fit.

    1. I’m planning to upgrade my laptop next year. whatever complany provides better choice with touchscreen/amount of ram/cpu power/ssd space — will get my money for the product

  3. Apple will either transition to arm, or let it die and transition iOS to take over high end performance.

    It makes no sense to depend.on Intel. Intel has basically said there is no money in these types.of chips for them and are focusing on more profitable chips. Apple would be foolish to keep sticking with a company who keeps letting them down and stay with them until the music stops without a chair left.

    1. My reasoning entirely it would make a lot of sense to do that if it means reducing the price and size/weight of an Air device. Meanwhile the concept can be tested and developed accordingly in the real world without having yo immediately out perform its big brothers. My only doubt over that likelihood mind regards the conservative instincts of Cook allowing him to support such an overt move. As such I guess it will be more about iPads becoming gradually more Air Notebook like at one end rather than a sudden bold move to such an idea immediately.

      1. Let’s try to be real.

        The entire electronics industry has been pursuing miniaturisation as far back as the 1960s. Moore’s law is merely an offshoot of that manufacturing reality. Jony Ive may seem like a simpering dilettante of a recherché abstract design movement but he is in fact leading the charge.

        The future is decidedly not going to look like the present, any more than today looks like 1974. Somebody has to get us there, and it is not going to happen by standing by, playing favourites, and making safe bets.

        It can only happen by someone making decisions that contravene conventional thinking — throwing out what’s established, and substituting something new and supposedly better.

        But never fear, there does exist an Authority to regulate such extravagant experiments—the Market. You & I as individuals are subservient to this authority and have little redress beyond appeals to brand loyalty. Apple have ignored those appeals for ten years. They just aren’t listening to us any more, and more’s the pity.

        1. I am real. 😊

          Your history of chip production is interesting and correct and fingers crossed it can only get better. My comment was tongue in cheek aided by the wink emoji.

          “Apple have ignored those appeals for ten years. They just aren’t listening to us any more, and more’s the pity.”

          It is inexcusable!

          Since the early 1980s (dating myself) I have been purchasing high end Apple Pro products for my creative profession.

          I have not bought a Pro machine since the cheese grater tower. Looking at the trash can mini-tower I don’t know if I could put it into words how disappointed I am at year’s long Apple neglect of the Pro market.

          I can upgrade my cheese grater, many years old, for a lot less money and blow out the cute black design trash can that costs considerably more.

          Why would I throw away big bucks to have an industrial design award contender sitting on my desk, cables and drives all over like high-tech spaghetti. Only to have tech gurus pass by and say, looks cool, but slow and expensive and forget about upgrading innards.

          And oh, be careful, don’t trip over the cables … sad. ☹️

          1. My home office layout is elegant, with sleek peripherals gathered around the MP cylinder, all of them discreetly parked on the desk top behind two displays, and no trip hazards in evidence. Nothing on the floor at all except a Navajo rug and Kitters playing with a ball of yarn.

            But I gather that my peculiar design aesthetic, an ergonomic garden of delights, would not work for you, and I would not dream of arguing against your position.

            So far, loyalty arguments have not penetrated Tim Cook’s conscience at all, but the heat should be kept up until his resistance buckles. And it will, because the looming exodus of professionals seeking high-performance machines threatens Apple’s developer hegemony.

            Having been a long-time attendee of MacWorld Expo, I sense a deep affinity between Apple’s design and engineering teams and developers far and wide. That synergy continues to define the evolution of Apple, and will eventually force the production of miracle machines, or at least the incremental upgrades pro users have begged for, if only to shepherd and keep developers, as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer famously asserted.

            The question seems to me to be one of faith. Myself, I have always been multi-tribal. I have faith in Apple to do the right thing. But who defines “right?” Different tribes have different answers, and I always walked away from the family dinner table arguments about the matter, and went off to play with my dolls.

            1. I don’t know. Your description of an elegant minimalist desktop, minus triptraps, and exquisite furnishings that blend new tech and eclectic artsy historical rugs, hmm … I could probably go for that. 😊

              The last MacWorld Expo I attended was at the Javits Center in Mahattan for the debut of Jaugar. The rest I watched live online until the demise.

              I’m simply a power user that flys a stealth fighter without having to work under the hood.

              Yes indeed, keep up the resistance for what it is worth … 🐴

              Yes ind

            2. I do respect that. Fighter jockeys deliver the tip of the spear. Developers are like the grease monkeys, the mechanics who keep your bird flying. Both are noble professions. Apple is like Boeing or Airbus. (Funny, they also have excruciatingly long development schedules. I wonder if aviation websites are also full of whinging…never mind. 🙄 )

            3. I don’t normally do this …

              But I appreciate the beauty and intelligence in your wordsmith skills.

              More than that, your immediate comprehension of the conversation and creative turn of a phrase responses is nothing short of remarkable.

              You remind me of a favorite famous female writer (C.P.). 🤗

            4. When we exchange views, I feel appreciated. That’s something precious, a morsel of kindness to be scraped up from the wreckage of the battlefield and tucked in one’s pocket for later perusal, during a break in the endless internecine hostilities. Who is C.P.?

            5. I don’t know about that. Do know C.P.’s evolution over decades has been interesting to witness. One of her latest revelations and searing insights was she did not plan to “vote with her vagina.” Certainly, a talented and gifted writer … 😊

  4. I believe supporting two types of processors would be a big mistake, just like being obsessed with product thinness is eroding value from the current product line up. The product line needs to be simplified, not complicated by yet more models with different processor types. It really has to be one or another otherwise we’re back to the dark 1990’s of too many products and consumer confusion, which lead to falling sales.
    With that said, my view is Apple should stick to two models of each product – consumer and pro. Nice and simple.

  5. The problem is could you do real work on an ARM Mac? That’s what M$ will say.
    Reality is that most people surf the web, shop, read email, twitter, facetime etc.
    So a lightweight Mac that does iOS and macOS would fit that niche really well and allow Apple to price lower.

  6. Just FYI, Apple doesn’t care about macs anymore. Sure, they pay lip service, but actions speak louder than words.

    I don’t hear actions, nor do I hear words.

    Cook wants to get rid of macs and his aim is push the Mac user away to PCs, then he can focus solely on the iPhone. Now, that’s an action we see him do clearly.

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