“The tremendous wealth that has been generated by the smartphone revolution, which Apple helped pioneer, has shifted the economic power away from the commodity processor makers. The computer systems integrators, starting with Apple, have realized that they don’t need the ‘Intels’ of this world, and that they’re better off going it alone,” Mark Hibben writes for Seeking Alpha. “What was first widely regarded as an aberration has become the norm, at least for mobile devices.”
“Apple wants, and has the resources, to control the design of all of the important semiconductors in its products,” Hibben writes. “Apple’s A11 Bionic, featured in the iPhone 8 and X, has become comparable in performance to the Intel processor in the 13” MacBook Pro, by the Geekbench benchmark… The A11 is almost certainly less expensive and lower power than the Core i5-7360U. Apple could offer a MacBook that was thinner, lighter and less expensive than the Intel version. This is the core of the case for an ARM MacBook.”
“But there are other arguments for an ARM MacBook as well. One of the best arguments is security,” Hibben writes. “Apple’s A series ARM processors are inherently more secure. They’ve been designed from the ground up to be much less vulnerable. Key to that is a specialized security processor embedded into the SOC, called Secure Enclave. Secure Enclave effectively prevents the kind of [EFI] exploits that Duo Labs describes.”
“The case against an ARM-based Mac is based mostly on business considerations, but there are some technical ones as well. It can be argued that Apple’s ARM processors still aren’t as capable as Intel, and that apps that rely on discrete GPU’s for acceleration or graphics performance would suffer in being ported to ARM,” Hibben writes. “Apple would run the risk of losing developer support if it enforced a wholesale conversion to ARM. If Apple allowed Intel and ARM Macs to coexist, the ARM Mac would be an ecosystem apart from the current Mac mainstream. Apple would be faced with maintaining two versions of macOS and its Mac devices. Consumers could be confused by the different platforms as well. And this is the crux of the case against the ARM Mac: that the situation just gets kind of messy.”
Much more in the full article – recommended – here.
MacDailyNews Take: We agree with Hibben that when Apple’s A-Series processors mature enough to be able to replace Intel in all Macs, not just MacBooks – years away, but closer than most might think – is when we’d be most likely to see Apple pull the trigger.
• I’ve always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do. — Steve Jobs, October 12, 2004
• In order to build the best products, you have to own the primary technologies. Steve felt that if Apple could do that — make great products and great tools for people — they in turn would do great things. He felt strongly that this would be his contribution to the world at large. We still very much believe that. That’s still the core of this company. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, March 18, 2015
Apple, a semiconductor superpower in the making, looks to build their own ARM-based processors for Macs – September 29, 2017
Apple accelerates mobile processor dominance with A11 Bionic; benchmarks faster than 13-inch MacBook Pro – September 15, 2017
Apple’s A11 Bionic chip in iPhone X and iPhone 8/Plus on par with 2017 MacBook Pro – September 14, 2017
Mossberg: There’s a good chance Apple will introduce ARM-based Macs – March 1, 2017