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Apple Considering Switch Away From Intel For Macs

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the you-and-what-ARMy dept.

Intel 530

concealment sends this quote from Bloomberg: "Apple Inc. is exploring ways to replace Intel processors in its Mac personal computers with a version of the chip technology it uses in the iPhone and iPad, according to people familiar with the company's research. Apple engineers have grown confident that the chip designs used for its mobile devices will one day be powerful enough to run its desktops and laptops, said three people with knowledge of the work, who asked to remain anonymous because the plans are confidential. Apple began using Intel chips for Macs in 2005."

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530 comments

gay (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899593)

gay

In 2017! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899595)

At the earliest... maybe. A lot can happen in five years.

Re:In 2017! (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899897)

At the earliest... maybe. A lot can happen in five years.

Wonder how their processor map is looking ...

Hey Apple, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899609)

How about No?

Re:Hey Apple, (4, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899985)

Seriously. Like we need another set of hardware stuck on some unsupported version of OS X.

Go Ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899611)

Because no one who bought an Intel Mac ever used any other operating system.

Re:Go Ahead (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899785)

Linux works fine on ARM.

Cryptographic lockout (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899825)

Linux works fine on ARM.

Not on a device whose bootloader cryptographically prevents you from installing it.

Re:Cryptographic lockout (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899909)

Don't buy those.

Just avoid anything with a locked bootloader.

Re:Cryptographic lockout (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900087)

That assumes that there are machines with unlocked bootloaders available. That may not always be the case. If Microsoft decides to apply the same terms to Windows on x86 that it is on ARM, that would pretty much destroy the market for general purpose computers. You'll probably be able to get one, but at a higher price, and you won't be able to run Windows on it.

That's the optimistic scenario. The pessimistic scenario is that once the general public doesn't need general purpose computers, they'll be classified as hacking tools and prohibited for anyone who isn't licensed. Sort of the way that lock pick tools are illegal for those without a locksmithing license.

Re:Go Ahead (1)

p0p0 (1841106) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899863)

Well they are assumingly moving over to ARM, which freely runs Linux and Windows now. The only problem I really see is them forcing you to buy an ARM version of certain Apps and an Intel version separately.

As long as everything transitions smoothly, the userbase will probably have no clue about the change over.

Re:Go Ahead (2)

sideslash (1865434) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900021)

In no reasonable sense of the words does ARM "freely run ... Windows". It's true that Microsoft is releasing Windows on ARM, but there isn't really a way for consumers/hobbyists/individual custom PC builders to install Windows on ARM. Maybe someday the wider hacker community will distribute heavily modified builds of Windows RT that can be run in various very specific ARM environments. But it would be a huge effort and Microsoft would try hard to prevent it.

In many ways, Apple moving to ARM would complete the circle of their locking out PC builders in general by soldering everything fast and discouraging upgrades. Full disclosure: I run a virtual Hackintosh in a PC I built myself, and strongly despise the trend of cookie cutter, disposable computers.

Downfall...3. 2. 1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899621)

First Apple's move to dressed up TomTom, now they want to chip their own hardware? Hubris! It will be their downfall.

Damn! That bitch really bit into that apple...HARD!

First post yay (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899625)

First post yay

Efficiency Performance (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899633)

Apple for a while now has been moving away from performance parts. No real beefy GPU in the Mac Pro. The best GPU in a MBP is an upper-mid tier card. Their server is gone. Its not surprising to see them move more and more away from HPC parts. I'm just a little curious how this will affect people dependent on 'pro-tools' (in the future that is).

Re:Efficiency Performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900027)

Kepler mobile graphics in the new iMac are nothing to laugh at...

64-way, on 1-die (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899635)

Using Mac power-level, vs iP* voltages.

Then you also get alternative/thin boot of iOS.

Doable. Quickly. See you in 2014.

Re:64-way, on 1-die (0)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899805)

If the rumors are already out there, it means the kernel has been compiled for ARM already.

Banning self-signed software (5, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899889)

Then you also get alternative/thin boot of iOS.

That or Apple will follow Microsoft's lead with Windows RT's lack of sideloading and use the transition to ARM ISA as a chance to remove the option to run software that's not signed with an Apple Developer ID. This means Apple would get to charge owners of ARM Macs $99 per year to rent the ability to run Xcode or any other compiler on their own hardware, just as Apple presently does with iOS.

Re:64-way, on 1-die (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899913)

64 A9 quad-core CPUs with 64 on-die GPUs would likely provide more computing power than any Intel x86 chip at lower power usage than frugal modern laptop CPUs (64x0.25W = 16W). Apple would just need to cut the cost and make software to drive it. They'll have longer life and more power than Intel.

Re:64-way, on 1-die (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900065)

Even that probably would not be enough to win if floating point performance was needed.

You would also be a huge disadvantage for anything that is difficult or plain impossible to to parralelize.

Re:64-way, on 1-die (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900141)

And then the MACH kernel could be abstracted on something that looks like a Type-1 hypervisor with NUMA for VMs.

It could get weird and cool. Like Plan9 in a box...

One Day? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899637)

So <insert company name here> is doing research that may or may not ever see the light of day to keep its options open and avoid single-source lock-ins. This is news?

Re:One Day? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899963)

avoid single-source lock-ins

Um, exactly the opposite. This is about eliminating everything that's not inside the walled garden.
The fanbois have been denying it for a while, but Apple is bothered that (unlike iOS) you can still install any software you want on OS X.

Re:One Day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900009)

So <insert company name here> is doing research that may or may not ever see the light of day to keep its options open and avoid single-source lock-ins. This is news?

Ah, but you forget! The insert-company-name-here is the almighty APPLE, hallowed be its name! This requires immediate rumor mongering and sales of iThingamabobs in the glory of The Apple!

Why? (5, Insightful)

thammoud (193905) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899643)

I can see the switch from PowerPC as IBM and Motorola could not keep up with supplies or advances. To switch from Intel to ARM on PC's will be suicide as performance in PC's far outweigh any negligible benefits in power savings. People using Macs are designers, programmers and heavy users. For those advocating unifying the mobile experience with the desktop, please STOP. I produce content on my desktop. I consume it on my iPad.

Re:Why? (5, Interesting)

TellarHK (159748) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899831)

For the tasks most people want a computer for (or think they want a computer for) an ARM-based solution could work just as well as an x86 based one. Keep in mind that even if Apple made the switch, they wouldn't be making it to the same silicon they're producing today, because they wouldn't need all of the power saving mechanisms that they've had to use for the mobile device markets they're in now. Instead, envision something along the lines of a hybrid machine with one high-end mobile core designed for lower-power usage, and then additional cores that can be brought online as needed with the associated power draw. There are dozens of ways this kind of arrangement could be managed, and people seem to be quick to forget that Apple made some of the big early strides when it came to getting multiprocessor development under control. (Grand Central, for example)

Additionally, who's to say that they won't have a 16+ core ARM chip running at 3GHz in the next couple years? If die size and power management are less of a premium, that's a lot of raw power that could be thrown at things.

I think they'll start with something like the MBA, and move up the line from there.

Re:Why? (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899949)

You can get 64 quad-core A9s for less power than a single Intel. 256 cores at over 1GHz will be much more processing power than the Intel solution. The laptops would have longer batter life and more power. Again, where's the down side?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900095)

More cores != more *usable* processing power. Not every task threads well.

Re:Why? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900097)

OS X applications are still single threaded, like 99% of all applications. You ever tried writing code for multi-core? Thought not.

The reality the typical Mac user does nothing more than FB, Twitter and iTunes. Most designers use Win machines for the front and and Linux render farms. Developers? What OS X developers!?

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900167)

OS X applications are still single threaded, like 99% of all applications. You ever tried writing code for multi-core?

It's pretty easy. I took our Molecular dynamics simulation and ported it to use Grand Central Dispatch. It's a think of beauty when it's using 1599% cpu running on my Mac Pro with dual quadcore xeons with hyper threading.

Re:Why? (1)

painandgreed (692585) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899951)

I can see the switch from PowerPC as IBM and Motorola could not keep up with supplies or advances. To switch from Intel to ARM on PC's will be suicide as performance in PC's far outweigh any negligible benefits in power savings. People using Macs are designers, programmers and heavy users. For those advocating unifying the mobile experience with the desktop, please STOP. I produce content on my desktop. I consume it on my iPad.

If this were to happen, I doubt if Macs would even change from Intel to ARM. If anything resembleing this was to happen, it will be because the Macs wither away and all that significantly left are the iOS ARM devices. Of course, that would leave Apple without a development platform, so what would need to happen before that would be some sort of ARM development platform and for Apple to give up gaming, development, and graphics on a Mac. If you start seeing docking iPads that people actually start developing and playing games on, then you might fear for your Mac and wonder if Apple will switch to ARM only.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899959)

To switch from Intel to ARM on PC's will be suicide as performance in PC's far outweigh any negligible benefits in power savings. People using Macs are designers, programmers and heavy users.

I've always purchased the slowest mac apple sells (whether desktop or laptop), and I am a programmer. Max out the RAM and it is plenty fast enough. My Xcode projects build/run in ~1 second even on my three year old "slow" mac.

Also, Apple has deeper pockets than intel and thousands of engineers working in their CPU design department, I think they can make a processor that is very fast. Certainly they can do a better job than AMD or Motorola.

Re:Why? (4, Interesting)

realmolo (574068) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899977)

Apple wants to dump MacOS.

There is FAR more money to be made from a locked-down OS like iOS that guarantees they get a cut of every app sold. The profits from iOS devices DWARF the profits from MacOS.

MacOS will be gone in ten years. Less, probably. You'll still be able to buy a Mac, but it will run iOS, and only run "approved" apps. Unless you pay a couple thousand bucks for their "developer" license, in which case you will get a copy of XCode. And a yearly fee on top of that, of course. And probably a limit on the number of apps you can develop before you have to pay more money.

Apple is NOT about making cool technology anymore. They are about selling content. They're a media company.

Re:Why? (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900017)

Apple would be dumb to not have OS/X running on ARM. Just as Microsoft now as Windows running on ARM. The X86 did beat everyone by being the fastest cpu you could buy. It was the good enough CPU. As the X86 got better and better it came up replacing first minicomputers and then even pushing into the mainframe and super computer space. ARM is also moving up the same way and it too will someday may be good enough. Today it really is good enough for most of what people are buying Celerons, Pentiums, and i3s for. Just how many people are using X86 to surf the web, run quicken, and maybe Office? An ARM cpu could do all of that today.
AMD says it will produce ARM Opterons. I would love to see that so I could go to Newegg and buy an ARM cpu and put it into an off the shelf motherboard for say a NAS or even a desktop PC running Linux.

Re:Why? (5, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900161)

Note the "will one day be powerful enough". I read that as "in 2-5 years we may have something that can compete with laptop or desktop-grade Intel products". From what I understand, and IANACE (I am not a Computer Engineer), there's nothing inherently holding the ARM architecture back from being able to scale up to the sorts of computational performance we see out of Intel's processors, albeit, at the cost of its energy efficiency (of course, it's not there now, but it could be in a few years). Similarly, an Intel exec said a few weeks back that there's nothing technological holding Intel back from being able to scale down to where we see ARM's processors.

That said, Intel doesn't want to do that, since the profit margins are much lower for mobile processors than they are for desktop-grade processors. Yet the danger for them is that the ARM architecture will be scaled up, allowing it to expand into the much more lucrative end of the market, thus pushing them out. That'd be the end for Intel if that sort of thing was allowed to happen. And Apple is in a good position to try something like that.

More importantly and more relevantly to these rumors, I read this whole report as leverage in negotiations with Intel. Credibly scaring the seller into thinking they'll lose your business is a great way to get better prices or other concessions (e.g. early or exclusive access) out of them. Apple is probably content to stay with Intel for as long as Intel is supplying chips that meet Apple's expectations and can do so at reasonable prices. But Apple also wants to hedge its bets in case Intel folds at some point or they're not keeping up with the pace of development that Apple would like to see. Having the ability to run OS X on ARM may very well just be a safety measure in that vein.

Re:Why? (1)

RobbieCrash (834439) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900203)

No, people that are using Macs are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and MS Office users. Gone are the days where the typical Mac user was a power user, why do you think the Pro line has been all but forgotten?

Pretty sleazy of Apple employees... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899655)

To be blabbing about so-called "confidential" work @ Apple.

I'm no Apple fan at all but that's just rude to disclose competitive secrets like that.

Re:Pretty sleazy of Apple employees... (2)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899873)

To be blabbing about so-called "confidential" work @ Apple.

I'm no Apple fan at all but that's just rude to disclose competitive secrets like that.

I can't decide if it's better or worse than leaving a prototype (iPhone) at a bar. Unless it's an intentional "leak". Then it's probably no different.

A more likely scenario: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899657)

My guess is it's just to fuck with people. After all, if you move to a new architecture, all your old OSX programs will be useless, and you'll have to buy everything all over again! Forget just buying a new computer every year, they want you to buy a new EVERYTHING every year.

Re:A more likely scenario: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899717)

No. Apple has been awesome about apps being moveable, and making it simple for developers.

Just reinstall from the store as usual. No big deal.

Categories that Apple bans from the Store (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899843)

Unless it's an application in one of the categories for which Apple makes no provision in the Mac App Store, such as system administration utilities or tools that process all files in a folder tree.

Re:A more likely scenario: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899883)

Um, no. Apple has a very good track record regarding backwards compatibility regarding hardware architecture changes. Things just "worked" when they changed to PPC (mixed mode manager) and then to Intel (Rosetta).

Apple acquired PA Semiconductor (RISC based CPUs) several years ago and have probably been working on "possibilities" for years (especially for their laptops).

Re:A more likely scenario: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899953)

Yeah, like how they had no provisions for the switch from PowerPC to Intel... right?

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899671)

So has Linux and Microsoft. The fact that Apple too would do so for their Mac line on top of their iOS line now that it has proven itself out for the past 5 years should not be news for anyone.

As a former hardware-circuit-design engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899673)

I'm pretty happy to see the move towards vertical integration inside all these 'software-esque' companies: Apple, Google, Microsoft. Heck, even Facebook is hardware-ing it up.

I'm tired of hardware engineers who are consistently undervalued, and consistently paid MUCH less than software engineers. A software MASTERS earns more than a hardware (EE) PHD. Wtf ?
 

Now that people are trained not to "compute"... (5, Interesting)

TellarHK (159748) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899683)

... It certainly isn't impossible. People already look at iPads and iPhones as "devices" and not what they really are underneath all that glass and aluminum. Just smaller, simpler "computers". I'd say it's a safe bet that 99% of the Slashdot readership at one point had a computer that looks positively ancient compared to last year's iPhone models, but most people simply don't understand the magnitude of what's been accomplished in technology over the last 30 years.

Now that people look at iDevices and their non-Apple kin as devices, it just takes some time to convince them that the idea of a "computer" really isn't what they ever wanted. They've always wanted devices, and with OSX and now Windows drawing more and more from the closed ecosystem models they spawned off for the mobile realm, people will eventually come around.

I give it around two years before Apple comes out with a new line of ARM-based Macbook Airs, though that could change depending on how effectively Intel and AMD (really, just Intel) stave off the situation by getting lower powered x86 options into the marketplace.

Only Apple (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899693)

Only Apple gets away with completely changing their computing platforms and getting everyone to follow along and pretend it's no big deal. I remember having a Mac guy go on and on for hours about how the x86 couldn't do the things a PPC could do. Then, the x86 Macs come out and suddenly all those "deficiencies" are no big deal. Anyway, what an insane platform.

Re:Only Apple (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899857)

As critical as I am of Apple on occasion, I see this as a smart idea. Staying limber by making sure your kernel and toolset can compile on multiple platforms only makes sense. It's a wonder that, four decades after Unix lead the path to portability, now commercial outfits like Apple and Microsoft are seeing the value as well (well, to be fair, MS saw the value back in the early 1990s but guys like DEC and MIPS priced their stuff into the stratosphere thus guaranteeing x86's continued dominance).

Re:Only Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900145)

But there's a difference between making sure your kernel and toolset can compile on multiple platforms and inventing a new platform just so you can say your toolset/kernel can compile on multiple platforms.

Re:Only Apple (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900019)

Yeah, it's a lot like when most Android users hated the iPhone with a glass back and a non-replaceable battery and non-extendable storage, and now suddenly it's no big deal at all when the LG Nexus 4 has all those problems.

Only Apple.

Re:Only Apple (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900093)

Actually I have a GN and I hate that the N4 has a glass back. The rest I could care less about, but glass is a crap material for the shell of a phone.

Re:Only Apple (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900221)

I remember having a Mac guy go on and on for hours about how the x86 couldn't do the things a PPC could do. Then, the x86 Macs come out and suddenly all those "deficiencies" are no big deal.

...because of course, it's not like x86 technology improved during the ~10 year period that Macs were on PowerPC. Intel would never spend money improving their products.

Dear Apple (4, Insightful)

Jailbrekr (73837) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899699)

The only reason why I have a Mac Mini is because you are running a modified version of UNIX. This pleases me. But be forewarned: If your future plans include replacing BSD UNIX with your shitass iOS, I am so fucking gone. Your shitty phones are already on my do not buy list, and I have no qualms with dumping your PCs.

Re:Dear Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899823)

The platform is independent of the chip architecture. If you bought a PowerPC Mac Mini, it was running the same OSX. There's no reason they couldn't recompile OSX for another chip architecture later.

Re:Dear Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899871)

iOS is a modified version of UNIX too...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IOS

Re:Dear Apple (5, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899881)

The only reason why I have a Mac Mini is because you are running a modified version of UNIX. This pleases me. But be forewarned: If your future plans include replacing BSD UNIX with your shitass iOS...

From the Wikipedia article on iOS [wikipedia.org] : "iOS is derived from OS X, with which it shares the Darwin foundation, and is therefore a Unix operating system." So a change from Mac OS X to iOS would not shake the UNIX-ness of the operating system. What you seem to fear is the system being locked down, but that could be done with Mac OS X as it is, if Apple so wished.

Re:Dear Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899885)

Said the member of a market that comprises 1% of their use base. They give ZERO fucks about people who understand technology. They are selling devices to consumers, period. Get that through your head.

Re:Dear Apple (1)

JWW (79176) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899915)

Unix can run on ARM. Who's to say they won't run OS X on a very multi-core ARM laptop?

Re:Dear Apple (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900003)

I thought the marketing speak was that iOS was OSX-based, so that iOS and Android are both Unix/Linux variants.

Bloomberg trolling (1)

gtall (79522) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899709)

Apple would be stupid not to explore alternatives that may only become viable years down the road. Every tech company does it. Bloomberg is just trolling.

Re:Bloomberg trolling (2)

painandgreed (692585) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899869)

Apple would be stupid not to explore alternatives that may only become viable years down the road. Every tech company does it. Bloomberg is just trolling.

What! How can you say Bloomberg is trolling? Didn't you read the article? It's printed right there that "some engineers say" this might happen! How can you doubt the sureness of such a quote and the technical expertise of any engineer?

ARM up your ass (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899731)

Apples user will be sent to Auschwitz

Barrack Hussein Romney

I'm torn (1)

neverwhere9 (2597405) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899737)

There's not really enough information yet to tell if this is a good idea, at least to me. It would be nice if it happened, since you're paying ~$1000 basically for an operating system, since the hardware is more or less what you'd find in a good PC. But how will this effect performance?

JavaScript overhead (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899971)

But how will this effect performance?

Microsoft requires all software that runs on its ARM platforms (Windows Phone 7 and Windows RT) to come from the official store, enforcing this with cryptographic locks. Apple already does the same on its ARM-powered smartphones and tablets. In the worst case, Apple could try doing the same thing on ARM-powered Macs. So to answer your question, software obtained outside the store would have to be written in JavaScript and run in a web browser. Now consider how would running inside a web browser would affect an application's performance.

Yeah. Confidential. Right. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899743)

This is yet another negotiation tactic by Apple. If this info was reall confidential then Apple wouldn't had no less than three employees spreading around the rumor of how the company is considering dumping Intel processors in favour of flimsy, cell phone processors to do real world desktop processing. But Apple does have at least three different employees announcing that, and certainly an army of shills here on slashdot to reiterate how awesome Apple processors are. But in the end they won't go anywhere.

Re:Yeah. Confidential. Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900199)

This is yet another negotiation tactic by Apple.

Intel wouldn't really notice if Apple stopped buying CPUs from them. Apple hold around 12% marketshare in PC sales and have no server footprint.

There are always warning signs that a company (0)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899745)

is about to go off the cliff. The first clue is when the CEO is asleep at the wheel, and the car starts wandering aimlessly.
This is one of those times.

I bet they'll still get their asses kicked. (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899747)

...said three people with knowledge of the work...

Cue witch hunt in Apple HQ in 3... 2... 1

Hah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899753)

4-8 A6 CPU to motherboard for desktop and you get serious calculation power.

What a handy leak... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899793)

If you're about to negotiate some new contracts with Intel.

Crap. (1)

Infernal Device (865066) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899827)

And I just recently got all my software updated to Intel, too.

I think they're doing in concert with the software manufacturers so they gouge us for replacement software to run on the new processors.

Maybe in five-ten years (2)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899829)

Right now, Apple's ARM stuff isn't powerful enough for anything above the Air, and even that's a stretch. Sure, long-term they might want to push for it, but it will be a long, long time before they even replace their laptop chips with their own design, let alone their desktops (unless they ditch their desktops completely, which isn't beyond possibility).

However, they'd lose market share doing so. The PPC->Intel transition was fueled by PowerPC being increasingly slow and power-hungry, while Intel was getting their shit together with Core. It was difficult for consumers to survive through the switch, but it was tolerable because you were getting a more powerful system, and the emulation capability was good.

Now, though, Intel is working just fine. And between ARM being less powerful, and x86 being painful to emulate, you'll have an even rougher transition. The only reason for Apple to switch away is for pure profit - they don't want to be giving Intel money. While some customers might go along with The Great Apple, most won't. It'll be especially bad for Apple, as they brand themselves as "the best, regardless of cost" - switching to weaker processors to save money goes completely against that.

Re:Maybe in five-ten years (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899955)

The air has an i5, what ARM chip competes with that?

Re:Maybe in five-ten years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900147)

Cortex A57!!!

Re:Maybe in five-ten years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900039)

Let's just be clear, it's not powerful enough for the Air. The Air is a Core i5 with i7 as an option. None of the current ARM chips are even in the same ballpark in terms of performance.

Having switched twice already.... (3, Insightful)

SirDrinksAlot (226001) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899921)

I'm totally not going to do it again.
68k to PPC was a disaster, applications that didn't need to be just PPC were just PPC. Everyone who had a recent 68k at the time was boned very quickly. If it wasn't for CodeWarrior (I loved the sh*t out of that back in the day) that transition would have been even more disastrous.
PPC to x86 Apple just turned around and spit in everyone's [existing ppc userbase] face. They promised more updates that they never delivered and the patches they pushed out just made the platform slower and slower. My PowerBook would run like greased lightning with a clean OS install, HD videos and the works. Let MacOS update it self and it suddenly grew 10 years older with a few patches. I did try formatting it and starting from scratch but it ended up with the exact same behavior.

I'm not going through another architecture migration because Apple just doesn't care about their existing user base, they already have their money.

My current iMac x86 doesn't have firmware to reinstall the OS, so after the HDD failed I found I was totally screwed. The Apple store I visited told me I would have to purchase apple care to reinstall MacOS since it's now physical media free (I already had a new drive in it). After this attempt to bend me over, I'm not taking another slap to the face.

Re:Having switched twice already.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900201)

You have to admit that the transition from PowerPC to Intel was much smoother. I believe a lot had to do with a much more robust Mac OS under the hood. The 68k to PPC transition was quite a debacle due to the spaghetti code that was Mac OS 8 at the time.

The Mac under Amelio really suffered too. Remember Copeland 8? There were also business-grade Macs shipping with entry level 68k chips (Quadra 605, anyone?) missing FPUs and small caches. With the exception of a few high end Macs with 50Mhz full 68040 processors, most were not powerful enough to even play back an MP3. At the time, the Amiga was transitioning to 68060 processors and Apple was left with a decision to stick with 68k or move to PowerPC.

I can't see Apple royally screwing this one up...but at this time, I can't see ARM processors capable of decently handling any level of emulation of an Intel processor.

Very bad news for high-performance software. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899927)

Ableton Live for instance, won't like this. Similarly for many other audio packages.

I guess it will force the die-hard Ableton users to spend 3 days configuring windows to make it usable for low-latency audio without dropouts. That's what I currently do, if I can't get an Apple. Apple is certainly the easier solution though.

Maybe porting would be easy, but I seriously doubt it for this kind of high-performance sophisticated software.

You'd think they'd have learned their lesson. (2)

davolfman (1245316) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899941)

Not to knock ARM, but A: I don't know that they have a design for a desktop processor yet (most of their designs seem to be in the Atom/Bobcat realm tops) B: With the absolutely massive amounts of money Intel put's into their Tick-Tock development cadence they have both pretty much the most optimized desktop/laptop architecture their is, and probably the most significant process advantage in the history of semiconductors. Honestly given the way both Intel and AMD have been able to use out-of-order execution and pipelining to achieve multiple Instructions Per Clock and multi-gigahertz clocks on a CISC-backed-by-microcode architecture I'm not convinced RISC actually has an advantage in practice. In addition Apple is stuck with the foundries, the same as pretty much anybody but IBM, and so pretty much CAN'T begin to produce a chip that will compete with Intel's best when comes to raw performance or performance-per-watt. For those reasons this would be pretty foolish any time in the next several years. Even if a decade from now they can work past it they will still be stuck fighting off the suspicion that they don't have the advantage they claim to, the one that more or less was true at the end of their use of PowerPC chips.

Looking into is different than doing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899943)

Im glad their investigating it. I don't think they will.. but why not look into it?
Remember Apple had OSx running on intel since the beginning (4 + years) before they actually released it.

They have more money than they can spend, why not investigate the possibility?

I'll bet Apple is exploring all kinds of stuff (5, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899967)

According to Ars Technica, Apple's R&D budget is 3.4 BILLION dollars [arstechnica.com] (3.4x10^9). That's enough money to "explore" all kinds of crazy stuff. Just because they're spending money looking into something, doesn't make it part of their business plan.

big.LITTLE (1)

Bloody Bastard (562228) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899987)

Have you heard about ARM's big.LITTLE new heterogeneous, multicore chips? Still to come to market, but might be a good choice.

ARM slower than 2005 PowerPC. (3, Insightful)

guidryp (702488) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899989)

ARM chips are still slower than the PowerPC chips Apple moved away from in 2005.

This is rumor is pure BS.

2013 is bringing out an all new OOO execution Intel Atom core on 22nm process. Intel might start dominating Android phones leading to next years rumor that Apple will be moving iOS to Intel.

I don't see either move as likely in the foreseeable future. Beyond that is pure 100% BS.

My first 32 bit desktop machine was ARM powered. (1)

Goth Biker Babe (311502) | about a year and a half ago | (#41899993)

I had an Acorn A3000 from 1989 and then upgraded to an Acorn RISC PC in 1994 which at the time was faster than equivalent PC technology. I put together one of the first distributions of ARM Linux for that machine a few years later. Admittedly Intel has caught up and over taken ARM on the desktop and in the laptop but with the introduction of the 64 bit ARM 12s, the power per watt, and the size of the processors, there's no reason why they shouldn't be comparable.

Re:My first 32 bit desktop machine was ARM powered (1)

Goth Biker Babe (311502) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900035)

And as a postscript.

Acorn actually took Apple to task when they advertised "the worlds first RISC desktop machine" since the Acorn A310 came out before the Apple PowerPC machines. Apple had to retract the advertisement.

Well played... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41899995)

This might make more sense if you realize that ARM doesn't actually build chips... it just designs them. Like has happened a million times before... ARM.. the up and comer smaller time player has been getting bigger and better and will soon be in a position to challenge the (overly comfortable) market leader on their home turf if given the right opportunity.. and Apple could give them that. They could also acquire ARM if this works out and further push the tight integration of their platform.

or maybe not (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900057)

Keep in mind that Apple "considers" a lot of things that it doesn't ultimately do. A quick look through their patent portfolio will show you all sorts of technology that they've developed, but which has never made its way into a product. The OSX86 project would've remained a footnote in Apple history if the PowerPC architecture had worked out better. See also: Pink, Copland.

Why not x86 and ARM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41900069)

I would love to see future MacBooks that are equipped with both x86 and ARM processors. It would of course be difficult to engineer but imagine being able to run OS X apps and iOS apps side by side on a future touch screen MacBook air. People keep chastising Apple for not being revolutionary anymore and it seems to me that unification of the iOS and OS X lines in a way that doesn't compromise the desktop OS X would do it.

Yepp. I get that. (1)

Qbertino (265505) | about a year and a half ago | (#41900103)

Todays portable lightweight low-power CPUs are yesterdays Workstation CPUs with 4 times the power. Apple has been trading off processing power for energy efficiency, design and small enclosures for quite some time now. It's one of the main reasons for their success. F.E.: I'm typing this on a 5 year old x86 mac mini, for which I have yet to find a competing non-apple product that matches it.

Yer Olde Desktop Setups are quickly going the way of the dodo. Fanless thin clients are as powerfull as a full-blown decked-out workstation in 2004, internal storage on HDDs is just plain silly once you've used an SSD device and you get highpower 4+1 multicore cpus in 199$ tablets with a batterytime of 8+ hours these days.
It sure wont be long before apple pushed out iMacs as thin as a slim screen, with 8+ cores for processing power. It could very well be that their ARM variant is the way to go for them.

However, Intel isn't exactly lagging behind in the low-energy CPU game either, and you can allready get viable Atom desktops [lenovo.com] . It might very well be that come the time Intel is up for the task of lowering their energy requirements for their CPUs and Apple stays with Intel.

There is interesting things to come, and I wouldn't be surprised if Apple would lead the innovation here once again.

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