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Rumor: Apple To Replace Intel Chips With ARM Processors On Laptops?

cwa107


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That would be very interesting. Certainly far-fetched at this point, but interesting nonetheless.

x86 is scaling down, while ARM is scaling up. Should be interesting to see how things work when they start crossing paths.
 

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Unless the ARM CPU's get a lot faster, to me it would not be a very wise move for Apple to do this unless maybe the Air as it's so think it's almost an iPad with a keyboard.
 
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Unless the ARM CPU's get a lot faster, to me it would not be a very wise move for Apple to do this unless maybe the Air as it's so think it's almost an iPad with a keyboard.

I would very much hate to see that happen. The Air is, simply put, the only really portable laptop that can be used as a main machine. Except for users who need high end graphics or frequent hardware updates, the Air is quite sufficient. That would not be the case at all with an ARM processor. Also, there would initially be hardly any applications.


Peter.
 
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All I can say is I hope not. They would have to do a heck of a lot to make an ARM processor worth it for me in a laptop like:

* Covering cost of all my software that I use to migrate from Intel to universal platform (to support both intel and ARM - I'm sure most software authors will probably consider that a major revision and charge for that update)

* Providing a CPU that is significantly faster then the processor in the Air (1.4 GHz is the slowest processor in the 11", I wouldn't be happy with a change unless it made sense, a processor slower or same speed doesn't make much sense to me with the other costs involved) or the same speed but more cores (from what I remember from reading way back, the A4 chip they use is actually based on a quad design)

I don't want to have to double buy everything. Plus, one of the biggest benefits of the intel chip is being able to run windows software when I need to (which does happen due to work for me at least) and loosing that would force me to not change my system (yes, I know microsoft has promised ARM support in a future version of windows, but that doesn't necessarily mean all of the other software I need to use will work right under an ARM architecture).

I think moving to ARM for anything other then the tablets and phones would be a scary move right now.

JMHO
 

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Just to clarify my position on any move to ARM. I put the Air as only a possible candidate. I am really 100% against any of Apples computers using anything other then Intel CPU's. I was even against the move to Intel from PPC till I really saw how much faster the Intel Macs were than the Power PC's.

Nethfel made some excellent points. Besides the mess it would make for software Compatibility, I really doubt the ARM will catch up in real speed and computing power to the Intel which keeps getting better with every update.

Only thing that scares me is what Apple has been doing lately and hope they do not make this move in the near future anyway.
 

cwa107


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Just to be clear, I don't think we'll see Apple do this anytime soon, but there is a trend here.

Basically, x86 started off life as a general purpose CPU. ARM started off as a mobile processor that was specialized. ARM was designed to run cool and power efficient. x86 paid little attention to those things (until more recently).

So now the two architectures are doing a dance. One is trying to get more thermal and power efficient, while maintaining processing power. The other is trying to get more powerful, while retaining thermal and power efficiency. At some point, one of the two will reach just the right balance - and at that point, they will win the mobile computing space.

It's just a question of who does it first - and it's not going to be anytime in the near term. But it will happen eventually. Microsoft has recognized that, hence the commitment to ARM for Windows 8. This news basically says the same of Apple.
 
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BBC TV has a weekly techie slot on Saturday mornngs - and they covered this very item in their News slot last week-end !
The situation was that Intel have not supplied the processors for the iPads and ARM of Cambridgeshire UK stepped in to the breach and impressed Apple so much it is conceivable that they may be used in future for the laptops/notebooks and even perhaps the iMacs ?
Despite Apple making a big thing of - '..how the new faster Intel i5 and 7 chips make the most of the architecture of the Apple OS X'...

Food for thought indeed ?
 

Raz0rEdge

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It is not possible to compare the GHz from a X86 processor to an ARM or PowerPC processor and say the one with the highest number is the faster processor..

ARMs currently power the iOS devices and with the A4/A5 do it quite well. I work with a ton of ARM processors at work and most of the devices I play with operate at around 500-600 Mhz and can really run circles around an X86 at the same Mhz..

The new ARM cores are now multi-core and operate at over 1 Ghz each..and that's very impressive..

Switching from Intel to ARM would affect a lot of things from peripherals and so on and would be quite a feat for Apple to pull off without greatly increasing their production/R&D costs..

Regards
 

cwa107


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It is not possible to compare the GHz from a X86 processor to an ARM or PowerPC processor and say the one with the highest number is the faster processor..

ARMs currently power the iOS devices and with the A4/A5 do it quite well. I work with a ton of ARM processors at work and most of the devices I play with operate at around 500-600 Mhz and can really run circles around an X86 at the same Mhz..

The new ARM cores are now multi-core and operate at over 1 Ghz each..and that's very impressive..

Switching from Intel to ARM would affect a lot of things from peripherals and so on and would be quite a feat for Apple to pull off without greatly increasing their production/R&D costs..

Regards

Agreed with all of the above, which is why I think the article's assertion that this is a "done deal" is complete bunk.

I can definitely see Apple investigating the possibility, especially since they do so much ARM development in-house and in light of their tendency toward verticle-integration, but it's not happening any time soon. I'd even go so far as to say that it won't happen in this decade.
 

Raz0rEdge

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Agreed with all of the above, which is why I think the article's assertion that this is a "done deal" is complete bunk.

I can definitely see Apple investigating the possibility, especially since they do so much ARM development in-house and in light of their tendency toward verticle-integration, but it's not happening any time soon. I'd even go so far as to say that it won't happen in this decade.

Agreed that Apple has the necessary ARM experience, but I've found that using ARM or PowerPC makes perfect sense on embedded devices where you can interfaces to devices in a more discrete manner with your own custom baseboard..

On the laptops, Apple would most likely want to use off-the-shelf (with some modifications of course) video cards and other peripherals, unless they want to create their own versions of all of these which is impractical..

Regards
 
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I don't see Apple switching architectures so soon after the switch from PPC, but given enough time, it may yet happen. Intel's x86 architecture is severely hobbled by the need for legacy support and while they have done a tremendous job in working around that, x86 really needs to just die already. Microsoft has said they will be porting Windows to run on ARM, so the writing is on the wall. I think it's more a matter of when, not if, Apple starts to migrate. Right now, I think hardware compatibility with Windows is too important to ignore considering how much it entices switchers.
 
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All I can say is I hope not. They would have to do a heck of a lot to make an ARM processor worth it for me in a laptop like:

* Covering cost of all my software that I use to migrate from Intel to universal platform (to support both intel and ARM - I'm sure most software authors will probably consider that a major revision and charge for that update)

They didn't do that for the PPC-Intel switch, yet somehow most of us managed to deal with it. If it does happen, you can stay behind on increasingly outdated hardware and software, switch platforms, or get with the times. That's how life rolls.
 
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They didn't do that for the PPC-Intel switch, yet somehow most of us managed to deal with it. If it does happen, you can stay behind on increasingly outdated hardware and software, switch platforms, or get with the times. That's how life rolls.

Getting with the times doesn't mean switching architectures every X years. The ARM architecture is a mobile/embedded device architecture. To me, trying to push that onto the laptop/iMac platform would be a move backwards rather then forwards, but that's my humble opinion. Does the ARM run circles around x86 in certain circumstances? Sure. Does it run iOS extremely well? Sure. Would it run full fledged OSX just as well as a C2D or an i5/i7? I have doubts.

PPC/Intel switch was years down the road from introduction, on top of that, there was good reason for a switch - how much development was happening with PPC? not much compared to other platforms. ARM is developing, and it's a great platform for certain things - I just don't think it'd be a good platform for laptops and iMacs. I think it would also cause an undo burden on users to have to replace their software at this time. Intel Macs have only been around for what? 6 years? That is a fairly short time to me to stay with a single platform.

JMHO
 
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Getting with the times doesn't mean switching architectures every X years. The ARM architecture is a mobile/embedded device architecture. To me, trying to push that onto the laptop/iMac platform would be a move backwards rather then forwards, but that's my humble opinion. Does the ARM run circles around x86 in certain circumstances? Sure. Does it run iOS extremely well? Sure. Would it run full fledged OSX just as well as a C2D or an i5/i7? I have doubts.

Well if it can't run full-fledged OS X as well on ARM as on x86, then of course Apple isn't going to jump in. They aren't stupid. But just because ARM is currently scaled and optimized as a mobile processor doesn't mean it can't be scaled and optimized for desktop use also. If it can be, then the lack of a desktop OS to use on it would be a limiting factor in why no one has bothered yet.
 
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All I can say is I hope not. They would have to do a heck of a lot to make an ARM processor worth it for me in a laptop like:

* Covering cost of all my software that I use to migrate from Intel to universal platform (to support both intel and ARM - I'm sure most software authors will probably consider that a major revision and charge for that update)

When Apple switched from PPC to Intel, they included an emulation layer called Rosetta that handled PPC apps on Intel Macs. There's no reason to believe Apple wouldn't do the same thing if a switch from Intel to ARM was made. So you wouldn't have to purchase all new software as your current software would work on the new platform. For a while there will be Universal software that works on both platforms, and a while later it will be all ARM based.

However, I think this would be a very bad move for Apple. The ability to run Windows on a Mac is very enticing to many switchers and Apple wouldn't risk dropping Intel unless it had a very compelling reason to do so (primarily, a substantial boost in performance with a significant decrease in heat and power consumption), like it did when switching away from PPC.
 
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I would like to repost this from the article:
...that capability could prove tempting to Jobs, who could then say that "Apple's notebooks have something no one else has."

When I think about this shift that might happen, I think past the problems that I see, and can actually envision a field of new computers...something that we haven't seen, or probably even thought about before. I believe they have a plan for something, but we have no idea what, and it surpasses just the basic switching of a processor vendor. Guess we have to play the waiting game...again.

As for the Windows thing, Microsoft said that the next version of Windows will support ARM, so I don't think that will be any problem, unless you want to use an old OS. Microsoft to support ARM on next Windows.
 

chscag

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I wonder about MS supporting ARM? Are we forgetting that when Windows NT first appeared, it was supported on the "Alpha" and first Power PCs. That didn't last long though.

Intel is a powerful force in the industry. They're not going to sit still while Apple and MS decide to go with or support ARM. Looking back, it was pressure from Intel that caused MS to drop Windows support on other platforms.
 

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