Transitions: Intel to ARM (Apple chips)

Discussion in 'AppleTalk' started by King, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. King

    King Active Member

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    The Mac in its history has had 3 major transitions so far.

    The 1st one was 68K to PowerPC. That transition happened from 1994-1996.

    The 2nd major transition though was even bigger. That was the transition from OS9 to OS X from 2001-2003.

    At WWDC 2005 Steve Jobs announced the 3rd transition, from PowerPC to Intel. This last transition lasted from January-December 2006.

    Why did they do this? Because Apple wants to make the best computers going forward.

    Since the 2017 iPhones has been announced there has been an increase of rumors of a 4th transition for the Mac from Intel to Apple's ARM chips

    Looking at how Apple has been releasing their Macs before as compared to today they have been releasing them whenever there is a new AMD or NVidia GPU chip released rather than when Intel releases a new CPU. This was in contrast to 10 years ago whenever Intel has a release Apple will ship days later.

    To me this shows that CPU technology is not as advanced as those of GPUs or GPUs has become more important in Macs.

    Another point of migration would be performance per watt. Apple's A11 Bionic chip found in 2017 iPhone 8 and X are now more powerful than the Intel chips found in a 2017 MacBook Pro.

    As you notice in the chart below even the chips used by Android makers are inching closer to Intel's.

    [​IMG]


    Looking over the fence we see Microsoft is now supporting two hardware platforms for Windows 10 namely Intel chips and Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chips that powers almost all Android flagship phones .

    Here's a preview from December 2016.



    A demo from Qualcomm from June 2017



    Another preview from IFA 2017 back in August 2017.



    I guess I will be buying a new Mac after Apple moves to their own chips.

    If I was Intel I'd improve my performance per watt figures at a better price or diversify before they end up being discarded by both Apple and Microsoft like Apple's former GPU chip supplier Imagination.

    A bit off topic but the chart below shows the performance gap between 2017 smartphone chips from Apple, Samsung and Qualcomm included also is the 2016 chip from Apple. Source

    [​IMG]
     
    #1 King, Sep 30, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
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  2. Salaryman Ryan

    Salaryman Ryan PhilMUG Addict Member

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    Man I miss the era when desktop chips would leapfrog each other every single release. Now Intel is stagnant in the desktop chip side. I guess everyone in the industry is focusing on the development of smartphones - the place where true innovation is currently moving at full speed. It would be interesting to see a Mac running on a A series chip, especially portables and what effect it could have on its battery life.

    Although I think if such a transition will happen it will not be in the near future because of the huge effort it may involve software and hardware wise.
     
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  3. King

    King Active Member

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  4. greta87

    greta87 PhilMUG Addict Member

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    #4 greta87, Apr 3, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  5. ice

    ice PhilMUG Addict Member

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    if macOS will run ARM... goodbye hackintosh, not sure if macOS apps will support ARM and if they will require us to re-purchase them.

    Also not sure if Windows will support the new processor (boot camp)

    Perfect scenario will be macOS on ARM + iOS App Store (just like the Chrome OS with Android's Play Store)
     
  6. Salaryman Ryan

    Salaryman Ryan PhilMUG Addict Member

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    Although chips like the A11 can surpass the power of the lower end Macbooks I have yet to see an ARM chip that can match the power of the higher end intel chips like the quad core iMacs and 8 core Xeons in the iMac pro. Also going all ARM chips seems counter to Apple's promise of renewed commitment to Apple's professional customers who need the power of Intel's most powerful chips. However this could change in the future as ARM chips is progressing much faster then x86 but they are not there yet - at least for now.

    I think it's more likely for near future Macs to have an ARM chips to run certain tasks to make it more efficient. A sort of co-processor, just like what they are doing with the touch bar Macbook Pros.
     
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  7. bacchus_3

    bacchus_3 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe that's what Apple is working on. The professional level ARM processors just like when they revealed the first A4. Maybe they're preparing for that major step and just needs to iron out the technology for their pro-level ARM chips to use for Mac Pros and iMacs.
     
  8. King

    King Active Member

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    Smartphone chips like those found in Apple's iPhone tend to run at a lower voltage and temperature number than notebooks or desktops.

    This is because the smartphone must be comfortable to hold by people.

    You cant have a phone with a battery that's too large or heavy that it will pull down pants or too hot to hold with one's bare hands.

    A smartphone chip that can handle the same power and paired with an active heat sink fan can be expected to be able to keep up with larger computing devices.
     
  9. ice

    ice PhilMUG Addict Member

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    Apple will definitely start with laptops...

    1. They can boast battery life (like the Windows machines running Snapdragon)
    2. They can add LTE
    3. Apple Laptops have shorter lifespan (we tend to replace them faster, compared to the iMac)

    I'm guessing they either release a new Macbook... or re-launch the Macbook Air.
     
  10. King

    King Active Member

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    Per intel the average upgrade cycle for personal computers in general lengthened from 3 years to every 6 years.

    So if your Mac was bought before April 2012 you may want to consider buying a new one when the 2018 models are out.

    This is unlike smartphones that people change every 21 months. Still using an iPhone 6s? You may want to check out the iPhone 8.

    I think Apple just wants to increase the install base of iPhone chips to spread out R&D cost further, not be dependent on Intel’s now slowing upgrade cycle and retain more income from keeping some operations in house.
     
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  11. Salaryman Ryan

    Salaryman Ryan PhilMUG Addict Member

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    Considering the most awaited Mac Pro will be definitely using Intel chips (and probably some sort of ARM coprocessor like in the iMac Pro and Macbook Pro). I'm guessing we will still have Intel Macs in the near future.

    Very possible like Apple's more premium version of the Chrome books. I read somewhere (almost a year ago so I forgot the link, wish I could find it again) that another interesting method Apple could implement to extend its battery life is to do some sort of processor switching. The Macbook will have both an ARM and an Intel chip, when doing light tasks like checking email the Macbook will use the ARM chip and when you start doing heavy work like editing movies the Intel CPU will turn on. Very similar to the graphic card switching we have on our current 15 inch Macbook Pro.

    Also a switch to purely arm will entale another HUGE effort for both Apple and its Mac users. Considering Apple is now very very focused on its iOS devices and its Mac division getting less attention I wonder if Apple is willing to undergo this herculean effort.
     
    #11 Salaryman Ryan, Apr 8, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
  12. oldtimer

    oldtimer Active Member

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    Looking forward to an ARM-based Macbook running iOS, with touchscreen, FaceID, but with at least 2 USB-C ports and LTE-A modem.
     
  13. Salaryman Ryan

    Salaryman Ryan PhilMUG Addict Member

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    I'm not. I still have PTS from the last switch from PowerPC to Intel. Haha
     
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  14. Qin Zhi

    Qin Zhi Well-Known Member

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    Even if Macs eventually transitions to ARM, according to this Ars Technica article, Tim Cook said in an interview that Apple has no intention of merging macOS and iOS: Tim Cook on merging macOS and iOS: “I don’t think that’s what users want”.


     
    #14 Qin Zhi, Apr 21, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
  15. King

    King Active Member

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  16. Salaryman Ryan

    Salaryman Ryan PhilMUG Addict Member

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  17. Seven Leaves

    Seven Leaves Member

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    Looks like your analysis was spot on. T2 chips on the iMac Pro and new 2018 Macbook Pro. Interesting to see how this goes.
     
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  18. King

    King Active Member

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