Apple Keen on Developing ARM-Based Mac Processors and iPhone Modems In-House

Discussion in '[H]ard|OCP Front Page News' started by Megalith, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    Industry sources and analysts suggest that Apple is keen to expand its semiconductor capabilities further: they say the company is interested in building core processors for notebooks, modem chips for iPhones, and a chip that integrates touch, fingerprint, and display driver functions.

    Two industry sources say that Apple is trying to cut its dependence on Intel when it comes to notebook chips and instead build those using ARM architecture, referring to the SoftBank-controlled British chip designer. "Notebooks are becoming thinner, while consumers are demanding better mobility and longer battery life. That gives ARM's architecture, which is known for its power efficiency, a very good opportunity," a chip industry executive said.
     
  2. steakman1971

    steakman1971 [H]ard|Gawd

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    This makes business sense for Apple. Right now, they are dependent on Intel and other companies for various technologies. I'm sure Apple and Intel meet frequently to discuss roadmaps, what Apple is expecting, where Intel is heading, etc.
    If you've watched Apple, they have been buying a lot of semiconductor companies (research focused) in the past 5 years or so. They've designed some of their chips (like the new A11). Love or hate them, the performance if the chips is impressive.
    I would not be surprised if they are going to invest in an OLED manufacturer. I believe Samsung is the only supplier right now - if I recall, the iPhone X screen costs about $110. You know there is no lover between these two companies.
     
  3. Private_Ops

    Private_Ops [H]ard|Gawd

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    Wasnt Apple brokering some kind of deal with AMD?
     
  4. gxp500

    gxp500 Limp Gawd

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    If apple wants the best they gotta pay, they can try their luck with lg oled but those things look like they have backlight bleed, yes backlight bleed on an oled, it looks horrible.
     
  5. Uvaman2

    Uvaman2 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Nah, its usually fake to probably extract concessions... Same with these rumors, doubt they are anywhere ready to kick Intel out.
    It might actually be interesting if it happened though, very interesting.
     
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  6. DigitalGriffin

    DigitalGriffin 2[H]4U

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    "arm based Mac processors"

    They can't be that stupid.
     
  7. Chimpee

    Chimpee Gawd

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    I am not keen on Apple OS development, but aren't they still using OS X for more than 10 years?
     
  8. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge 2[H]4U

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    Windows 10 is just Vista upgraded, Android is still Linux, and OSX is still Unix...

    If they changed the name, would that help?
     
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  9. Absalom

    Absalom Limp Gawd

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    Why doesn't Apple just buy ARM instead of licensing its IP over and over again? Apple have tons of cash floating. Seems like the logical choice for them.
     
  10. Chimpee

    Chimpee Gawd

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    Fair point.
     
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  11. Brian_B

    Brian_B Gawd

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    Apple is one of only a hnadful of companies to have an Architectural License from ARM. It isn’t cheap, but it’s a lot less than the $31B that SoftBank just paid for them.

    And there is very little stopping Apple from doing to ARM what they are currently doing to Qualcomm. License expires after a few years, in that time Apple has evolved the product significantly enough they believe they can defend it against patent claims (along with throwing in some FUD in the legal filing about illegal business practices), so they just stop licensing. Qualcomm claims otherwise, of course
     
  12. Brian_B

    Brian_B Gawd

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    Closer to 15, yes. Although it’s on Major Revision 14 now (10.13 High Sierra, released last week).

    In that same time period, you can count on one hand major Windows revisions.
     
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  13. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    More like 16-17 years now.
    Weird to think that it has been that long already.
     
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  14. Brian_B

    Brian_B Gawd

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    Yup, OS X released just before Windows XP.

    I can remember installing it on a Grape iMac that I got on clearance at CompUSA. That iMac still runs today (not a daily driver anymore though), with the same shitty hockey puck mouse.

    I liked MacOS 7/8/9. But X ... I still use it today. It still looks and feels pretty much as it has since 2001 and it doesn’t feel antiquated or out of place to me.
     
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  15. 86 5.0L

    86 5.0L [H]ardness Supreme

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    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Display_Corporation

    Apple can just go straight to the same source LG and Samsung go

     
  16. Shintai

    Shintai [H]ardness Supreme

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    Apple doesn't have much if any modem IP. So developing anything there would be interesting.

    ARM being power efficient is another myths that belongs to the past. Try test GB on an iPhone and tell me its not getting hot. It draws up to 15W.

    IPhone sales have been stagnant for a while and now in decline. The CEO, former CFO, just keeps raising prices. I wouldn´t be surprised to see Apple essentially killing the entire Mac line by trying to offset some of the cost there. Reality is on ARM, Mac sales will drop to maybe around 1/3rd because its usability drops significantly. A lot of Mac owners run windows, others with Windows in a VM.

    And all professional applications on the Mac may simply say goodbye for good. Including gaming that was slowly starting to get some support.
     
  17. Twisted Kidney

    Twisted Kidney 2[H]4U

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    Yeah, I'd love to see another strong player in the processor arena. Let's be honest though, it could never be Apple. They aren't fond of letting anything leave their little ecosystem.
     
  18. THRESHIN

    THRESHIN 2[H]4U

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    It wouldn't take much of a push. The professional applications are what kept mac alive. They're all on windows for many years now and performance is just as good if not better. I know several graphic designers whose companies have dumped macs simply because windows based works just as well if not better and on the hardware side they can get far more performance while still spending far less.

    Come to think of it, I'm not sure why so many are still using macs for this kind of work.
     
  19. vegeta535

    vegeta535 Gawd

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    Cause that is all they know. Humans hate change even if it is for the better. They been always told that Macs were the best for photo/video editing and PC couldn't handle it.
     
  20. DigitalGriffin

    DigitalGriffin 2[H]4U

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    What defines an OS is it's core level API/Kernel. With every major windows release Kernel/API have been mostly rewritten from the ground up to handle changes in the hardware development front. Things like multiple processors and scheduling, hardware security features, storage device changes (m2, solid state, USB 3.1) etc. We might see direct support for VR in the next major windows release.

    I don't know how many time apple rewrote OS X from the ground up.
     
  21. otherweeb

    otherweeb Gawd

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    I'm feeling a strong sense of Deja Vu, PowerPC anyone?
     
  22. DigitalGriffin

    DigitalGriffin 2[H]4U

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    I was thinking the same thing...
     
  23. grtitan

    grtitan [H]ard|Gawd

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    The only place were Intel is still king is on mobile, which apple can continue using, but there is absolutely nothing wrong in Apple using Ryzen and Threadrippers on their desktops.

    The funny thing is, I submitted a link a couple of weeks ago where their new ARM CPU was as fast as some laptops with I5's on geekbench 4 and all hell broke lose because is a blasphemy that such a thing is happening.

    the performance already shown on their A10X and A11 is impressive, considering the fact that they are confined to very constrained devices.

    I wish to see one of those CPU's on a proper desktop with proper cooling and see how much they can do.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
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  24. elzeus

    elzeus [H]ard|Gawd

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    They should cut a deal with Microsoft to get their x86 arm emulation tech to speed things up.
     
  25. blkt

    blkt Gawd

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    The PowerPC era was not in-house but collaboration between Apple, IBM and Motorola. Apple has their own ARM lineup for a long time now, most recently integrating their own GPU into the A11 (no more PowerVR). Now it is a matter of gaining independence on the surrounding parts for their phones while expanding into thin notebooks.
     
  26. Brian_B

    Brian_B Gawd

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    Apple isn't interested in the desktop market in the least. And hasn't been since ... 2012 or so , when they gave up on the last real desktop model (the last of the 1st Gen Mac Pro). Since then, everything has shifted over to laptop, AIO or mini designs (which all use Mobile parts), and the "Pro" is so heavily customized I don't know what to think of it (other than it's been largely abandoned as well).
     
  27. grtitan

    grtitan [H]ard|Gawd

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    Not entirely true.

    iMacs are actually using desktop class intel CPUs, with standard sockets and everything.

    About the Mac Pro, yeah, that thing is not a Pro, if anything, it would be a Mini Pro.

    They did say they will bring a better Mac Pro out next year, but who knows what that means in jony ive's twisted mind.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
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  28. gigatexal

    gigatexal [H]ardness Supreme

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    The chip in the new iPhones is as fast or faster than some of the MacBook 13s. Let that sink in and think if they could scale the chip up, add SIMD, and some other desktopy things it could be amazing. Oh and integrating the GPU would be easy so they could get away from other vendors.
     
  29. ChristianVirtual

    ChristianVirtual [H]ard DCOTM March 2016

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    I think it very easy for Apple

    1) With Xcode and bitcode they can easy compile for both architectures at the same time
    2) use ARM for the entry level MacBooks and whatever they want
    3) use Intel/AMD for the power-hungry customers
     
  30. krotch

    krotch [H]ardness Supreme

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    That's if you don't count Service Packs that can significantly alter the OS. That or now, with all those Win 10 releases. OSX revisions were essentially nothing more than big service packs and now MS is essentially calling it the same crap with Win 10.

    I guess it's easier to make your OS look better by simply calling it the same thing, but releasing updates. If OSX were given completely different names for their releases, like OS11, OS12, OS13, etc for their revisions, someone could come along and be like,"ZOMG, OS12 was shit!" Instead, since it's all OSX, no one is saying OSX is shit. Instead, they might call that specific revision bad.

    While MS was giving them different names. So, you had "Vista is shit" or "Win 8/8.1" is shit. Now, as they're all 10, same thing as OSX. You'll eventually get to the point where no one is saying Win 10 is shit. They'll just call an update shit, not the overall OS.

    Just a guess.
     
  31. krotch

    krotch [H]ardness Supreme

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    Kind of hard to compare completely different architectures against each other.
     
  32. gigatexal

    gigatexal [H]ardness Supreme

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    Not when they are running the same benchmark: geek bench3 numbers
     
  33. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Not really, there have been many benchmarks dating back into the 1970s to do just this, both synthetic and real-world, to compare different architectures and ISAs.
     
  34. rudy

    rudy [H]ardness Supreme

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    It is all about cutting costs and apple is the most capable of doing it. $30 ARM CPU or $200 intel CPU. Apple can easily trick their users into switching. Yes PowerPC is coming back
     
  35. krotch

    krotch [H]ardness Supreme

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    Yes and they tend to be completely useless benchmarks.
     
  36. gigatexal

    gigatexal [H]ardness Supreme

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    Not really. If you break down applications to their intrinsic parts: compute, IO, etc., it’s easy to make a benchmark that tests those things. Testing the floating point perf of something helps in ballparking compute perf for example.
     
  37. viper1152012

    viper1152012 Limp Gawd

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    Oh god, like bring back the G4 days.
    Intel and Microsoft saved them from bankruptcy by standardizing them with office and the ability to run windows in parallels.

    Build an is on ARM and watch the line explode in popularity and then disappear.

    But our mips are so more intel+
    Sure but web compatibility such and no software to speak of.
    But ourz dongkz
     
  38. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Um, how are real-world benchmarks useless??
    Also, synthetic benchmarks will give a rough general outline on the standing of performance when comparing architectures.

    I don't really see why you are saying they are "useless", when clearly they have been used for over 40 years now.
     
  39. ChadD

    ChadD I Love TEXAS

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    ARM based machines are not always going to be less then x86. If apple wants to build a A11x that clocks faster and uses active cooling they could no doubt replace intel today. If they want to replace the chips in higher end desktops they could add other interesting bits to their soc design, ai, more gpu compute cores, just more cores and heck they could even just slap 2 SOC in the thing. The A11s single core performance is on par with mid range 3.4 mobile i7... and with software become more and more muli threaded. There is nothing stopping Apple from taking the A11 dropping the low power cores and going with 4 high performance cores, beefing up the GPU clocking it 2-3x higher then the mobile version for active cooling.

    Will they do that ? Who knows... perhaps it iOS stagnates, they try and do something interesting. Doesn't sound like Apple anymore though.
     
  40. gigatexal

    gigatexal [H]ardness Supreme

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    I think they totally could do this and should. It would fit their desire to vertically integrate even more. Just see what they did to imagination technologies, Intel is too big, so they could do it all inhouse and use their rabbit fanbase to finance it all. They could announce it tomorrow and I'd be in line to buy a macbook based on it.