Apple Plans to Use Its Own Chips in Macs from 2020, Replacing Intel

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, Apr 8, 2018.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

    Messages:
    13,004
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    By 2020, Macs may no longer utilize processors by Intel: Apple is reportedly switching to chips designed in-house. It is part of the fruit company’s goal to unify all of its devices so they can work more similarly and seamlessly.

    Currently, all iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Apple TVs use main processors designed by Apple and based on technology from Arm Holdings Plc. Moving to its own chips inside Macs would let Apple release new models on its own timelines, instead of relying on Intel’s processor roadmap.
     
  2. RevPuk

    RevPuk Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    175
    Joined:
    May 28, 2017
    Because that totally worked out for them in the past....
     
  3. GotNoRice

    GotNoRice [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    9,256
    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2001
    Does Apple make chips? Otherwise what are we talking about when we say they are moving to "its own" chips? Arm?

    I guess when you have such a small userbase, compatibility with existing Macs is not a concern. This will probably be an iPhone with an external monitor and keyboard.
     
  4. Absalom

    Absalom Gawd

    Messages:
    699
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Well... it was a nice run. Back to PowerPC-era mediocrity you go.

    At least this will give those Apple marketing guys new and exciting challenges.
     
  5. Absalom

    Absalom Gawd

    Messages:
    699
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    The article hints at ARM. ARM doesn't make anything. They only license out their Intellectual Property (i.e. ARM instruction set) to companies like Samsung, Apple, etc. to make their own physical hardware.

    And unlike Intel and Samsung, Apple, at least presently, doesn't own its own foundry to make its ARM-based cpus. It farms that out to TSMC.

    If true, this will be interesting to see play out. I could see Apple building (or buying) its own foundry as a result of this move. It would support any notion that "Apple doesn't rely on any 3rd party time schedule" for future products. They could build everything in-house, i.e. desktop, phones, watches, TVs, etc.
     
  6. Master_shake_

    Master_shake_ [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    9,956
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2012
    Probably worried about massive security holes.
     
    qb4ever likes this.
  7. THRESHIN

    THRESHIN 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,973
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2002
    I'd never buy a mac, but I find this interesting. Yes the later power PC chips in the past were pretty awful. However, the earlier designs from apple were extremely fast. Well ahead of their time. Apple just fell behind badly as time went on.

    ARM has proven itself to be very efficient. It's well established by now, so if they're using that I'm curious what they'll do with it.
     
  8. griffinhart

    griffinhart [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,294
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    The relying on Intel's time line thing is funny. They do not keep up with Intel's time line today. Their line up is often a generation or two out of date before they refresh them.
     
  9. Nimisys

    Nimisys Likes To Play With Trannies

    Messages:
    17,449
    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2000
    this. This where Apple is going. Unified hardware base for unified OS and converged software. Basically what MS is/was trying to do with Win10 and WindowsPhone. With the exception of the very high end Pro users, for the common general.use scenario of web, media, social network and basic photo work, no reason a pumped up ARM design won't work.
     
    zehoo and arthur_tuxedo like this.
  10. gglenn

    gglenn [H]Lite

    Messages:
    99
    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    Mac used to have some nice niche specialties in photo editing and desktop publishing. I don't think they have much of an advantage there anymore. It looks like they are focusing on Mac as primarily an iOS dev platform going forward.
     
  11. ChadD

    ChadD [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,256
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    People seem to forget that Apple has a lot more cash then Intel. Intel who has been sitting on their asses for years not seeming to be all that concerned about the threat ARM represented.

    Apple will make more money switching to their own arm design, and I doubt they loose any performance at all. The biggest advantage to making your own chip and using ARM is being able to add custom designed cores to the design.

    The question will be how Apple splits that work up and handles it on the chip. If they can manage to split higher end workloads up properly and feed them into custom ASIC units they could easily end up with machines that are insanely fast for specific workloads. I would not be shocked to see Apple selling Arm based macs that can run specific Pro software packages faster then any x86. Or on the flip side this could work out as well as Windows on Arm. (although I do believe if MS was tailoring the silicon directly to their needs that too could work)
     
    Neo_East and jfreund like this.
  12. grtitan

    grtitan Telemetry is Spying on ME!

    Messages:
    1,266
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    Clarifing some info here:

    PowerPC was not an Apple design, it was based on IBM POWER cpu and worked on by Motorola and IBM.

    ARM has several different tiers of licensing, the highest one allows a company to make their own design, based on ARM cpu core design, which Apple has and already do.

    Apple ARM chips are currently very competitive with low end intels. I believe they beat some i5 mobile in many tasks.

    Since they didn’t specify whats the move, it could just be that Apple will either switch to ARM and perhaps AMD.

    Talking about AMD, they also have an ARM license and could, in theory, make a custom chip for Apple that would include an ARM core, a x86_64 core and Radeon GPU.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
  13. Kdawg

    Kdawg Gawd

    Messages:
    938
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2017
    i doubt they would release a slower chip than the current crop. Even though they are always late to update, they wouldn't go backwards.
     
  14. Elios

    Elios [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,207
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2004
  15. Krixon

    Krixon Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    372
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2015
    I'm curious to see what this will mean for third party application support. I remember when Apple made the switch to intel and seeing a flood of non-apple programs hit the platform.

    Sure, this movie might unify all their devices, but it could also ostracize anyone who uses a workflow outside of Apple's direct offerings.
     
  16. Lakados

    Lakados [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,759
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2014
    Honestly for the average Mac user their current A11 would be sufficient for all their needs. It is powerful enough to run pages and the rest of the Apple docs line as well as the basic picture and video editing software.
     
  17. Lakados

    Lakados [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,759
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2014
    OSX has some pretty strict requirements any programs done up in Objective C or .Net will be fine and just need a recompile with basic alterations to the graphical API to make it functional, stability will take a while I assume as I am sure there will be quirks. But Apple has been working on this since they released the Metal API.

    Adobe and many others are already working on porting their software to the web as it is more profitable and it expands their user base.
     
  18. GotNoRice

    GotNoRice [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    9,256
    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2001
    Is anyone really that eager to have it dictated to them, via the app store, exactly what they can or can't run on the platform? I guess Mac users are.
     
  19. northwoodsf

    northwoodsf [H]Lite

    Messages:
    116
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    Intel does not seem to worried too much. Their stock is still need hight.
     
  20. ChadD

    ChadD [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,256
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    A chip with x86 and Arm cores... that could operate in ARM mode 90% of the time and x86 when required. That sounds pretty awsome... but I would imagine there would be major issues making that work in software. Far easier to simply include faster more/ARM cores.

    ARM server chips offer decent performance and yes their selling point is lower power use... still they are starting to offer performance almost on par. The companies making those chips don't have anything close to the type of R&D Design money Apple could throw at boosting general ARM performance.

    Some interesting reading;
    https://www.cavium.com/product-thunderx-arm-processors.html
    https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=cavium-thunderx-96core&num=1
    The main issue with the arm chips in servers is software and how well the job at hand can be threaded. Phoronix ran a Cavium based server through a bunch of tests and at times it equals end user i7/Ryzen at best (this is a dual arm core server) but in other tests it can hang with Epic and Xeon golds in performance which is pretty amazing considering the power draw differences.

    I would imagine Apple if they spend the money could easily design a 32+ core arm chip with the same type of custom high performance fully out-of-order cores you find in ARM server chips like the ones from Cavium. (never mind that the current Cavium chips are fabbed at like 28nm... its hard to to think Apple could find a ton of performance with a higher end fab process ect)

    I think the issues will still lie in the software arena. Unless apple adds some novel on chip way of feeding their custom cores without needing software input.
     
  21. Galvin

    Galvin 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,695
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2002
    I think as time moves on Intel will lose more market share. Depends heavily on amd's success of their own cpu's imo. Its not cheap to make your own chips though. Costs billions in R&D.
     
  22. Elios

    Elios [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,207
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2004
    PS4 did this already they used x86 as the main CPU then stuck an ARM chip on the side via the PCIe bus replacing the northbridge
     
    ChadD likes this.
  23. Biostud

    Biostud n00b

    Messages:
    62
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2012
    That will put a stop to pc games on a mac.
     
    MrGuvernment likes this.
  24. ChadD

    ChadD [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,256
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_A11

    Apple has already released their 7th generation ARM design at this point. No doubt the 8th is already complete and they are working on their 9th. I would assume the 9th gen Apple part is what is being considered for Intel replacement.
     
  25. EODetroit

    EODetroit [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,485
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    HAHAHA. Haha. Yeah cause when they were on Motorola, it worked so well for them. Apple is trash. Who cares about phone CPUs, they're plenty fast. They're basically ceding the desktop market, not that they had much, to Intel.
     
  26. Brian_B

    Brian_B 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,356
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    This is old news, and this rumor comes up all the time, but it's still fun to speculate. I do think Apple will do one of two things inside the next 5 years:

    Switch to their own ARM architecture and ditch Intel (they can easily do this, they've moved Macintosh across 3 different archs successfully by now, they have the software down, and they know their own source code and CPUs better than anyone)
    -or-
    Just drop their OS X line entirely. They are already trying to (clumsily) migrate the iPad over as a content creation device. Get everything over to their iOS line (which is what is really making them money anyway) and just drop all the legacy hardware. Leave the desktops and pros to their workstations made by someone else (they already dropped their rack servers, and their "Server" OS... this is just the next step in that evolution).

    This is also semi-interesting reads. Flawed, but again, fun to speculate.
    https://www.theverge.com/2016/9/16/12939310/iphone-7-a10-fusion-processor-apple-intel-future
    https://www.macrumors.com/2017/09/13/a11-bionic-chip-geekbench-scores/

    As far as ceding the desktop (also including laptop) market... yeah, they don't have a lot of marketshare (OS X vs Windows)... HP/Lenovo/Dell are the big 3, but they are still the top 5 manufacturers by units shipped, and have been for a few years running now. They sell a significant number of units. They sell a ~lot~ of Macbooks.
     
  27. Brian_B

    Brian_B 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,356
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    This is very true. It may cost Billions to make a new CPU, but Apple has Billions, and started investing down that path several years ago. Their first Apple designed CPU released in a commercial product was the A4, which was the CPU in the iPhone 4 and original iPad. Before that, their mobile devices still used a customized ARM design, but it was designed and manufactured by Samsung.

    Apple also makes their own Comms chips (W series), their own biometrics/security chips (T series), full system chips (S series), their own motion coprocessors (M series), their own IO and NVMe controllers, and their own integrated GPUs (I think starting with the A9). There isn't much that Apple doesn't make their own of at this point.. memory chips I suppose.
     
    ChadD likes this.
  28. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    12,145
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    To be fair, that southbridge was an existing SoC (probably used in a tablet or similar device), programmed to act as a southbridge.



    As for the person hoping for AMD ARM, that project should be dead. IIRC, didn't Samsung hire away the entire team that was working on that? The Bobcat/Jaguar team?
     
  29. WhoMe

    WhoMe Gawd

    Messages:
    827
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2018
    As if I needed another reason not to buy a Mac.

    If I want my desktop to have the power of a phone why not just buy a phone and connect it to my monitor? Then at least I can use it as a phone too.
     
    kirbyrj likes this.
  30. I am slowly dispensing with apple products, so this wont affect me.

    I love my ipad and phone but I am getting pissed off with their extreme prices and the fact that simply buying an ipad or iphone is not enough, they also want your soul and you to stay with them for life.

    Have ditched apple music and went with tidal, have ditched their cloud and moved to dropbox and I never used their email, so I am slowly GTFO.

    I need a new tablet and phone, I know I wont be buying another iphone as I really do not need another £1000 phone. If I was to buy something from apple it would probably be an ipad but I am looking for a good contender for a none apple tablet.

    Also, I hate the fact that my ipad is getting slower and slower with every update apple make to ios, I wait 20+ seconds for fukin imsg to open dafuq and also random crashes due to lack of memory. I am sure they do it deliberatly to force us to upgrade.

    I am not hating apple as its obvious that they make good products, its just that I didnt know buying something from them was a life long commitment.
     
  31. devil22

    devil22 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,834
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    I can see it now, a return to boosting photoshop benchmarks while everything else is dog slow again.
     
  32. Uvaman2

    Uvaman2 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,143
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2016
    Haha... Intel is being played once again that is all.. I guess the we are going AMD scare tactic would not fly after using it at least 2 times in the past.
     
  33. shpankey

    shpankey Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    157
    Joined:
    May 27, 2005
    They already make their own CPU's and GPU's on their phones, ipad's etc. They want cross compatibility moving from phone to ipad to desktop, so this makes sense.

    Also, yay, because I want to see Intel squirm.
     
  34. IcePickFreak

    IcePickFreak [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,149
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Brian_B likes this.
  35. ZorinInc

    ZorinInc n00b

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2015
    I'd rather have my old Commodore 64 back than have to use ANY Apple product.
    Screen-Shot-2012-01-15-at-1-15-8.39.32-PM.png
     
    Phattio and DrezKill like this.
  36. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    15,166
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2005
    In 2 years I speculate we will have another article that states sometime in the future Apple will switch to their own CPU.
     
    Brian_B likes this.
  37. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    12,372
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2003
    This is an evolution of mobile design- but it happens on x86 CPUs just as well. There's nothing really special about ARM except that it isn't x86, well, and that it's slower.
     
  38. matt167

    matt167 Gawd

    Messages:
    855
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2016
    Apple is a greedy company. They have great operating systems that use basically mainstream components and charge a wild premium for them.. Microsoft could have done the same ( even with windows phone ), but did not.. Mac only survives by that hardware gouging. Mac could open a new world if they released a PC supported version of OSX and license paid IOS upgrades to top of the line Android smartphones. But that will never happen.
     
  39. ChadD

    ChadD [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,256
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    There are a few massive differences.

    1) ARM is still being licensed. Apple Samsung or any other company that wants to Riff on the ARM core can go right ahead and buy a licences. Intel isn't exactly selling those anymore.... anyone other then them that has one has them via decades now old deals and legal judgments.
    2) big.LITTLE ARM by design allows different types of cores to be operate as one unit. This allows designers to include super low power cores as well as high performance which is the common usage. However it also allows AI/NET or whatever other type of custom cores a designer wishes to add to work with the same cache as the rest of the CPU ect. For phones this has meant everything from security to ai cores put on die. For laptops and desktops... ya its actually exciting to think about what useful things could be included into the designs.
    3) RISC v CISC. there are a ton of far more technical reads around the net then I can sum up in a few sentences. Bottom line the nature of the architectures are very different. Both have some advantages, and some disadvantages. Overall I believe ARM is the better architecture. Sure a CISC core will always be capable of better single threaded performance (at the cost of a ton more power use and heat creation). ARM however is the more modular design that will see the most advantage from threaded workloads... the type of loads that can much more easily be compiled (or programmed) to take advantage of custom co-processors (which all the big phone manufactures use for things like camera operation ect)

    At the end of the day x86 is an ancient design... created for a single threaded world where the solution to complicated math was to take a ton of CPU cycles to crunch things. It has never been a great instruction set for threading... almost all threading has be done a code level. The chips themselves don't lead themselves to doing their own math splitting and its why they have use things like thread prediction which is very inefficient in general. The way x86 works even doing some form of "auto threading" with a compiler is hard to accomplish. The other side of the coin is this isn't an issue for the ARM architecture..... if a software developer compiles for ARM if the silicon on X machine can do that math on which ever core it deems best, a Android/ios developer doesn't have to specific X low power core or Y high power general core should do this list of things and this other one that. x86 software tends to suck unless its created with multi threading in mind... and even then the programmer is going to have to decide which to send where... they are more likely going ot have to know if they are dealing with 1/2/4/64 cores ect, and to make matters worse because the math is done over multiple cycles and using prediction ect a lot of things are just forever going to have to be coded as singled threaded operations.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
    grtitan likes this.