Linus Torvalds Comments On Apple's Potential Move to ARM

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by AlphaAtlas, Feb 25, 2019.

  1. AlphaAtlas

    AlphaAtlas [H]ard|Gawd Staff Member

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    Rumors about the Mac's theoretical transition to ARM have been swirling ever since the original iPhone came out, if not earlier, but those rumors got particularly heated last week when both Bloomberg and Axios published reports claiming that the Cupertino-based company could make the switch sooner rather than later. While this would undoubtedly be a huge shift for Apple alone, the bigger question is what it would mean for the rest of the industry. Some think that ARM SOCs from a slew of companies could take over x86, Intel and AMD-based laptop, desktop, and servers in the future, while others say its not even within the realm of possibility.

    On the Real World Technologies forums, Linus Torvalds, the creator and lead developer of Linux, decided to chime in. In his usual "warm and fuzzy" style, Linus said that the x86 ecosystem is entrenched, and that even if ARM server chips that offered a substantial performance and power advantage over x86 counterparts came out tomorrow, they would have a tough time gaining any significant market share. However, he does acknowledge "that the ARM laptops may make this all work out on the development side. Whether from the PC side ("WARM") or Apple cutting their laptops over." Having native ARM systems sitting in the homes and workplaces of developers is supposedly critical to the platform's adoption, meaning that low-power ARM laptops could be a stepping stone to the proliferation of higher-power ARM designs. Thanks to cageymaru for spotting the posts.

    That said, I still strongly suspect that any "hyperscaling" 64-128 core system will be very underwhelming. It may be just good enough on Specrate style "nothing shared" benchmarks, and yes, you have the traditional network processor loads etc, but I think people always underestimate how big of a jump it really is from "look, we know how to make 4 cores work" to "look, we can cram a lot of cores on a die" and then to actually having something that truly scales. You simply need many many generations. And even then it's hard. So says a lot of mostly dead companies. Right now, ARM doesn't have even a single generation of server parts out, and they are pushing the hyperscaling story? Does that really make sense to anybody? (Yes, yes, I realize it makes tons of sense to all those people who already believe in the "sea or cores" fairytale despite not having any evidence of that ever working. But there's no arguing with delusion)
     
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  2. purple_monster

    purple_monster Gawd

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    oh gosh. please dont ruin the macbook pro even more.
     
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  3. vegeta535

    vegeta535 2[H]4U

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    Get use to it. Move on or accept it. In the next 5 years all Apple products will be using ARM and iOS.
     
  4. defaultluser

    defaultluser [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
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  5. Lakados

    Lakados [H]ard|Gawd

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    Meh.... as long as I can get Office365 installed on it along with a Citrix client then I’m good. Apple was bound to unify their OS platform at some point.
     
  6. viscountalpha

    viscountalpha 2[H]4U

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    No, Please keep ruining the Macbook pro even more! MUHAHAHAH AHAH AHHA

    Excellent.jpg
     
  7. velusip

    velusip [H]ard|Gawd

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    Just to clarify, this started as a comment about new ARM-based, compute-class architectures being less likely to take hold seeing as the common (home-based PC) x86 arch took over the compute world since it was familiar and readily available to developers. It's less likely to go the other way around.
     
  8. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    Just like Apple to force yet another compatibility breaking change on their customers.

    - 1994 Switch from Motorola 68k Series to PowerPC
    - 2001 Switch from MacOS to OSX
    - 2006 Switch from PowerPC to Intel x86
    - 2020? Switch to ARM?

    Meanwhile I can still natively run Prince of Persia if I boot up under DOS.

    Prince_of_Persia_%281989_video_game%29_IBM_PC_Version_gameplay.gif

    If I were an Apple user I'd be pissed.

    I guess they will just be sold on how "magical" the transition is. :/
     
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  9. nightanole

    nightanole [H]ard|Gawd

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    Update those dates with how the business did after the switch. The switch to core2duo was like the best thing the company ever did.
     
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  10. seanreisk

    seanreisk Gawd

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    Nobody knows what Apple is doing. I can easily see them starting off by offering an ultralight 13" notebook with the same specs as their high-end iPads, and if that works I can see them expanding their ARM offerings. I can even see them offering a low-end 24" ARM iMac. I don't think they're gonna bet the company and switch over en masse.
     
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  11. velusip

    velusip [H]ard|Gawd

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    It's like they think they are the incumbent, and thus they can do incumbent things.

    We'll see how it goes.
     
  12. Dekoth-E-

    Dekoth-E- [H]ardness Supreme

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    It isn't possible to make it more shit than it is at this point. I used to argue that any decent PC tech that needed to support a mixed environment needed a MacBook that could run OSX and Windows. Unfortunately Apple managed to take the hands down best technicians laptop on the market and destroy it turning it into nothing more than disposable consumer garbage.
     
  13. Grimlaking

    Grimlaking 2[H]4U

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    Arm on a MAC really? Lets just make sure it is as hard as possible to port over useful programs from PC to Mac. I don't see this working out well at all for MAC users. "I have your xxx multimedia application on my mac and when I do A +B it crashes." "Ok customer what model mac is it?" "Oh it's a macbook pro 15 inch." "Thank you sir what year?" "Oh yea it's a 2020 model." "yes sir with the arm processor?" "Yea that's correct." "I'm sorry sir we only offer best effort support to that platform due to the non native code interface and custom binaries needed to run on it. Please look at page 32 sub paragraph 4 footnote 3. " "Oh ok yea thanks... so what can you do?" "Well have you tried rebooting..."
     
  14. ManofGod

    ManofGod [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Linus cusses up a storm, news at 11. ;)
     
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  15. schmide

    schmide Limp Gawd

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    I'm with Linus on this. Development boxes drive adoption and until they release a box equal to a x86 development box, a big server box will remain mostly empty.

    I look forward to having a ARM box that is above Raspberry, above RK3399s, generally equal to an entry level PC with native drive and graphics support.

    Native Debuggers RULE

    Edit: I still find Linux development tedious, often writing code on a windows box. Linux needs something better and generally equal to Visual Studio.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
  16. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    I feel like this is the case with most laptops these days. At home on the rare occasion I need a laptop, I use my old Dell E6430s. It is great. I can swap drives, RAM and WLAN card son it on a moments notice if I so desire. It has a surprisingly good keyboard (for a laptop) too! None of those terrible scissor switches everyone is using these days. Sure it is a little thick, but I don't care.

    At work I have a recent E7xxx series (forget the exact model). Sure it is nice and thin, and has a higher resolution screen, but everything I hated about servicing a Mac I hate about this thing.

    Dells Latitude series have lost their soul in the last 6-7 years.

    As far as I am concerned, ~2012 was the last time you could buy a new good laptop.
     
  17. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    He is still the same old opinionated Linus we know and love, but I think he has actually become a lot better at exercising restraint since his "break".

    If you click through to his email, he is still a little bit abrasive, but still nowhere near as bad as he used to be. I guess you CAN teach old dogs a new trick or two.
     
  18. DukenukemX

    DukenukemX [H]ardness Supreme

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    The problem with ARM is not ARM itself but the companies who will use it to create a walled garden, like Apple would. X86 grew up from the relatively open IBM PC Compatible platform which gave rise to ATX standards. Anyone who makes an ARM laptop is going to prevent you from doing whatever it is you want, including what software you run on it. Companies can't even let me change my wifi adapter on a laptop without running into issues with a whitelist. Yes, laptop makers whitelist wifi adapters like the assholes they are.

    What we need is open standards built around ARM before companies make their own proprietary shit. Otherwise it'll be like tablets and smartphones where you can't even install a custom rom without hacking away with bootloaders and recoveries. Forget Apple cause we know they're a lost cause when it comes to open standards. You can't even install Linux on the latest Apple x86 laptops. They have no Vulkan support or even OpenGL 4.5 support. If you bought an Apple product you clearly made a mistake and I'm just sorry for you, but the rest of us need to worry about the important laptops that aren't from Apple. We need to make sure they don't go down that Apple road of a walled garden by using ARM.
     
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  19. schmide

    schmide Limp Gawd

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    This reminds me of some other caveats of the ARM landscape.

    Raspberry pi. The Broadcom VideoCore IV is a closed firmware and because of this 64bit OSes are horrible. Native support for the hardware is sparse and video decoding on 64bit is tragic.

    Move over to the Rockchip and you have more openness, yet it still can barely do hardware decode. Dropped frames are abundant. Android on it is a bit better but not exactly the robust environment most of us want.

    Software and drivers lag. Those who wish to see finished product that can support the vastness of hardware we expect from a platform this early are setting themselves up for disappointment.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
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  20. EchtoGammut

    EchtoGammut 2[H]4U

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    This generally falls in line with Apple's project "Marzipan" which is unifying library bases across IOS and MacOS. The notion is to have seamless app integration across all Mac devices. This isn't really new and there are many kludged together implementations like Electron, Windows Bridge, Chameleon, etcetera. But Apple, being Apple is very focused on created a gated environment, so moving away from x86 and to a unified ARM platform makes sense for them. The problem is going to be how this creates a new split in development for Apple. One of the reasons, an imperfect platform like Electron has gained such mass appeal is that it reduces development costs by as much as a 2/3rds for companies who are pushing out Apple, Android and Windows based applications. Granted Chomium et. al. will be quickly ported, but during the long break / patch cycle of waiting for things to work, it will require companies to push out dedicated Apple products again, because you can't not have a Apple product.
     
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  21. R_Type

    R_Type Limp Gawd

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    Realworldtech.com is a fantastic place to lurk. You got the 2 best tech minds who's candid thoughts are available publicly: on the software side Linus and on the hardware side David Kanter, who is as close to a best in this field expert as you can get that isn't tide down in a big tech company and it's NDAs and can discuss high-level topics openly. Occasionally browsing the posts on that site is an amazing way to really advance your knowledge of gpus/cpus/whatever.

    Linus is a verbal force of nature but he's on the money: x86 won by being everywhere, cheap and open to all. Legions of volunteers, tinkerers and wide-eyed college kids got it to where it is today and they will not and cannot do that for arm in the server space while there are no dev kits whatsoever.
     
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  22. tempertantrum

    tempertantrum Limp Gawd

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  23. pclov3r

    pclov3r Limp Gawd

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    It's still possible to run x86 apps via emulation. Windows 10 does this for ARM based devices.

    Performance and overhead tho is a different matter and wont be good on both fronts.
     
  24. PenGunn

    PenGunn Limp Gawd

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  25. shansoft

    shansoft [H]ardness Supreme

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    If Apple ever make a switch to ARM, its gonna be the end of Mac line overall. Lots of tech companies bulk purchasing Macs for its software engineers, since its much easier to do things between platform on it.
    ARM will just kill it if they ever pull that shit off. Not to mention how many Bootcamp users out there...


    If I want a "Full cloud backup", I would choose Huawei over anything.... :cool:
     
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  26. VIC-20

    VIC-20 Gawd

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    Apple is impossible to predict. Even industry veterans don't have a damn clue when it comes to them. Apple does what it wants and always seems to be successful despite naysayers when they announce something. I've given up guessing with them.
     
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  27. viscountalpha

    viscountalpha 2[H]4U

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    You can't teach an old dog new tricks. So the quickest way to prove your an old dog is not to learn new tricks.
     
  28. RogueKitsune

    RogueKitsune [H]Lite

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    For 90% of Apple users that I know the switch to an Arm processor would mean nothing to them. All these people care about is email/Facebook/Instagram/etc.
    For 5% they also wouldn't care as they would just never buy another Mac and instead probably switch to some sort of *nix.
    And the last group would be absolutely pissed as they have tons of money invested in OSX only software that, I am assuming, will only ever work on x86-64
     
  29. DocNo

    DocNo Gawd

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    lol - Linus on hardware.

    Poor beleaguered Apple - how will they ever survive?

    Love these threads on this site - comedy gold. It will be fun coming back to this thread a few years from now. The previous threads like these have aged so well :)
     
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  30. idiomatic

    idiomatic [H]Lite

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    Shake. Color. Final Cut Pro.

    Servers, Towers, Storage.

    Y'all know the Mac Pro still runs on DDR 3 right?

    Apple is a phone company, a consumer electronics company. Their laptops and desktops of the future are better thought of as phones with full size keyboards.

    On the flip side, now you can edit video and add a tonne of advanced grading and effects on your phone.
     
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  31. Dekoth-E-

    Dekoth-E- [H]ardness Supreme

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    Come to think of it, I think 2012 is around the last time I wasn't completely unhappy with just about every damn thing on my laptop.
     
  32. Paul_Johnson

    Paul_Johnson [H] Admin Staff Member

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    That is a rather short sighted view. Apple almost died completely back in the late 1990's and would have if it wasn't for Microsoft giving them $100 million plus capital injection plus bringing Office over. In reality, they have only been wildly successful since the iDevice days.
     
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  33. PenGunn

    PenGunn Limp Gawd

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    Interesting. So you do understand a guy who wrote and maintains an OS that runs everywhere, knows more about the hardware it runs on, than almost anyone else. Maybe not. ;)
     
  34. Brian_B

    Brian_B 2[H]4U

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    Well, I suppose if you look at Macintosh sales, yes.

    But if you look at the company - the best thing it ever did was probably release the iPod -- which then lead directly to the Apple Music Store, and the iPhone, and the App Store. The App Store/Music Store alone ("Services") generates more revenue than Macintosh does, and it has a much lower overhead.

    https://www.statista.com/chart/13710/apple-revenue-by-product-group/

    Apple hasn't been a "computer" company for a long, long time, and publicly acknowledged that in 2007 with their corporate name change. If everyone here wants to pretend that moving their Macintosh line from any CPU to any other CPU will significantly impact their overall business... no, it won't, because Macintosh isn't a primary driver of Apple's business and hasn't been for a long time. It's long past time Apple re-aligned Macintosh with their new core business - for better or worse.
     
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  35. chithanh

    chithanh Gawd

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    Linus Torvalds used to work for a CPU company called Transmeta.
    I think it is rather the contrary, those articles who emphasize the "ARM is non-viable in servers" part are quoting out of context for sensationalism.
     
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  36. awawa

    awawa n00b

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    Same goes for ThinkPads.
     
  37. steakman1971

    steakman1971 2[H]4U

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    My theory, which isn't based on any facts at all, is the Macbook and Macbook Air might switch to ARM at some point in the future. The MB Pros, Mac Pros, maybe iMac's stay X86. This would make the most sense and hit the right target audiences.
     
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  38. PenGunn

    PenGunn Limp Gawd

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    I'm pretty sure that's : Thus spake ... not said. ;)
     
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  39. Snoflo

    Snoflo Limp Gawd

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    So agree. For what I was looking for in 2019 only the HP ZBook 17 G5 reminded me of my older laptops (Precisions from Dell), so I bought one. Love it.
     
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  40. aokman

    aokman Gawd

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    What you mean by making faster, quieter, cooler. That is the whole reason Apple hates Intel.

    Apple will go ARM, they already have like 70% of the market with just converted ipad apps alone.