Macs Could Jump to ARM in 2020

AlphaAtlas

[H]ard|Gawd
Staff member
Joined
Mar 3, 2018
Messages
1,713
TSMC is already making all of Apple's 7nm iPhone chips, and a new report by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that TSMC will remain their sole supplier in 2019 and 2020. That isn't a huge surprise, as TSMC, Samsung, and Intel are the only bleeding edge foundries left. Intel is suffering from production issues and typically doesn't open their foundries to other customers, and Samsung is Apple's biggest competitor. However, the analyst also suggests that ARM-based processors could power Macs in 2020 or 2021. ARM Mac rumors are nothing new, but TSMC's newfound fabrication edge could bring that possibility closer to reality.

We also expect that Mac models will adopt Apple's in-house-designed processor starting 2020 or 2021, which will create four advantages for Apple: (1) Apple could control everything about the Mac's design and production and be rid of negative impacts from Intel's processor shipment schedule changes. (2) Better profits thanks to lower processor cost. (3) Mac market share gain if Apple lowers the price. (4) It could differentiate Mac from peers' products. Kuo also suggests Apple will recruit TSMC to manufacture chips for its upcoming Apple Car starting in 2023 to 2025. We believe that Apple Car's Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) will support either Level 4 (high automation) or Level 5 (full automation). Only TSMC's 3/5 nm process can meet Level 4 and Level 5 chip requirements.
 

Elios

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Aug 12, 2004
Messages
7,238
saw this coming for a long time Apple wants out of the x86 world its to power hungry for them
 

H2R2P2

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jun 18, 2006
Messages
412
No. The Chrome books are cheap. Expect these to go for more then what they currently selling MacBooks for.
You missed the underlying point I was getting at.. There is a reason Intel CPU's are the way they are. A lot of it has to do with maintaining backwards compatibility, but the other aspect is due to speed when being used during non-deterministic, purpose built purposes. For example, you can build a very simple RISC based calculator. It will be very cheap, very energy efficient, etc.. Now build a calculator using a traditional Intel CPU and corresponding computer parts you need to make it work. The computer based approach is comparatively extremely expensive, uses comparatively extreme amounts of power, isnt portable, etc.. Having said this, both will work perfectly fine for calculator duties; but if you ever need to do something with those numbers you are calculating (such as put them into a spreadsheet, database, share with another department, etc.) than the purpose built calculator is a joke.

ARM makes sense in the areas they are used. Yes, there are ARM based products (like the Chrome Book, Surface RT (I dont recall what the most current ARM based Surface is called) that provide traditional "computer" duties but they are woefully inadequate if you use them outside their narrow scope of intended uses.

If Apple goes towards ARM for their MacBook lineup, then they are throwing in the towel with regard to performance and will be a glorified Chrome Book. Heck, they switched *TO* Intel CPUs and away from Motorola (witch was also a RISC based design) because they weren't serious options for anyone other than in the sound/graphics/content creators.
 

IdiotInCharge

NVIDIA SHILL
Joined
Jun 13, 2003
Messages
14,712
The big question in my mind is the software.

They had enough trouble getting dev shops to ship for the trash processors they were using before Intel- and everyone had to make that transition. Will companies follow suit?

Maybe if they get the performance up, which is possible.

In any case, I'll keep the 8550U in my ultrabook.
 

nutzo

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Feb 15, 2004
Messages
7,380
This should really be helpful to all the people who need to run Windows apps on their Mac. :rolleyes:
(not)

This will largely make the Mac unusable for many business people, since any Windows emulation will be much slower on a non intel CPU.
 

DNMock

Limp Gawd
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
399
Maybe if they get the performance up, which is possible.
I'm a little skeptical at the thought that Apple is gonna design their own CPU from the ground up for a niche product that is superior to what AMD and Intel can.

edit: I think the R&D for a cutting edge CPU is probably getting up to a number similar to the annual gross sales of Macbooks.

I'm all for it if they do it, more competition the better, but unfortunately I have a suspicion that they are just gonna scale up their Iphone processors and slap the them in the macbooks.
 
Last edited:

Elios

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Aug 12, 2004
Messages
7,238
I'm a little skeptical at the thought that Apple is gonna design their own CPU from the ground up for a niche product that is superior to what AMD and Intel can.

nah itll be an evolution of whats in the ipad with a higher TDP and clockspeed
 

IdiotInCharge

NVIDIA SHILL
Joined
Jun 13, 2003
Messages
14,712
I'm a little skeptical at the thought that Apple is gonna design their own CPU from the ground up for a niche product that is superior to what AMD and Intel can.
That's the thing- it isn't from the ground up. They've been working on their CPUs for years, and they're now best-in-class versus Qualcomm/Samsung/Nvidia/MediaTek/others.

I'd say that they're close enough that they could easily scale up to 'desktop-class' performance; the question of software remains.
 

DNMock

Limp Gawd
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
399
That's the thing- it isn't from the ground up. They've been working on their CPUs for years, and they're now best-in-class versus Qualcomm/Samsung/Nvidia/MediaTek/others.

I'd say that they're close enough that they could easily scale up to 'desktop-class' performance; the question of software remains.
So serious question here, if that were the case that an ARM chip could be scaled up to desktop levels performance, which I don't doubt that it can, there has got to be a major drawback to doing so other than on the software side otherwise there would be a push for AMD and Intel to switch to producing ARM processors for desktops, servers, etc. etc. and there doesn't seem to be one that I am aware of.

Also, aren't macbooks generally used for content creation as well necessitating some rather powerful hardware? I just really can't imagine a CPU that was built for a cellphone being able to scale up to handling rendering 4k videos at a dollar/performance ratio comparable to a threadripper CPU
 

Elios

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Aug 12, 2004
Messages
7,238
So serious question here, if that were the case that an ARM chip could be scaled up to desktop levels performance, which I don't doubt that it can, there has got to be a major drawback to doing so other than on the software side otherwise there would be a push for AMD and Intel to switch to producing ARM processors for desktops, servers, etc. etc. and there doesn't seem to be one that I am aware of.

Also, aren't macbooks generally used for content creation as well necessitating some rather powerful hardware? I just really can't imagine a CPU that was built for a cellphone being able to scale up to handling rendering 4k videos at a dollar/performance ratio comparable to a threadripper CPU
software and backwards compatibility is the big issue emulation of x86 would be SUPER slow and useless for any thing other light aps thats the really the only draw back

RISK has the potential to be much faster but your never going to run your old software on it at any real speed for a long time
 

DNMock

Limp Gawd
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
399
software and backwards compatibility is the big issue emulation of x86 would be SUPER slow and useless for any thing other light aps thats the really the only draw back

RISK has the potential to be much faster but your never going to run your old software on it at any real speed for a long time
Ok, so it is viable in a self contained ecosystem like apple has then. I'm actually quite intrigued by the concept now, thanks for correcting me.
 

exlink

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Dec 16, 2006
Messages
4,649
Wouldn't be surprised if they did considering what Apple hardware engineers have accomplished with the A-series chips in the iPhones.
 

cjcox

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jun 7, 2004
Messages
1,746
“The PowerPC G5 changes all the rules. This 64-bit race car is the heart of our new Power Mac G5, now the world’s fastest desktop computer,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “IBM offers the most advanced processor design and manufacturing expertise on earth, and this is just the beginning of a long and productive relationship.”

A little more accurate...

“Our goal is to provide our customers with the best personal computers in the world, and looking ahead Intel has the strongest processor roadmap by far,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “It’s been ten years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel’s technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years.”
 

IdiotInCharge

NVIDIA SHILL
Joined
Jun 13, 2003
Messages
14,712
What a lovely way to convert people to libre office.
I don't see how that will be any more or less different- MS Office is still the business stalwart, and already has OS X Arm releases; same for Adobe products and most anything else, given how Apple has been pushing the iPad Pro.

Ok, so it is viable in a self contained ecosystem like apple has then. I'm actually quite intrigued by the concept now, thanks for correcting me.
One thing to consider is that most heavy code can be better accelerated- anything heavy that's running on x86 that's not there simply because it needs to run really fast and/or is really complex (lots of branching) can be run more efficiently on a dedicated processor. Further consider that x86 is just an interface in modern processors, and has been since the release of the first Pentium. The actual CPUs underneath are themselves RISC designs. Last, consider all of the extensions to x86, starting with x87 for floating point but more notably with MMX and SSE, on through Intel's latest AVX512. These modern extensions are not x86 and their paradigms are replicated by ARM, including in designs from Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, Nvidia, MediaTek, etc.

Essentially, ARM is perfectly suitable for taking care of the base branching code that systems run on, while software support for APIs that access dedicated hardware goes a very long way.

That's why I look at software as being the weak link, not the hardware: Adobe has terrible optimization overall on desktops, and they'll be relied on heavily to get the 'experience' on these ARM Macbooks up to par. It's possible, and they're already part of the way there, but I'm not holding my breath :).
 

DocNo

Gawd
Joined
Apr 23, 2012
Messages
654
If Apple goes towards ARM for their MacBook lineup, then they are throwing in the towel with regard to performance
Thats one of the silliest takes I've seen in a long time. The old iPhone CPUs are faster than what's in the MacBook today.

What just shipped in the iPhone X s is faster than the i5 in my MacBook Air. I don't care about backwards compatibility; I have zero desire to run Windows on my Mac laptops and what software I do use is in active development and Arm versions would be readily forthcoming. It would have zero impact on me for my Mac laptop use. Well, except for providing a faster CPU that runs cooler and could either have better battery life or result in a lighter laptop due to less battery for the same runtime. I don't see Apple ditching Intel on all machines, at least for a while. But so far Apple has been gaining in performance while Intel has been stagnating for some time now - especially in mobile CPUs. Unless Intel get's their crap together I could see ARM catch up to them on desktops too.

Apple has experience managing multiple architectures too, far more than any other computer manufacturer. I was there when we went from Motorola 68K to PowerPC, and then from PowerPC to Intel. OS X has had concurrent multiple architecture support since its origins as NextStep and all of Apple's build chain are already dual architecture since all the iOS devices are ARM.
 

DocNo

Gawd
Joined
Apr 23, 2012
Messages
654
That's why I look at software as being the weak link, not the hardware: Adobe has terrible optimization overall on desktops, and they'll be relied on heavily to get the 'experience' on these ARM Macbooks up to par. It's possible, and they're already part of the way there, but I'm not holding my breath :).
Meh - Adobe just committed to bringing "full" Photoshop to the iPad Pro. They wouldn't be doing that without investing significant expertise in coding for the iPad, which means also coding for ARM.
 

bigddybn

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 21, 2006
Messages
7,195
Port iMessage/Facetime/etc to windows and let the Mac die already. The ecosystem integration is the only good reason to buy one anymore and I'm being generous with "good."
 

IdiotInCharge

NVIDIA SHILL
Joined
Jun 13, 2003
Messages
14,712
But so far Apple has been gaining in performance while Intel has been stagnating for some time now - especially in mobile CPUs.
I'll provide a counter- Intel has, despite being stuck at 14nm, improved clockspeeds, reduced power usage, and increased core-counts for their mobile parts. And with the release of their unplanned 8000- and now 9000-series, they've done that on the desktop too. Where they're really hurting is HEDT, workstation, and server markets, in terms of core-counts, and to a degree efficiency depending on workload.

So if Apple were willing to drop an 8250U into your Macbook Air, as a modern comparison, the performance deficit would still exist.
 

IdiotInCharge

NVIDIA SHILL
Joined
Jun 13, 2003
Messages
14,712
Meh - Adobe just committed to bringing "full" Photoshop to the iPad Pro. They wouldn't be doing that without investing significant expertise in coding for the iPad, which means also coding for ARM.
Sure! And really Lightroom is the big one. The delta between what can be done in Lightroom versus what's still dog slow on a desktop workstation isn't that large, and Adobe is all over the cloud services side of trying to sync that stuff up. Still, it's nice to have the software, and yeah, I expect them to do some development, I just maintain my reservations about performance.
 

pgwalsh

Gawd
Joined
Mar 21, 2005
Messages
694
The big question in my mind is the software.

They had enough trouble getting dev shops to ship for the trash processors they were using before Intel- and everyone had to make that transition. Will companies follow suit?

Maybe if they get the performance up, which is possible.

In any case, I'll keep the 8550U in my ultrabook.
If the developers are using xcode then it's already built in to make the swtich. If they're using something else the hills a bit steeper to climb. Adobe is already committed as you know since they're making a photoshop variant for iPad Pro.
 

Brian_B

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 23, 2012
Messages
3,356
There is no significant reason that has prevented Apple from
Switching at any point in the last 3 years.

Apart from the fact that Macintosh develoment on the whole has been dead.
 

andrewaggb

Limp Gawd
Joined
Oct 6, 2004
Messages
437
It makes a lot of sense to use their own processors but they'll lose some users due to the lack of windows support. Somebody will need to do the math and determine if it's worth it.

I personally think Apple has basically maxed out their IPC. I'm sure they'll have further improvements but I suspect they'll be intel style, ~5-10%. Zen 2 is supposedly closing the IPC gap to less than 10%. The end result will be all 3 vendors having approximately equivalent IPC. Apple is doubling down on caches, cores, etc. Intel and AMD always did that when more IPC was hard to come by.

Though I suppose ARM might be inherently more efficient to the tune of a 20% higher IPC ceiling or something. No idea on that side of things.
 
Last edited:

IdiotInCharge

NVIDIA SHILL
Joined
Jun 13, 2003
Messages
14,712
It makes a lot of sense to use their own processors but they'll lose some users due to the lack of windows support. Somebody will need to do the math and determine if it's worth it.
See their small % of the market? Realize that Windows users are a small % of that?

That's nothing compared to Apple's ability to print money when they control their supply!
 

BloodyIron

2[H]4U
Joined
Jul 11, 2005
Messages
3,439
Modern ms office for OSX is written for x86, it's no small task to re release it for ARM.

I don't see how that will be any more or less different- MS Office is still the business stalwart, and already has OS X Arm releases; same for Adobe products and most anything else, given how Apple has been pushing the iPad Pro.



One thing to consider is that most heavy code can be better accelerated- anything heavy that's running on x86 that's not there simply because it needs to run really fast and/or is really complex (lots of branching) can be run more efficiently on a dedicated processor. Further consider that x86 is just an interface in modern processors, and has been since the release of the first Pentium. The actual CPUs underneath are themselves RISC designs. Last, consider all of the extensions to x86, starting with x87 for floating point but more notably with MMX and SSE, on through Intel's latest AVX512. These modern extensions are not x86 and their paradigms are replicated by ARM, including in designs from Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, Nvidia, MediaTek, etc.

Essentially, ARM is perfectly suitable for taking care of the base branching code that systems run on, while software support for APIs that access dedicated hardware goes a very long way.

That's why I look at software as being the weak link, not the hardware: Adobe has terrible optimization overall on desktops, and they'll be relied on heavily to get the 'experience' on these ARM Macbooks up to par. It's possible, and they're already part of the way there, but I'm not holding my breath :).
 

steakman1971

2[H]4U
Joined
Nov 22, 2005
Messages
2,433
Skeptical. macOS is robust and pretty power hungry. I run Parallels, Docker, Xcode, and several other related apps for my work system. My i7 stays busy.
A few people at the office upgraded to i9's - the extra ram is awesome. The extra cores don't hurt either.
 

IdiotInCharge

NVIDIA SHILL
Joined
Jun 13, 2003
Messages
14,712
Skeptical
Of a desktop implementation? Outside of a new Mini, it's doubtful we'd see such a thing for even longer. You still need desktop-level hardware for many tasks.

The overall point though is that below those tasks, you don't need a desktop CPU ;).
 

Spaceninja

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 15, 2004
Messages
2,030
I'm sure they will still be happy to sell you a $4,000 Mac Pro that is only 4 years out of date if you need to do any real work and like OS X.

I could see them having an ARM notebook for the people who's primary application is Chrome but hate their money.
 

vegeta535

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 19, 2013
Messages
4,519
Honestly with all the engineers Apple has at their disposal I can see them having all essential programs ready for a ARMs desktop Mac. They have was a couple thousand at their disposal?
 
Tags
apple arm tsmc
Top