Tag Archive for ‘ARM’

Speculation and Dread for the Next Transition ➝

Riccardo Mori, in reference to Andy Ihnatko’s piece on the rumored transition of Macs to ARM:

I have to reiterate just how silly and disheartening all the recent treatment of the Mac has become. That it’s inadequate, and has to be phased out, is just empty talk by all-too-eager iOS-only pundits. Obviously, everyone is free to use what’s best for them and speak about their preferences, but things like The Mac is too cumbersome and difficult to use, or that it’s inadequate for modern tasks, or that iOS is a superior platform are very subjective opinions, and not statements of facts. It’s also a bit hypocritical to invite Mac users to be more open-minded towards iOS as a professional tool, while iOS-only proponents aren’t similarly inclined to maybe get to know the Mac better before dismissing it as inadequate and awkward. As I’ve previously, repeatedly said, this iOS vs. Mac OS debate is toxic; Mac OS doesn’t need to be put aside to make iOS shine. It’s not a zero-sum game.

This insistence that, between iOS and Mac OS, ‘only one shall prevail’ is so misplaced. Both platforms have a specific kind of versatility and a specific set of strengths. If you ask me, the smart position is Better both worlds than the best of both worlds — but both worlds need to be taken care equally. Currently, that doesn’t seem to be happening, with the Mac losing ground, and Apple executives not giving very strong signals that they love the Mac as much as they say they do. This rumoured next transition will be crucial and revealing in this regard. As Ihnatko concludes, either Apple has a big, revolutionary plan in store for the Mac, or it’s preparing for the last season of Mac OS.

iOS may be my preferred platform, but I certainly don’t want to see Macs to go away.

Apple Said to Work on Mac Chip That Would Lessen Intel Role ➝

Mark Gurman and Ian King, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple engineers are planning to offload the Mac’s low-power mode, a feature marketed as “Power Nap,” to the next-generation ARM-based chip. This function allows Mac laptops to retrieve e-mails, install software updates, and synchronize calendar appointments with the display shut and not in use. The feature currently uses little battery life while run on the Intel chip, but the move to ARM would conserve even more power, according to one of the people.

The current ARM-based chip for Macs is independent from the computer’s other components, focusing on the Touch Bar’s functionality itself. The new version in development would go further by connecting to other parts of a Mac’s system, including storage and wireless components, in order to take on the additional responsibilities.

First the Touch Bar and potentially Power Nap in the near-future, how much of the Mac’s functionality will eventually be taken over by ARM chips?

‘Apple Could Use Custom x86 SoC Made by AMD’ ➝

Gian Maria Forni, writing for Bits and Chips:

According to our sources, Apple is pondering about using custom x86 CPUs in its next iMacs and MacBooks, during 2017-2018. Nowadays it’s hard to avoid the use of x86 ISA in high end and professional personal computers, but at the same time Intel CPUs are too expensive if we compare these with ARM SoCs.

So, Apple’s target is to realize a complete x86 custom SoC family, like Sony and Microsoft did with their consoles. AMD is the perfect partner to do this.

This rumor was published back in October of last year, but John Gruber linked to it a couple of days ago.

There’s a lot of interesting things happening in the world of CPUs. Intel licensing ARM technology and attempting to take over the manufacturing of Apple’s A-series processors, the massive gap between Mac hardware iterations which was at least partly due to delays in Intel’s latest generation of CPUs, and the aforelinked rumor that Apple might be working with AMD on custom x86 SoCs. To name a few.

This is exactly the kind of rumors I enjoy, though. It hearkens back to the early days of my technology enthusiasm, when AMD was first to market with 64-bit and dual-core processors. And, perhaps this is just wishful thinking, but I have a strange feeling that we’ll be learning more about all this within the next six months.

Intel Aims to Challenge TSMC Over Apple Chip Orders By 2018 ➝

Cheng Ting-Fang, reporting for Nikkei Asian Review:

Intel’s recent pledge to expand its business making chips for others highlights its ambition to snatch chip orders for Apple’s popular iPhones from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. as early as 2018, industry experts said.

Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker by revenue, announced earlier this month that it will license technology from British mobile chip designer ARM with the aim of securing more business from smartphone companies. LG Electronics will become the first smartphone company to adopt Intel chips following the ARM deal.

If Intel wants to become the premier ARM processor manufacturer, Apple is the customer they need to have.

Intel Licenses ARM Technology ➝

Ian King, reporting for Bloomberg:

Intel Corp., the world’s biggest semiconductor maker, said it’s licensing technology from rival ARM Holdings Plc, a move to win more customers for its business that manufactures chips for other companies.

The two chipmakers, whose designs and technology dominate in computing and mobile, unveiled the agreement Tuesday at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The accord will let Intel offer third-party semiconductor companies its most advanced 10-nanometer production lines for manufacturing the complex chips usually used in smartphones.

This piece doesn’t come right out and say it, but it sounds like Intel is planning to design their own ARM processors in addition to manufacturing other companies’ chip designs. If that’s the case, I could see Intel becoming the premier maker of ARM processors within just a few years.

At ARM’s Length ➝

Jesper discusses the options Apple has for transitioning their Mac lineup to ARM processors.

Apple’s Intel Problem ➝

Stephen Hackett on Apple’s potential move away from Intel toward ARM-based processors for their Macs:

In short, Apple’s ARM-based A7 isn’t a good choice for a MacBook Air at this point. While I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility for Apple to ship a slower notebook if the tradeoffs were right, but that current performance gap isn’t enough to justify the possible gain in Cupertino’s beloved performance per watt metric.

Apple is reliant on Intel delivering processors in a timely manner. Intel’s Broadwell processor delays are very likely impacting Apple’s release plans for Macs. It’s one thing for their to be delays of a few months, but these new Intel chips were originally set to enter production in late 2013. Now the processors that Apple is assumed to have plans for might not be ready until July 2015. That’s a far cry from what anyone would consider “reasonable delays.”

But, what strikes me about this recent news is how quickly tech reporters have jumped on this idea that Apple would switch to ARM-based processors rather than use Intel’s x86 chips.

Stephen Hackett does a great job laying out some of the reasons Apple is unlikely to switch in his aforelinked piece on 512 Pixels. But, why would Apple switch from Intel to ARM-based processors when they could switch to AMD? I certainly don’t think either switch is going to happen — at least not in the near-term. But, AMD seems like a much more likely candidate to supply chips to Apple than Apple making a switch to an entirely different architecture for their Macs.

Not only would Apple avoid all of the headaches associated with making another major switch in processor technologies, but they’d be able to work with an underdog with something to prove. And, Apple would have a lot more room to bully AMD around than they currently do with Intel.

I certainly don’t have any room to talk when it comes to the performance differences between AMD and Intel processors (that’s a topic for 18-year-old me during the days when AMD was eating Intel’s lunch in performance and Intel’s chips were pushing 4GHz clock speeds). But, I certainly find the notion of Apple switching from Intel to AMD far more believable than Apple moving to ARM processors for their Macs.