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Intel Hardware Apple

Apple Considering Switch Away From Intel For Macs 530

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-and-what-ARMy dept.
concealment sends this quote from Bloomberg: "Apple Inc. is exploring ways to replace Intel processors in its Mac personal computers with a version of the chip technology it uses in the iPhone and iPad, according to people familiar with the company's research. Apple engineers have grown confident that the chip designs used for its mobile devices will one day be powerful enough to run its desktops and laptops, said three people with knowledge of the work, who asked to remain anonymous because the plans are confidential. Apple began using Intel chips for Macs in 2005."
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Apple Considering Switch Away From Intel For Macs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:35PM (#41899633)

    Apple for a while now has been moving away from performance parts. No real beefy GPU in the Mac Pro. The best GPU in a MBP is an upper-mid tier card. Their server is gone. Its not surprising to see them move more and more away from HPC parts. I'm just a little curious how this will affect people dependent on 'pro-tools' (in the future that is).

  • One Day? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:35PM (#41899637)

    So <insert company name here> is doing research that may or may not ever see the light of day to keep its options open and avoid single-source lock-ins. This is news?

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thammoud (193905) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:35PM (#41899643)

    I can see the switch from PowerPC as IBM and Motorola could not keep up with supplies or advances. To switch from Intel to ARM on PC's will be suicide as performance in PC's far outweigh any negligible benefits in power savings. People using Macs are designers, programmers and heavy users. For those advocating unifying the mobile experience with the desktop, please STOP. I produce content on my desktop. I consume it on my iPad.

  • Dear Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jailbrekr (73837) <jailbrekr@digitaladdiction.net> on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:38PM (#41899699) Homepage

    The only reason why I have a Mac Mini is because you are running a modified version of UNIX. This pleases me. But be forewarned: If your future plans include replacing BSD UNIX with your shitass iOS, I am so fucking gone. Your shitty phones are already on my do not buy list, and I have no qualms with dumping your PCs.

  • by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:45PM (#41899825) Homepage Journal

    Linux works fine on ARM.

    Not on a device whose bootloader cryptographically prevents you from installing it.

  • Re:Only Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:47PM (#41899857) Journal

    As critical as I am of Apple on occasion, I see this as a smart idea. Staying limber by making sure your kernel and toolset can compile on multiple platforms only makes sense. It's a wonder that, four decades after Unix lead the path to portability, now commercial outfits like Apple and Microsoft are seeing the value as well (well, to be fair, MS saw the value back in the early 1990s but guys like DEC and MIPS priced their stuff into the stratosphere thus guaranteeing x86's continued dominance).

  • by SirDrinksAlot (226001) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:51PM (#41899921) Journal

    I'm totally not going to do it again.
    68k to PPC was a disaster, applications that didn't need to be just PPC were just PPC. Everyone who had a recent 68k at the time was boned very quickly. If it wasn't for CodeWarrior (I loved the sh*t out of that back in the day) that transition would have been even more disastrous.
    PPC to x86 Apple just turned around and spit in everyone's [existing ppc userbase] face. They promised more updates that they never delivered and the patches they pushed out just made the platform slower and slower. My PowerBook would run like greased lightning with a clean OS install, HD videos and the works. Let MacOS update it self and it suddenly grew 10 years older with a few patches. I did try formatting it and starting from scratch but it ended up with the exact same behavior.

    I'm not going through another architecture migration because Apple just doesn't care about their existing user base, they already have their money.

    My current iMac x86 doesn't have firmware to reinstall the OS, so after the HDD failed I found I was totally screwed. The Apple store I visited told me I would have to purchase apple care to reinstall MacOS since it's now physical media free (I already had a new drive in it). After this attempt to bend me over, I'm not taking another slap to the face.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:52PM (#41899955)

    The air has an i5, what ARM chip competes with that?

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:53PM (#41899967)
    According to Ars Technica, Apple's R&D budget is 3.4 BILLION dollars [arstechnica.com] (3.4x10^9). That's enough money to "explore" all kinds of crazy stuff. Just because they're spending money looking into something, doesn't make it part of their business plan.
  • Re:Hey Apple, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bryansix (761547) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:53PM (#41899985) Homepage
    Seriously. Like we need another set of hardware stuck on some unsupported version of OS X.
  • by guidryp (702488) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:53PM (#41899989)

    ARM chips are still slower than the PowerPC chips Apple moved away from in 2005.

    This is rumor is pure BS.

    2013 is bringing out an all new OOO execution Intel Atom core on 22nm process. Intel might start dominating Android phones leading to next years rumor that Apple will be moving iOS to Intel.

    I don't see either move as likely in the foreseeable future. Beyond that is pure 100% BS.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @04:59PM (#41900065)

    Even that probably would not be enough to win if floating point performance was needed.

    You would also be a huge disadvantage for anything that is difficult or plain impossible to to parralelize.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:00PM (#41900087) Journal

    That assumes that there are machines with unlocked bootloaders available. That may not always be the case. If Microsoft decides to apply the same terms to Windows on x86 that it is on ARM, that would pretty much destroy the market for general purpose computers. You'll probably be able to get one, but at a higher price, and you won't be able to run Windows on it.

    That's the optimistic scenario. The pessimistic scenario is that once the general public doesn't need general purpose computers, they'll be classified as hacking tools and prohibited for anyone who isn't licensed. Sort of the way that lock pick tools are illegal for those without a locksmithing license.

  • Re:One Day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:04PM (#41900139)
    Where you see a walled garden, I see a prison.
  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:05PM (#41900161)

    Note the "will one day be powerful enough". I read that as "in 2-5 years we may have something that can compete with laptop or desktop-grade Intel products". From what I understand, and IANACE (I am not a Computer Engineer), there's nothing inherently holding the ARM architecture back from being able to scale up to the sorts of computational performance we see out of Intel's processors, albeit, at the cost of its energy efficiency (of course, it's not there now, but it could be in a few years). Similarly, an Intel exec said a few weeks back that there's nothing technological holding Intel back from being able to scale down to where we see ARM's processors.

    That said, Intel doesn't want to do that, since the profit margins are much lower for mobile processors than they are for desktop-grade processors. Yet the danger for them is that the ARM architecture will be scaled up, allowing it to expand into the much more lucrative end of the market, thus pushing them out. That'd be the end for Intel if that sort of thing was allowed to happen. And Apple is in a good position to try something like that.

    More importantly and more relevantly to these rumors, I read this whole report as leverage in negotiations with Intel. Credibly scaring the seller into thinking they'll lose your business is a great way to get better prices or other concessions (e.g. early or exclusive access) out of them. Apple is probably content to stay with Intel for as long as Intel is supplying chips that meet Apple's expectations and can do so at reasonable prices. But Apple also wants to hedge its bets in case Intel folds at some point or they're not keeping up with the pace of development that Apple would like to see. Having the ability to run OS X on ARM may very well just be a safety measure in that vein.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:06PM (#41900171) Homepage Journal

    Remember numeric co-processors?

    That's now why you have a GPU.

    Float away, baby.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:09PM (#41900215) Homepage Journal

    I meant "68040". :-)

  • by Thud457 (234763) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:12PM (#41900281) Homepage Journal

    Where you see a walled garden, I see a prison.

    Where you see a prison, I see an zombie-proof enclave.

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3NO@SPAMjustconnected.net> on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:13PM (#41900285)

    Of course it's already compiled; they've had the OSX kernel and most of the userspace running on ARM since 2007 with the iPhone.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:14PM (#41900293) Homepage

    > For the tasks most people want a computer for (or think they want a computer for) an ARM-based solution could work just as well as an x86 based one.

    No, not really. Not at all. This isn't apparent with things like the iPad because it's a tightly controlled and heavily curated experience. You don't realize you're running on a throwback from the 90s because you aren't allowed to do anything that might make that obvious.

    Thinking you can depend on multiple cores has it's own problems and inherent engineering challenges even if you assume that all Mac software has already been modified to accommodate this (which isn't even true).

  • by Type44Q (1233630) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:19PM (#41900369)
    Nothing to write home about, either.
  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:23PM (#41900439)

    that would pretty much destroy the market for general purpose computers.

    It would destroy Microsoft's position on the market for general purpose computers.

    Sort of the way that lock pick tools are illegal for those without a locksmithing license.

    Wow, you must live in some fucked up country. I would think that those willing to pick locks while committing a crime wouldn't give a shit about licenses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:26PM (#41900493)

    So? Intel's is 10 billion [semimd.com], and it's much more focused on CPU development than Apple's R&D budget.

  • by Architect_sasyr (938685) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:28PM (#41900513)
    Completely un thread related - if they seriously fed you that line of bullshit, make a complaint, the bastards get away with this crap far too often. If your iMac didn't come with system disks (i.e. it came with Lion/ Mountain Lion) they should have been able to show you the command+option+r internet based recovery system - no need to purchase more of their shit.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:29PM (#41900529) Journal

    It would destroy Microsoft's position on the market for general purpose computers.

    Microsoft doesn't care about general purpose computers, they care about windows boxes.

    Wow, you must live in some fucked up country.

    It varies from state to state. In some states, mere possession [lockwiki.com] of lockpicks is considered evidence of intent to burglarize .

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:30PM (#41900547)

    OS X applications are still single threaded, like 99% of all applications. You ever tried writing code for multi-core? Thought not.

    Between GCD and blocks and various graphics frameworks, any modern Mac (or iOS) developer has been writing for multiple cores for years now. It's just that most of the tricky work is hidden away.

    Developers? What OS X developers!?

    Well first of all there are the 500k+ iOS developers, who run on Macs. And then there are hordes of Ruby/UNIX/Java developers, who often use Macs to develop on.

    Perhaps you just meant "what developers are writing apps for OS X". I guess someone is, since there are thousands of apps on the OS X App Store now...

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TellarHK (159748) <tellarhk.hotmail@com> on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:35PM (#41900623) Homepage Journal

    Let's see, what do most users do with computers? Browse the web, read and reply to email, shop, manage photos and maybe videos if they've got kids, and maybe do some light office and bookkeeping work.

    Okay, tell me how the iPad isn't enough for that.

    Yes, it's a controlled and curated experience. But Apple has sold more of those controlled, curated, locked down experiences in just the last 4 years than they have ever sold in Macintosh computers. Don't forget that you are not the market Apple is aiming for. You're the market that WISHES Apple was aiming for it, because if they were, then we'd see some pretty astounding products on the shelf. Instead, we get products priced to move by the tens of millions to the people who don't know RAM from storage space. And they are _selling_.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by farble1670 (803356) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:37PM (#41900649)

    You can get 64 quad-core A9s for less power than a single Intel. 256 cores at over 1GHz will be much more processing power than the Intel solution.

    sure, if you have a compute job that perfectly parallelizes across 256 cores ... such a job doesn't exist in end user computing. the average PC struggles to find a way to use 4 cores let alone 256.

  • by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:38PM (#41900673)

    considering the number of windows zombies out there as a percentage of overall machines compared to OSX zombies out there to their number of machines

    your quite right.

    iphone has more visibility, more overall users and has been out longer than android, yet less viruses.

    Sometimes just preventing people from sticking their head in the flames to see if their hair burns is a good idea.

  • by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:44PM (#41900765)
    Agreed. That leaves the question... Is the market for software/computers that need x86 big enough that it makes sense for Apple to worry about it?
  • Re:Hey Apple, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:45PM (#41900769) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like a win-win for Apple. They don't have to pay for Intel, and all their users are forced to upgrade to new hardware. And all the OSX software vendors get to sell new versions of their software for the new platform.

  • by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:47PM (#41900795)
    Where you see a zombie-proof enclave, I see a prison that is only 1 bi(y)te away from being overrun.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @05:55PM (#41900901)
    Or as stated by Jeff Bezos (founder and CEO of amazon.com): "People want services, not gadgets."

    Frankly I think Richard Stallman looks more and more like a prophet every year. (And I doubt Jesus or Moses' personal hygene was especially good, either).

  • Re:Hey Apple, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @06:49PM (#41901401)
    And no dual boot, and they can continue with the plan to make OSX into desktop iOS, complete with walled garden.
  • by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @07:06PM (#41901575)
    What you (don't) see as a reasonable compromise, most people don't see at all.
  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @07:52PM (#41902041)

    I can see the switch from PowerPC as IBM and Motorola could not keep up with supplies or advances. To switch from Intel to ARM on PC's will be suicide as performance in PC's far outweigh any negligible benefits in power savings.

    It wont be suicide for Apple, their customers will keep buying Apple products because they are finacially and psycologically locked in. No matter what Apple does to them to screw them over they'll keep coming back. Hell, they'll even defend the abuse.

    People using Macs are designers, programmers and heavy users.

    Hahahahahaha,

    No.

    A lot of designers, especially web designers have moved to Windows based PC's. Programmers who use Mac's use Windows on Mac. Mac's are not for heavy use (which is why a $1000 macbook only comes with an Intel IGM).

    Hipsters buy Mac's, not heavy users. People buy Mac's because they hate windows, not because Mac's are any better (in fact, given the limited and overpriced hardware choices, they are a lot worse).

    I've been predicting that Apple will switch to ARM for laptops for some time now and OSX will be depreciated into IOS. The biggest difference between an Ipad and a Desktop Mac in the future will be the OS feature set. This is to say, they'll run the same OS but you'll pay more for options like an IDE. You wont be able to run it on feature limited version of the OS.

  • I really should write a simple Slashdot reply app, sideload it to my* Surface RT, and use it just so I can truthfully say "written on a sideloaded app on Surface RT" in the posts. It's completely possible to sideload on the RT. I don't know why people keep parroting this BS claim that it's not; that's trivially disprovable if you actually try using one for the minute or so that it takes to enable sideloading plus install a sideloaded app.

    * Purchased by my company for research and training purposes. We're a computer security firm, and are expected to keep on top of new systems. They also recently bought iPads, Nexus 7 tablets, and various smartphones; I imagine other Android tablets will follow soon probably including Kindle Fire.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @11:48PM (#41903521)

    The vast majority of Ruby, Unix and Java developers work on non-Apple hardware

    All I can say is, you go to no technical conferences and you have obviously never met a Ruby developer.

    Ruby Mac use is so pervasive in fact, that the Ruby guys built extensions to program mac (and iOS) apps in Ruby...

    Unix developers in particular have almost completely abandoned Mac because Apple have made it too difficult to get Linux running on there.

    On the other hand most UNIX users have moved to the Mac because they do not NEED to get Linux running on it. You already have a solid UNIX base, it's not like Cygwin or some other faux substitute.

    Good luck with those delusions, which match not at all with easily observable fact or laptop sales figures (which is what most developers use these days, not that you would no that either).

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