Tuesday, November 6th 2012

Apple May Ditch Intel for CPUs in Macs, But It's Not Over to AMD

In the coming years, Apple could end its partnership with Intel for supply of CPUs, according to a Bloomberg report, citing Gartner research. The company plans to make a transition from x86 to ARM for its Mac product line, which includes MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, and Mac Mini. Such a transition would be similar to the one Apple took from PowerPC to x86 machine architecture, across 2005-06. According to the report, Apple's engineers are confident of designing an ARM-based chip of their own that's powerful enough for mainstream personal computing on Mac products. Apple's engineers foresee a convergence of technologies between mobile devices (such as the iPhone and iPad), and Macs. Currently, Apple designs its own processors for iOS devices, which are ARM-based.

Source: Bloomberg
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74 Comments on Apple May Ditch Intel for CPUs in Macs, But It's Not Over to AMD

#1
W1zzard
by: Fourstaff
Heavy reliant on single thread, but you can see small improvements in multithreaded processors iirc. That said, ARM cores now comes in 4's, so we can ignore the multicore scaling.
multi core != multi core. i seriously doubt ARM scales anywhere near as well as x86
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#2
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
by: Frick
The speed game is over anyway (for most users). I think tablets/convertibles/AIOs will dominate in the future, hardcore gamers and power users will be regulated to workstations. Pretty much like today but with way less standard desktop setups (which are totally not needed for most people, and people are annoyed with them). Whenever people ask me nowadays what to buy I tell them either laptops or AIOs.
this is very true. GHz is so 2008. It is all about the amount of cores you can stuff on a chip and how little heat it will expend.

hell, even with desktops do you really need anything faster than 3Ghz? not like today's games are that demanding especially since you can spend $150 on a gpu that will play all games at least at your monitors native res.

everything is going mobile so the enthusiasts on this site better baton down the hatches!
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#3
3870x2
If I was on a phone, it would be fair to run, but there are vast differences between phone, mobile, and desktop processors. My (work) computer is a mini desktop computer running a T7500 and gets a 446 on the spiderbench. The A6 gets dangerously close to even this processor, which is far away from being a phone-mobile processor.
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#4
TheMailMan78
Big Member
by: Easy Rhino
this is very true. GHz is so 2008. It is all about the amount of cores you can stuff on a chip and how little heat it will expend.

hell, even with desktops do you really need anything faster than 3Ghz? not like today's games are that demanding especially since you can spend $150 on a gpu that will play all games at least at your monitors native res.

everything is going mobile so the enthusiasts on this site better baton down the hatches!
When mobile catches up to todays speed then we can talk. I agree the future is mobile but mobile speeds equivalent to a 2600K are a LONG way off. But I agree.....its coming.
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#5
brandonwh64
Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!
by: TheMailMan78
When mobile catches up to todays speed then we can talk. I agree the future is mobile but mobile speeds equivalent to a 2600K are a LONG way off. But I agree.....its coming.
They are still trying to defeat the speed/wattage issue. They need to consume about 2-5W MAX before getting too hot. I know when tethering a 1Ghz Snapdragon at stock clocks, it gets VERY warm.
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#6
TheMailMan78
Big Member
by: brandonwh64
They are still trying to defeat the speed/wattage issue. They need to consume about 2-5W MAX before getting too hot. I know when tethering a 1Ghz Snapdragon at stock clocks, it gets VERY warm.
It says "In the coming years" now that I read the OP again. That could mean 10 years from now and by then ARM MIGHT be a viable option. Who knows.

If they go ARM to soon this is what will happen.

1. Generation one will sell like hot cakes and the margins will be epic for Apple.
2. Generation two won't sell near as well. Margins will be ok.
3. Generation three will be right were Apple after the bailout and stay there.

But if they wait a while I could see this as a smart move.
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#7
brandonwh64
Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!
by: TheMailMan78
It says "In the coming years" now that I read the OP again. That could mean 10 years from now and by then ARM MIGHT be a viable option. Who knows.
Could be or probably longer than that if they do not figure out a way to cool it silently. I can see it now...

1st Person: Playing angry birds online with de-das-dude while streaming justin beiber when all of a sudden the heatpipe cooler with attached san ace kicks on full blast to cool the ARM CPU down

2nd Person: What the hell is that???

1st Person: That is my phone cooling down and it also doubles and a hair dryer :)
Posted on Reply
#8
TheMailMan78
Big Member
by: brandonwh64
Could be or probably longer than that if they do not figure out a way to cool it silently. I can see it now...

1st Person: Playing angry birds online with de-das-dude while streaming justin beiber when all of a sudden the heatpipe cooler with attached san ace kicks on full blast to cool the ARM CPU down

2nd Person: What the hell is that???

1st Person: That is my phone cooling down and it also doubles and a hair dryer :)
iBlow
Posted on Reply
#9
3870x2
I bet MM is viewing this thread on his brand new Apple© iPhone© 5©.©
Posted on Reply
#10
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
by: 3870x2
I bet MM is viewing this thread on his brand new Apple© iPhone© 5©.©
I wish I was.
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#11
Octavean
I’m sure Apple is already running OS X on ARM in their labs. When it becomes viable we’ll see retail product.

Personally I don’t much care for design goals that involve making the product as thin as possible. IMO this is the ultimate example of putting form above function and it just comes off as being superficial / ignorant.
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#12
TheMailMan78
Big Member
by: 3870x2
I bet MM is viewing this thread on his brand new Apple© iPhone© 5©.©
Its funny I just got a new iMac from my job last week. i5 2500k with 12 gigs of ram.

Honestly OSX seems long in the tooth now compared to Windows 8. I can boot my PC AFTER I boot my Mac and be to desktop quicker on the PC. But that's for another thread.

Unlike most people on TPU I use both platforms in a production environment.
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#13
phanbuey
by: TheMailMan78
Its funny I just got a new iMac from my job last week. i5 2500k with 12 gigs of ram.

Honestly OSX seems long in the tooth now compared to Windows 8. I can boot my PC AFTER I boot my Mac and be to desktop quicker on the PC. But that's for another thread.

Unlike most people on TPU I use both platforms in a production environment.
OSX is a hog. It runs like crap unless its on SSD. Now that they have a new software guy, hopefully OSX gets a facelift and a diet. Im still using windows 7 on a vm since Im scared windows 8 will break everything.

I can see them going back to RISC architecture down the line - but just for the sake of integration with iphone/ipad? Sounds like the death of the mac.
Posted on Reply
#14
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
by: phanbuey

I can see them going back to RISC architecture down the line - but just for the sake of integration with iphone/ipad? Sounds like the death of the mac.
Which isn't that far fetched.
Posted on Reply
#15
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
by: TheMailMan78
Unlike most people on TPU I use both platforms in a production environment.
I run an Open Directory server for managing our Macs at work. I'm not alone! :p:roll:
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#16
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: W1zzard
I don't see any ARM CPU even remotely close to any decent x86 processor today.

Run Sunspider benchmark in your browser now and compare to ARM below: http://www.webkit.org/perf/sunspider-0.9.1/sunspider-0.9.1/driver.html

http://images.anandtech.com/doci/6309/49915.png

On the other hand, with Moore's Law taken into account, Apple could make an ARM processor that's about a third the performance, at higher price, and people will still buy it -> more money for Apple
Then there's this, ARM Cortex A15 obliterating Atom in near clock-for-clock: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6422/samsung-chromebook-xe303-review-testing-arms-cortex-a15/6
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#18
brandonwh64
Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!
by: james888
My bench...
Kinda odd but I ran the same bench on a P8700 laptop and compared it to yours.

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#19
phanbuey
These are mine - i5 2415M... Maybe they will only convert the macs (not the pro line)... the original reason they switched from PowerPC was because of perf/watt... with Haswell coming out so soon, with high perf x86 and better graphics, it seems unlikely that ARM can match those performance numbers.
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#20
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
This is not a "post your Sunspider results" thread.
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#21
WhiteLotus
by: TheMailMan78
When mobile catches up to todays speed then we can talk. I agree the future is mobile but mobile speeds equivalent to a 2600K are a LONG way off. But I agree.....its coming.
Plus if everything is mobile, then batteries have got a long way to go. I really don't want the habit of having to charge up my devices every night to continue.
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#22
james888
by: btarunr
This is not a "post your Sunspider results" thread.
I hear you. So I made a "Post your sunspider results thread" here
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#23
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
Going ARM in the consumer market is all great and good, but I don't see Apple making that switch. Why? Because they don't just cater to the consumer market. They aren't going to get an ARM processor that can compete in their Mac Pro level of performance. In the consumer area, most Apple customers aren't going to care if there is a slight performance loss as long as the product is sleeker looking. However, in the upper end Mac Pro area, customers are definitely going to care about performance loss. In that area they aren't buying the computers for looks, they are buying them for work, for getting things done.

So the only option would be for Apple to split its desktop market in two. Because the high end machines will have to stay with x86_64 to give the performance professionals need. That would lead to two versions of OSX, an ARM version and a x86_64 version. I don't see Apple doing that. They already have to support iOS, and probably hate it.
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#24
de.das.dude
Pro Indian Modder
by: Easy Rhino
ARM has a lot of advantages, low heat output being one very important one. but don't think intel won't have something that can compete or is better than the ARM arch
by: Fourstaff
Intel is producing CPUs for phones (Medfield and its successors), ARM needs to massively step up their game if they want to displace x86.
true that they are producing CPUs, but they only managed to get an Indian company, lava to use them. Plus these cpus arent that good as i hear from people. battery life is an issue ofcourse.
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#25
bostonbuddy
yeah so apple is going to give up making machines people do real work on(I don't forsee arm being able to run video editing software at speeds comparable to x86 for a long time and thats one of the few feilds where mac still has a foothold) and focus soley on the people who want to play angry birds market?
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