Thursday, April 23rd 2020

Apple Rumored to Launch New Mac in 2021 with 5 nm A14 SoC, x86 no More

In a recent report by Bloomberg it was revealed that Apple is planning to start selling Mac computers featuring their upcoming in-house A14 ARM chip which will power the next generation iPhone & iPad in 2021. According to sources familiar with the matter Apple is developing three new processors based on the A14 to power some 2021 Mac products, these chips will be manufactured on TSMCs 5 nm process. One of these new processors is expected to be more powerful then the iPhone version.

This marks a significant move for Apple as they shift from x86 to in-house ARM designs across their entire product lineup, we have an editorial on the rise of ARM here. This development is part of Apple's plan to increase control over their products in an attempt to fully unify the Apple ecosystem and reduce reliance on Intel who has struggled to offer significant performance increases in recent years, this will come as a major blow to Intel who benefited greatly from Apple's demand. Apple will need to adapt MacOS for an ARM based design and ensure their is compatibility for third party x86 applications. The first processor is expected to feature 8 "Firestorm" cores and at least four energy-efficient "Icestorm" cores, Apple is also exploring options for up to 12 core processors based on the same design for use in future Macs.
Source: Bloomberg
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10 Comments on Apple Rumored to Launch New Mac in 2021 with 5 nm A14 SoC, x86 no More

#1
mtcn77
There is some confusion with the title. Is the custom the chip, or the node it is coming from?
Either TSMC made a custom node available to Apple, or Apple outdid itself which is true by default.
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#2
theonek
so basically you will buy a phone with bigger screen which resembles a laptop....
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#3
PanicLake
I wonder what will became of all those professional that are using x86 software and plugins (like audio VSTs).
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#4
Fourstaff
PanicLake
I wonder what will became of all those professional that are using x86 software and plugins (like audio VSTs).
Apple has some experience when they moved from PowerPC to x86, I think they will be prepared.
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#5
PanicLake
Fourstaff
Apple has some experience when they moved from PowerPC to x86, I think they will be prepared.
Unfortunately several hundred of Audio plugins (VSTs or AU) are not developed/maintained by Apple, I foresee a big move to Windows by Music producers.
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#6
Thefumigator
PanicLake
Unfortunately several hundred of Audio plugins (VSTs or AU) are not developed/maintained by Apple, I foresee a big move to Windows by Music producers.
Moving from PowerPC to x86-64.... and now moving to another arch... doesn't look too smart in my opinion

I do music production on an iPad mini 2, and while I was skeptical at first, it did surprise me a lot, on every aspect: software availability for music prod, performance, sound quality, etc.
I just keep my windows desktop computer for the rest, like FL studio and so on.

But anyway... Unless that apple chip has some kind of x86 extensions (which would need the signing of an agreement to do so) or some kind of emulation layer (slower performance), I don't think it will be strong enough to replace a x86-64 chip.

Its all about costs too, having a powerful chip available in house would be much cheaper to include in a mac computer, much cheaper than including an intel chip. Way more cheaper. However, I would go Ryzen if that was the case.
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#7
bonehead123
Well 1st, I do not consider myself an Apple "fanboi", but rather an enthusiast who enjoys using and seeing technology at it's best, and understands most of the hurdles involved in achieving the many advances that have come our way in the past 40+ years.

So before this topic goes too far one way or the other, whether you like Apple or you don't, you should give them some respect for their massive undertakings and what they accomplished with their move from the AIM/powerpc/macOS realm to X86-64 and everything in between....

Yea I know they have made some really dick moves during that transition and in recent years, but still, they endured through all of it and have become a massive commercial & financial powerhouse, all while losing several key people from the early years, as well as their co-founders and ceo....

And having had past experience with Apple's hardware & software ecosystem, I know that, just like the Russians in The Hunt For Red October, "they don't take a dump without a plan" ..;)..:laugh:..:eek:

So hold onto your hats, 'cause when this change happens, you won't wanna be caught without one....
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#8
holyprof
PanicLake
I wonder what will became of all those professional that are using x86 software and plugins (like audio VSTs).
They will keep selling x86 based laptops for some years I guess. Old architecture will be phased out slowly. The first ARM based laptops should be the thin and light low-spec ones. Replacing a full product line would be risky.
Or maybe not. Apple could say "screw the customer" (they've done it in the past) and swap the entire next generation to ARM. We'll see.
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#9
RandallFlagg
Usually what this kind of article comes down to is that Apple hedges its bets, always. From what I can tell they have had OS X compiling on their ARM SOCs for years, just in case they need to switch for some reason.

So every once in a while, some journalist or investor who doesn't know that comes in and speculates and creates another round of rumors. Happens at least twice a year.
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#10
Darmok N Jalad
PanicLake
Unfortunately several hundred of Audio plugins (VSTs or AU) are not developed/maintained by Apple, I foresee a big move to Windows by Music producers.
It depends. Apple just launched a revised Mac Pro, so I don't see them abandoning x86 entirely in that product's life cycle. The other question would be, what makes more sense for software companies if Apple swaps to ARM? Maybe Apple has a trick up its sleeve for the creative professionals. Just look at the Afterburner card, which makes video encoding apparently ridiculously fast. I think that this is where Apple is heading--yes, ARM will drive the core, but they've already started inserting their own architecture in Macs in various places, like the T2 chip. I'm very curious to hear what their "Pro" strategy is. Apple makes a great mobile chip, with great CPU and GPU performance, but how will this scale into desktop space? Can they still pair it with AMD graphics, or are they going to make their own GPUs too?
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