View Full Version : Viability of a ARM/Intel Hybrid?

Dec 29, 2012, 02:12 AM
This idea was inspired by the article on Apple possibly using a new processor platform for their next line of macbooks.

We know that their higher-end laptops have been using 2 graphics systems to balance power consumption with performance (discrete and integrated graphics).

How feasible would a macbook utilising both intel and ARM processors be? It could use ARM for less intensive tasks like surfing the web (say, using mobile Safari) to cut down on power usage. It would then switch over to intel for more intensive tasks like photoshop.

Likewise, the inclusion of ARM could mean that IOS apps can run on macs. Whether they run properly is another issue though (I imagine apps designed to operate via a touchscreen might need to be redesigned for a keyboard/trackpad interface), but it would certainly increase the versatility of the mac platform dramatically.

What would the possible hurdles and challenges to such an approach be? :confused:

Dec 29, 2012, 05:39 AM
I imagine the difficulty would be switching between the two as they both run different code (X86 vs ARM) - I suppose you could dual boot into ARM OsX but then that isn't fluid if you have to restart when you want a little more power.

Back in the PPC days I would have said ARM was more realistic for Macs, but I can't see Apple leaving Intel anytime soon, its not like they are promising to hit 3.0Ghz in two years and not hit it. Intel even custom designed their first MacBook Air chip just for Apple, they are doing a better job than IBM was with the G5.

Dec 29, 2012, 06:55 AM
More than the technical challenges of this, I would ask myself WHY they would do this. They've been pushing for years to get the GPU with the CPU with Intel, and when it starts being reasonably good for many tasks, they will throw that away?

It doesn't really make any sense, and neither does using Atom processors. All the note said was a change in platform, not architecture. They're simply switching to Haswell...

Dec 29, 2012, 07:29 AM
A hybrid mode would need to be seamless to the user; no bootcamp/dual boot; that would be boring.

For that a requirement is that the screen need to get touch-enabled (or an equivalent gesture recognition)

between ARM mode and Intel mode you can switch with a simple swipe left/right. The ARM mode could be alternative also inside a window in Intel mode visible for a transparent dual use.


They're simply switching to Haswell...

Most properly true ... :o

Dec 29, 2012, 09:31 AM
Well, the issue with intel is that all competitors get access to the same technology at the same time. I was thinking that a custom processor could allow Apple to differentiate their products more, as well as time their mac releases to better suit the market.

For instance, if we know that haswell will be ready only in September, this means no new macs before then, and once competitors get wind of the keynote date, they may try to pre-empt Apple by announcing their own new products before this date. With custom chips, Apple can buck this trend by announcing refreshed models much earlier, using designs that would otherwise be useless to other companies.