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Old May 25, 2014, 11:42 PM   #1
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Apple Testing ARM Based Mac Prototypes with Large Magic Trackpad?




French site MacBidouille revives rumors that Apple is actively developing ARM processor based Macs. According to a source that they describe as reliable, Apple has prototypes of several ARM-based machines, including an iMac, Mac mini, and 13" Notebook with 4-8 64-bit ARM Quad-core processors.

These machines are reportedly far along in development, and come with a new keyboard that incorporates a large-format Magic Trackpad. Apple might even be ready for an announcement but is reportedly hesitant to make the move.

MacBidouille isn't a frequent source of rumors, so its hard to gauge its source's credibility, but rumors of ARM-based Macs have been circulating for years. It seems likely that Apple has prototyped such devices, but many have doubted the feasibility of moving forward with such a plan.

The first inklings of such a plan might have come when Apple threatened to abandon Intel's chips if they didn't work to slash power consumption. While AMD might have been one way to go for Apple, the first rumors of an Apple migration from Intel to ARM processors appeared earlier that year. Later, a report claimed that Apple already had an ARM (A5) powered MacBook Air in their labs back in 2011.

An analysis in 2012 suggested that Apple shifting from Intel to ARM wasn't implausible but it faced several hurdles. The most significant one was Apple's own ARM chips being able to keep a pace with Intel's future roadmap.

Apple, however, has been making great strides in performance in their ARM processors. The A7 is described as desktop class even in an independent analysis. In fact, the A7 chip is currently being underutilized in Apple's iPhone and iPad devices, leaving some of its power untapped.

Article Link: Apple Testing ARM Based Mac Prototypes with Large Magic Trackpad?
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:44 PM   #2
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I really hope that this isn't true.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:44 PM   #3
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I think the Magic Trackpad is big enough but i wouldn't mind a bigger one
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:45 PM   #4
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LOL. Apple tests lots of things. Even if that were true that doesn't mean that any such product will be shipping any time soon, if ever. It never hurts for Apple to have an alternative to Intel available if required.

Switching to ARM would be problematic for Apple as it would carry the chance of falling behind Intel in performance. Don't get me wrong, Apple has done great things with ARM, but that's different from saying they can take on Intel's strongest offerings and win in the long term. Furthermore, switching to ARM would require a recompile of all apps for max performance. Judging by the people who still whine about Rosetta being removed, there's a lot of people who use obsolete apps that aren't updated. Would this stop a switch? No, but it would give Apple pause, and it would make it impossible to switch back and forth depending on who's ahead.

Last edited by proline; May 25, 2014 at 11:50 PM.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:45 PM   #5
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Please no. I can't take another processor transition...
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:46 PM   #6
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please.. just please no!!
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:47 PM   #7
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It will happen

It is clear to me that an ARM-based laptop will happen. Timing is everything and will only be introduced when it is ready. In this date and age, it doesn't make sense to have laptops that still get so hot. ARM solves that issue.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:47 PM   #8
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To be honest, this move wouldn't surprise me at all. Whether it's a good or bad move is another story.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:47 PM   #9
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I see ARM-based MacBooks facing some of the very same hurdles as Surface RT products. Mainly, what apps would run on one, besides Apple applications? Unless an emulator was provided, but that would be inefficient as hell in terms of battery consumption.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:48 PM   #10
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It worked so well for MS, why not /s
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:49 PM   #11
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Apple did something like this with PowerPC long ago, and it held up quite well over time. Right now, people aren't looking for performance anymore. We already have it. What the mainstream user wants is a cooler, quieter, battery-friendly computer.

The risk here is apple making a chromebook. If they do what they did during the PPC days, and can get developers on their side, which is plausible considering people are leaving intel due to costs, they will have a great low-priced product that would be perfectly fine for many of their customers.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:49 PM   #12
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They would make for great computers, but it's probably a bad idea to make such a radical transition again unless absolutely necessary. I just don't see what is so bad about Intel that it warrants a switch.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:50 PM   #13
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I see what apple did! Introduced an ARM "desktop class" chip in the 5S. So when the time is right they can switch to ArM in their computers.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:50 PM   #14
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I get the feeling the rumored 12" Retina MacBook Air may be the first ARM-based model seeing a how it's supposedly too thin for a clickable trackpad. A device that thin would require a cooler and more efficient processor.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:50 PM   #15
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I have no problem with this whatsoever. They are simply testing ARM based Macs and will ultimately make a decision based on what their tests say about the viability and ease-of-use of this set up.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:52 PM   #16
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Dual boot Windows RT BOOYAH!
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:52 PM   #17
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It may happen in the future, but we aren't close to have similar performance between Apple's A series iOS chips and Intel's mainline i3-i7 chips - it'd be too big a gulf to bridge at this point.

Give it another 5 - 10 years though…at this point I think it'd be way too much of a sacrifice in performance to work for the Mac brand. JMHO..
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:54 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by scottwaugh View Post
It may happen in the future, but we aren't close to have similar performance between Apple's A series iOS chips and Intel's mainline i3-i7 chips - it'd be too big a gulf to bridge at this point.

Give it another 5 - 10 years though…at this point I think it'd be way too much of a sacrifice in performance to work for the Mac brand. JMHO..
The article mentioned 4-8 quadcore ARM chips. I have no idea if that makes up the difference or not. But would be nice to have a laptop that doesn't get so hot and noisy.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:54 PM   #19
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It wouldn't surprise me because the trend has been moving toward Apple supplying more of its own components for its most popular device lines (AX, MX, etc.) but I wonder just how smooth a transition it would really be on the user end for a lot of people. I also love being able to dualboot Windows 8 for some things on my MacBook Pro and I definitely count that as a plus, so there would be at least one big bonus capability out the window for me and a lot of others.

What is their ostensible reason for doing this? Would it make a substantial dent in the price points for these machines if they were to nix Intel for their own chipset?
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:54 PM   #20
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If they can do their dynamic translation magic like they have in the past, nobody will care - especially if it comes with a lower price.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:55 PM   #21
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Apple could consider AMD's K12 for future Macbook Airs so that they don't need to leave x86 until ARM catches up in performance. It won't be soon, since K12 isn't expected until 2016.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:57 PM   #22
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Why not a big iPad with attached (or detachable) keyboard?
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:58 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
I get the feeling the rumored 12" Retina MacBook Air may be the first ARM-based model seeing a how it's supposedly too thin for a clickable trackpad. A device that thin would require a cooler and more efficient processor.
I had the exact same reaction when I read this article. If the 12" "Macbook Air" even exists and is indeed fan-less, it almost definitely use an ARM-based processor. I've always had a hunch that this Macbook Air is actually an iPad with a keyboard.
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Old May 25, 2014, 11:59 PM   #24
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For many cases that might be enough computer; like for my wife: Safari, Twitter, email, iTunes. That's it. For her a lower power MBArm is nice.

For me: not enough power (I fear): I need Xcode, VMware, FCP, raw file processing, ....

Important would be that Apple keeps enough hardware with Intel chips for power users. MBP, iMac, MB.

The MBA and mini they could be split up in ARM and intel, if they like.
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Old May 26, 2014, 12:05 AM   #25
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A big reason I switched to a Apple is because I could dual boot windows (and run it in a VM at basically native speed). As much as I like OSX, most of my work still requires windows, so if they switched to ARM, I'd be switching back to PCs
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