Apple Testing an ARM (A5) Powered MacBook Air?

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 27, 2011.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001


    Mac Otakara claims that Apple is presently testing an A5 powered MacBook Air.
    The A5 processor is an ARM-based processor that Apple uses in the iPad 2. Mac Otakara is uncertain what operating system this experimental machine was running. They also add that Quanta Computer manufactured this test-drive machine.

    This news comes weeks after another rumor claiming that Apple is planning on transitioning from Intel to ARM-based processors on their laptops in the not too distant future. Most people had dismissed that rumor due to the compatibility issues that would be introduced with such a transition. Another major issue is that while ARM processors are more power efficient, they presently offer significantly lower performance than their Intel counterparts.

    The Japanese blog has had some accurate information in the past, being the first to describe some of the new physical characteristics of the iPad 2. It is certainly plausible that Apple might be testing such combinations in their labs, though its unclear if/when Apple might actually decide to introduce such a machine.

    Article Link: Apple Testing an ARM (A5) Powered MacBook Air?
  2. macrumors 68020


    Jul 21, 2004
  3. macrumors newbie


    Nov 17, 2009
    What about non Apple software on ARM cpu? would it need rosetta 2.0 ?
  4. macrumors 6502


    May 16, 2003
    sounds shady...but if you could choose between intel (for power users) and A5 (for non power users)?
  5. macrumors 6502


    Apr 23, 2011
  6. macrumors newbie

    May 23, 2011

    But you dont have photoshop or flash on the Ipad.
  7. macrumors 68020


    Jun 4, 2009
    If I could switch into a very low usage state (like an iPad only running one app) and get 10+ hours of battery, that would be awesome. (Plus a backlit keyboard)
  8. macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    they might be testing it, but it won't be until a6 or a7 that a solid "desktop" system (as opposed to ios) can be built on arm. Anyone who thinks otherwise is clueless.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2006
    Maybe just an A5 for graphics and openCL purposes since A5 are fully (CPU and GPU) compatible with the standard where Intel current designs only support openCL on the CPU.
  10. asdf542, May 27, 2011
    Last edited: May 27, 2011

    macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2010
    Geekbench processor scores for lulz:
    A5 - 747
    1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo (Penryn) - 2255
    1.4 GHz Core i5 (Sandy Bridge)- 4519

    Ivy Bridge will support OpenCL on the IGP.
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 1, 2011
  12. macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    LOL! :D

    Finally the word "PowerBook" may be used again!
  13. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    While I don't doubt this is being considered it seems a long way off.
  14. Guest


    Aug 6, 2008
    Manchester UK
    Perhaps this is what the future white MacBook would end up running? Seems like a good way of combating those Google Chromebooks that are coming soon.
  15. macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    Just release the SandyBridge Airs already, then we can talk about some mystical A5 prototypes...
  16. Administrator emeritus


    Jan 15, 2006
    The Kop
    At least we can possibly still run bootcamp with Windows 8 also being arm compatible.

    I also think it will be a long way off before a public switch to arm if there ever is one but I don't doubt that they are running it their labs.
  17. macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2007
    This wouldn't surprise me. Apple has a knack for looking into the future – way into the future in some cases. That doesn't mean that they're preparing for an ARM-based MacBook Air today, just that they're exploring their options for three or four years down the road.

    Eventually ARM will go 64-bit and add workstation-level features, and Apple is investing a lot of money into producing their own custom ARM-based chips. Keeping their options open for future Mac hardware makes sense.

    Don't forget, Apple had been producing experimental Intel-based Macs since before Mac OS X 1.0 came out in 2001. But they never made this public until they transitioned to Intel processors in 2005; that's a four year period of experimentation and preparation for a possible future.
  18. macrumors 68020


    Jul 21, 2004
    It was my first "first post"! :D I couldn't resist.
  19. macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2010
    Almost Rock Solid
    Multiple A5s now, A6/A7 later?

    Agree that full-blown Mac OS X needs more than just one A5 to run well. So maybe Apple could put two A5s in a MacBook Air and use Grand Central Dispatch to coordinate tasks among the 4 cores on the two chips.

    Inevitably, the ARM chips will get faster, so in the future Apple will be able to use A6, A7, etc. Of course, Mac Pros would still need to use Intel chips until GCD can efficiently handle 8, 16, 32, or more cores.
  20. macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    They tested it, maybe.

    And discovered that it wouldn’t run anything :eek:

    Well, that’s what testing is for :)

    (Makes sense to consider far-future contingencies, though. Looking ahead and doing a certain amount of work “just in case” is how they were able to pull off the big Intel transition.)
  21. macrumors member

    Mar 1, 2011
    Err... GCD can efficiently handle as many cores you can throw at it. Take a look at the dual processor 12-core Mac Pro.
  22. macrumors regular

    Apr 25, 2008
    North Yorkshire, England
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Can't see this coming to fruition for at least a couple of years for the reasons already stated.

    Just out of curiosity however how powerful is the A5 chip in terms of it's graphics abilities compared to the nvidia GPU in the current MBA? Wouldn't be surprised if Apple have dabbled with the idea of using an A5 for low power apps and graphics with an Intel CPU coming in for heavy lifting.

    There'd be a lot of technical hurdles to doing that granted but if anyone's going to pull it off, Apple would.
  23. macrumors member

    Mar 1, 2011
    There's no comparison. Even the three year old 9400M takes a crap all over the A5's GPU performance, and rightfully so.
  24. macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2009
  25. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    Bath, UK.

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