Apple skips Haswell and goes to ARM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by stagmeister, Sep 11, 2013.

  1. stagmeister macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2004
    I know this might sound a bit crazy. But in John Gruber's recent post, he remarked:

    It’s faster (seemingly way faster, far faster than the mere “S” tacked onto the end of its name would imply). They’re calling it “desktop caliber” performance, and I don’t think they’re exaggerating. Now that they’ve gone 64-bit, I’ve got to start wondering about ARM-based MacBooks in the near future.

    I have been trying to understand why Apple's delayed the new rMBP for so long. The MBA's have been out for a long time now. I have one -- the battery life is amazing. Why might Apple be waiting on Haswell? Well, maybe because it doesn't provide such a great benefit for a "power" machine.

    That's to say, adding Haswell won't give a big benefit where most "pro" users really want: in computing power. It will only give about a 10% improvement for most users. So besides the "problem" of the computer line not having the latest-and-greatest parts, the rMBPs are, as we all know, great machines as they currently stand. Perhaps Apple sees that there isn't a huge upside to upgrading the computers and is working secretly on using the new 64-bit ARM systems-on-a-chip that are specifically engineered for Mac OS X -- i.e. taking particular system commands that are normally executed in code and hard-coding them in the chip, as they have been doing with great success in making iOS way faster on the mobile devices -- and are planning to ship a Mac with an ARM chip alongside a dGPU.
  2. GSPice macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2008
    Besides the near-sci-fi difference between Intel mobile CPUs and Apple's iPhone CPUs, did you not see the geekbench leak with the Haswell processor?

    You're taking a quote - that's all it is, a quote about a phone chip - and making a massive, Lord of the Rings type leap.
  3. stagmeister thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2004
    Of course it's a big leap. This may happen on the MBA first. There is a race: who can be first, ARM to get to Intel speeds or Intel to get to ARM power consumption?

    But I am sure that Apple is seriously looking into this. In the same way that OS X was living a "secret double life" with Intel while Apple had PPC computers, I'm sure Apple has some computers in their lab and OSX is compiling on ARM -- if only to keep Intel on their toes.

    However, there is a distinct advantage for Apple to make their own chips. They can make their software much faster (and thus any software using the Cocoa toolkit) by putting more and more logic directly on the chip. It won't necessarily lead to greater processing power but it will give a faster experience.
  4. GSPice macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2008
    But in your post you asserted the point with regard to the rMBP.

    Maybe you should look into why Apple began using Intel processors in the first place.


    stagmeister, check these too.
  5. PDFierro macrumors 68040

    Sep 8, 2009
    Could we see ARM processors on the MBA within a few years? I think so. Can't see it happening to the MBP, though.
  6. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    Question is why? Broadwell, on prototype silicon, is already 30% more efficient than Haswell which already gives the 2013 MBA 13 12+ hours of battery life. I don't see ARM catching up to that performance anytime soon and 13-14 hours of battery life is plain overkill.
  7. mcarling macrumors 65816

    Oct 22, 2009
    It's at least a few years away, if it ever happens. I agree that the MBA would probably be first. However, once it starts, it will be all Macs, including the Mac Pro, within two years of the first ARM powered Mac.
  8. PDFierro macrumors 68040

    Sep 8, 2009
    Maybe a new type of device in the Mac line that is neither Air nor Pro? Although the Air is Apple's mass-consumer Mac, so that'd make more sense.
  9. mcarling macrumors 65816

    Oct 22, 2009
    Nonsense. People want to take a laptop on a business trip and not need to take a charger with them. 30 hours of battery life would not necessarily be overkill if the weight difference were negligible.
  10. msavwah macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2010
  11. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    I think magbarn is saying it's overkill at the cost of sacrificing so much performance. There's a balance but I don't think any device maker is prepared to "downgrade" their devices by adopting a chip that can be charged from a potato.

    The New 12 hour Haswell MBA for example doesn't have stellar performance compared to its predecessor but it's certainly not any worse.
  12. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    What does going to ARM give us?

    Even today, Intel has better power efficiency (Except in video playback) over ARM

    The problem with ARM as of currently no one can touch Intel's manufacturing prowess. Broadwell will just continue to extend that gap. There was some hoopla a few months ago how Samsung was getting close to Intel in fab tech, but Samsung was showing off memory which is way easier to manufacture than CPU's.
  13. Jimgpayne macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2012
    Ask Microsoft how well the "Gee, let's do our OS on ARM" is going....

    $900Million write off on inventory.

    John Q Public doesn't like it when it *looks* the same, but can't run the same software.
  14. SimonUK5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2010
    The growth rate on ARM is HUGE, it will happen soon, maybe Apple won't be the first people switch over but people will, and it will be within the next year.

    If you were able to use your iPhone on a monitor with a keyboard and mouse, with a useable UI (not even really needed), it would be more than fast enough for anything you do.
  15. Yahooligan macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2011
    I was somewhat surprised at the first thread suggesting ARM replacing Intel in Macs...because, really, do people think an iPhone can do the same amount of processing as a Mac? It's great that the A7 is a huge leap from the A6, and being 64-bit is pretty sweet too, but that does not mean it's suitable for use in a laptop.

    I suspect the iPads coming out in Q4 will have an A7X, but even that likely won't be suitable. The UI differences are quite large and the iPad/iPhone don't have to deal with the same sort of workloads as a laptop. Multiple windows? Redrawing windows while moving/resizing?

    How about 3rd party apps, I wonder how well Parallels would work...

    Not to mention the entire hardware architecture itself, the logic board would have to be completely re-engineered. Thunderbolt? Bye bye, that's an Intel technology.

    It just doesn't make sense to me that Apple would jump ship from Intel to ARM in the Macs, the cons way outweigh the pros.

    I'd think Apple would start using Intel Atom CPUs in Macs before they'd switch to ARM.
  16. The Mercurian macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    Burn the witch!!!!!!!!!!
  17. Purant macrumors 6502

    Aug 26, 2012
    Why do people want ARM in a Mac? I don't understand.
  18. Erasmus macrumors 68030


    Jun 22, 2006
    Hiding from Omnius in Australia
    Because they think that if Apple switches to a CPU that uses half the power, they will end up with double the battery life. Because everyone knows that an LCD monitor, RAM, Wi-Fi, etc don't use any power.

    And people haven't yet realised that if they want an iPad, they should buy an iPad. And if they instead want an iPad with longer battery life, they should buy an iPad with an external battery.
  19. MatthewAMEL macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    BTW- anandtech just posted it's review of Bay Trail.

    Bay Trail is Intel's new version of Atom which competes directly with ARMs Cortex A15 and Krait 400. Bay Trail is faster than an A15.

    At its Silvermont disclosure, Intel promised performance better than any other ARM based core in the market today. Looking at our Android results, Intel appears to have delivered on that claim. Whether we’re talking about Cortex A15 in NVIDIA’s Shield or Qualcomm’s Krait 400, Silvermont is quicker. It seems safe to say that Intel will have the fastest CPU performance out of any Android tablet platform once Bay Trail ships later this year.
  20. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    The 90 % uninformed iPhone users visit us today in the MBP forum. That's the main reason.
  21. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    Oh geez. There goes the neighborhood. :(
  22. mcarling macrumors 65816

    Oct 22, 2009
    It will be years before ARM processors have any chance to catch up to Intel processors in absolute performance. The switch to 64 bits in the new A7 is merely one critical step in that process. I guess we may see quad-core 64-bit ARM processors in an iPad before the end of 2014. I completely agree that Apple will not reduce performance (at least significantly) during the architecture switch, if there will be one.
  23. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Why did you start two threads on the same topic? Could a mod merge the two maybe?
  24. ValSalva macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    After seeing Gruber's post I knew there would be thread like this. That comment from Gruber was hyperbole regarding the iPhone 5S. Maybe someday ARM based processors could be used in Macs but the point he was trying to make was that the iPhone processor is getting closer and closer to desktop territory in some ways.

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