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Apple's $500 Developer Program Includes Tools and Resources for Transitioning to Apple Silicon, Plus a Loaner A12Z-Based Mac Mini

alien3dx

macrumors 65816
Feb 12, 2017
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I kinda wanted to buy one of these to play with but seems like I'm unlikely to get one since I'm not a big developer and I don't want to pay that much just to rent something for a short time. Thought it would be a nice collector's item too, as well as a decent little computer for my kid once the beta is done or a nice low-power device to run HomeBridge and other stuff like that.
if 2 years using it and return it okay.. but if 6 month go di* lol
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I bought an iMac 2 weeks ago and could still return it tomorrow as the last day (which I won’t, since not even spec bumps were announced)... so I’m in the same “concerned” boat. However all the responses here to your concern are positively hopeful, 5 years at least would make me a happy customer. Still worried that understandably the focus will be on the ARM side of things... bugs, performance tweaks, etc will understandably be done first (if not mostly only barring workaround patches) for the ARM side. Plus all the hardwares addons, coprocessor satellites, hw engines, etc that the Axx chips have that have no equivalent on a x86 architecture means that those features might have to be emulated, meaning it would run slower.
I’m thinking FCPX for example... that “track subject” feature that uses the neural engine, what will the x86 land get? Will we start seeing declining performance as the focus is shifted more and more towards ARM?
I welcome the change though, looks like a potential interesting future where the stalemate we are at CPU wise could come to an end.
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And those Mac apps that haven’t been changed nor updated will auto-magically run too with Rosetta 2
don't return it. We don't know how powerful and no way apple can emulate the powerful of MacPro(not powerfull as custom Linux). I have iMac 2017 and + 2 years = 5 years so that time i will think mac mini instead but for now, don't risk if thinking 10 years support like iMac 2011 and MacBook 2011(still using it now)
 
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idmean

macrumors member
Feb 27, 2015
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141
As for future apps - it all depends on how much developers are wiling to write binary code to support both x86 and Arm.

I don't no where this notion comes from that modern software development includes writing assembly or architecture dependent code. You can safely assume that 95% of code written these days is totally architecture independent.
 
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Janichsan

macrumors 68020
Oct 23, 2006
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I purchased a 16-inch MacBook just a few months ago... How long will Apple provide macOS updates for Intel macs? And will apps developed for Apple Silicon work on Intel macs? Honestly not happy about this transition...
Apple announced the Intel switch in 2005, the first version of OS X no longer PPC compatible was released in 2009, and they dropped PPC support completely in 2011.

I would expect a similar timeframe for this transition.
 
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alien3dx

macrumors 65816
Feb 12, 2017
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I don't no where this notion comes from that modern software development includes writing assembly or architecture dependent code. You can safely assume that 95% of code written these days is totally architecture independent.
rule one never assume as developer. We currently using 32 bit proc. Long time ago we got one customer using 64 bit itanium and never mention to us. When test at xeon,core 2 duo system work fine when deploy to itannium horrible

** intel itanium is dead allready, we all use now amd 64
 
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CarlJ

macrumors 603
Feb 23, 2004
5,099
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San Diego, CA, USA
Were all the demos done on the A12Z dev Mac Min? If so that is amazing. Imagine what it could do on a dedicated Mac chip instead of an iPad chip?
Highly unlikely. The dev kit machine is something that they’re prepared to crank out tens of thousands of. It’s certainly not the only ARM-based Mac they have running: if they’re going to ship a production ARM-based Mac - the first of many new ARM Macs - this fall, a few short months away, then they’ve got to have that hardware basically complete already. And they likely have prototypes of numerous other designs that they could have used for these demos. A prototype board inside a the chassis of a Mac Mini or Mac Pro would do just fine. They never said, “and we’re running all this on the same dev kit hardware you can sign up for”, they simply said that all the demos were running on their new “Apple Silicon” processors.
 
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rp2011

macrumors 68000
Oct 12, 2010
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Highly unlikely. The dev kit machine is something that they’re prepared to crank out tens of thousands of. It’s certainly not the only ARM-based Mac they have running: if they’re going to ship a production ARM-based Mac - the first of many new ARM Macs - this fall, a few short months away, then they’ve got to have that hardware basically complete already. And they likely have prototypes of numerous other designs that they could have used for these demos. A prototype board inside a the chassis of a Mac Mini or Mac Pro would do just fine. They never said, “and we’re running all this on the same dev kit hardware you can sign up for”, they simply said that all the demos were running on their new “Apple Silicon” processors.
Well Craig did In fact show that the Mac he himself was using in his demonstration was an A12Z dev machine. I just wasn’t sure if everything demoed was using the same dev machine Craig was using.

It seemed to me as if they wanted to to keep the actual chips for the new Macs under wraps until the fall event for a more dramatic reveal.
 
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Spock

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dannys1

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While not unexpected… it is a little disconcerting for me.

I don't see how they can't launch an actual Apple Silicon Mac without USB 4 support. They also need to go the full hog and do stuff they couldn't with Intel, like PCI-E 4 support.
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I purchased a 16-inch MacBook just a few months ago... How long will Apple provide macOS updates for Intel macs? And will apps developed for Apple Silicon work on Intel macs? Honestly not happy about this transition...

I really wouldn't worry about that, they'll still be releasing Intel Macs for another year or two and they'll need to support the top end Mac Pro for at least 5-7 years.
 
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recoil80

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Jul 16, 2014
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Too bad you have to return it after you're done, it is a really good price for a Mac Mini with 512 of storage!
 
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Spock

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Apple announced the Intel switch in 2005, the first version of OS X no longer PPC compatible was released in 2009, and they dropped PPC support completely in 2011.

I would expect a similar timeframe for this transition.
Yeah, but it’s not really the same. PowerPC development was stalled and IBM couldn’t seem to get it together and that’s why Apple made the switch. My last PowerPC Mac was a Mac mini and it was pretty much useless in two years time because the G4’s single 1.25 GHz processor and 166 MHz bus speed just couldn’t keep up with the rapid changes in technology and software development.
 
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Val-kyrie

macrumors 68020
Feb 13, 2005
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On the hardware side, participants will receive exclusive access to a Developer Transition Kit (DTK), which resembles a Mac mini but uses Apple's A12Z Bionic chip from the latest iPad Pro as its brains. In addition to the A12Z Bionic, the DTK includes 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a pair of 10 Gbps USB-C ports, a pair of 5 Gbps USB-A ports, and an HDMI 2.0 port. Thunderbolt 3 support is not included.

I am wondering how companies that produce Thunderbolt devices are supposed to get their software updated when Apple doesn’t have a Thunderbolt ARM device to offer them to develop on?

This is why Apple was mum on I/O ports at the general presentation. There will be no ThunderBolt support for ARM-based Macs. There will be outrage in the future when professionals realize Apple is no longer supporting ThunderBolt and its very expensive peripherals.


The first Intel macs were much more exciting than the P4 dev kits. There is hope. Not sure about TB4 but I’m pretty sure USB4 will be supported (i.e. TB3 essentially). Just my 2 cent though.

They'll probably have USB 4 when shipping, which is essentially Thunderbolt 3 with a different name.

Although ThunderBolt 3/4 will share the same USB type-C port as USB 4, and both are able to offer the same maximum theoretical bandwidth, the protocols are different. USB 4 does not mandate TB support. TB support is optional and it still costs money for licensure. The protocol for TB was donated by Intel, but for an OEM to advertise the TB nomenclature they must still be certified and pay Intel for the licensure. (Of course, an OEM could include TB 3/4 support without paying Intel but they would be prohibited from advertising support for TB. Realistically, who would do that?)

Unlike TB, some features of USB 4 are either optional or not guaranteed. For example, under the USB 4 spec, PCI-e tunneling, TB support, and USB-C alt modes (e.g. DP alt-modes) are optional and bandwidth is not guaranteed. An OEM may implement a bandwidth of 40Gbps, 20Gbps, or 10Gbps, and still use the USB 4 nomenclature.

Moreover, TB support on USB 4 devices may be quite limited due to the complications involved with supporting the signaling rates for USB 4, TB, and the DP Alt-Mode 2.0. As posted in another forum (spacing added):

In reality, the PHY situation for USB4 with Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort 2.0 Alt Modes is quite complicated. You have a single USB Type-C port that needs to support all of the following modes on the high-speed signaling pairs:

USB4 Gen 3 (20 Gbit/s with 128b/132b encoding or RS(198,194) FEC, 4 pairs as 2 bonded, dual-simplex lanes)
USB4 Gen 2 (10 Gbit/s with 64b/66b encoding or RS(198,194) FEC, 4 pairs as 2 bonded, dual-simplex lanes)
USB3 Gen 2 x 2 (10 Gbit/s with 128b/132b encoding, 4 pairs as 2 bonded, dual-simplex lanes)
USB3 Gen 2 x 1 (10 Gbit/s with 128b/132b encoding, 2 pairs as 1 dual-simplex lane)
USB3 Gen 1 x 2 (5 Gbit/s with 8b/10b encoding, 4 pairs as 2 bonded, dual-simplex lanes)
USB3 Gen 1 x 1 (5 Gbit/s with 8b/10b encoding, 2 pairs as 1 dual-simplex lane)

TBT3 (20.625 Gbit/s with 64b/66b encoding, 4 pairs as 2 bonded, dual-simplex channels)
TBT2 (10.3125 Gbit/s with 64b/66b encoding, 4 pairs as 2 bonded, dual-simplex channels)
TBT (10.3125 Gbit/s with 64b/66b encoding, 2/4 pairs as 1 or 2 dual-simplex channels)

DP UHBR 20 (20 Gbit/s with 128b/132b encoding plus RS-FEC, 1/2/4 pairs as 1 simplex main link)
DP UHBR 13.5 (13.5 Gbit/s with 128b/132b encoding plus RS-FEC, 1/2/4 pairs as 1 simplex main link)
DP UHBR 10 (10 Gbit/s with 128b/132b encoding plus RS-FEC, 1/2/4 pairs as 1 simplex main link)

DP HBR3 (8.1 Gbit/s with 8b/10b encoding plus optional RS(254,250) FEC, 1/2/4 pairs as 1 simplex main link)
DP HBR2 (5.4 Gbit/s with 8b/10b encoding plus optional RS(254,250) FEC, 1/2/4 pairs as 1 simplex main link)
DP HBR (2.7 Gbit/s with 8b/10b encoding plus optional RS(254,250) FEC, 1/2/4 pairs as 1 simplex main link)
DP RBR (1.62 Gbit/s with 8b/10b encoding plus optional RS(254,250) FEC, 1/2/4 pairs as 1 simplex main link)

Hopefully Thunderbolt 4 controllers, redrivers, and retimers will be able to handle all of the above so end users don't have to worry about it. (This is corroborated by other sites.)

The reason TB 3/4 support under USB 4 is so important is because TB support requires all of the optional features of USB 4 to be implemented. This is why TB support under USB 4 will be restricted to high end, expensive computers.
 
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delhifox

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Apr 4, 2018
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I am wondering how companies that produce Thunderbolt devices are supposed to get their software updated when Apple doesn’t have a Thunderbolt ARM device to offer them to develop on?
While not unexpected… it is a little disconcerting for me.
They showed the demo using Pro Display XDR, which is a TB3 display. So we know that it supports TB3, the question is will Apple include TB3 in production devices.
 
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CubeHacker

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Apr 22, 2003
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I don't no where this notion comes from that modern software development includes writing assembly or architecture dependent code. You can safely assume that 95% of code written these days is totally architecture independent.

it really depends on the software. A basic text editor can probably be recompiled And made to work in an hour or two. A modern 3D game that took 3 years to develop and is optimized for x86 architecture might take several month of work and bug testing to port. For many software companies, it’s not going to be worth it to transition.
 
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Spock

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They showed the demo using Pro Display XDR, which is a TB3 display. So we know that it supports TB3, the question is will Apple include TB3 in production devices.
That didn’t have to be a TB3 display, they could have all been modified.
 
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mi7chy

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Oct 24, 2014
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$500 deposit on dev kit means the retail price will be around $1000 to $1500 starting which is quite a markup from $75 Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB DRAM.
 
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developer13245

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Nov 15, 2012
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Well Craig did In fact show that the Mac he himself was using in his demonstration was an A12Z dev machine. I just wasn’t sure if everything demoed was using the same dev machine Craig was using.

It seemed to me as if they wanted to to keep the actual chips for the new Macs under wraps until the fall event for a more dramatic reveal.

They didn't say all hardware used in the demo was A12Z powered, so obviously they were using more advanced processors elsewhere in the demo. Apple is the master of such sleight of hand ;)

But the A12Z seems like a good starting point for the transition. Using it for the DTK hardware will be just fine. And the DTK price is actually reasonable, even for small operations. Will be interesting to see what the program "acceptance" rate will be.

The only comparison we have is the Apple TV 4 developer "preview" hardware, which only $1USD. The units were early production and did not need to be returned. That was VERY reasonable.

Seems like Apple can be reasonable when they need "help" from their developers.

"They need you right now... but when they don't... they'll cast you out"

Who gets a DTK

I'm garbage, I code for money.
At least I'm ahead of the curve...
 
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KPOM

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Oct 23, 2010
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Is it significant that the Developer Kit Mac doesn't have Thunderbolt 3 ports?
 
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CWallace

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Aug 17, 2007
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Is it significant that the Developer Kit Mac doesn't have Thunderbolt 3 ports?

IMO, no.

The A12Z does not have a TB3 controller so that would be a logical explanation why the DTK does not have TB3.

Mac-specific SoCs can incorporate a TB3 controller and TB3 can be in the consumer-shipping models.
 
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