ARM-Based MacBook Air Unlikely Based on Analyst Talk with Tim Cook

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 4, 2012.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    There had been some interesting claims last year that Apple had been actively testing an ARM (A5) based MacBook Air. The ARM processor is the same one that is used in the iPhone and iPad. An ARM-based MacBook Air, however, would raise a number of questions about what kind of device it might actually be. Would it run OS X, or iOS? Would it be closer to a Mac or an iOS device? One of the main advantages of using an ARM processor would be a reduction in power-requirements, but with a corresponding drop in computing power. Using ARM, however, would abandon binary compatibility with existing Mac OS X applications.


    CNet reports on a research note from Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner who was able to meet with Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer on Thursday. Gardner addresses this question in his note with the following:
    Based on his conversations with the Apple executives, it seems Gardner believes that the iPad will evolve to meet any needs that might be met with an ARM-based MacBook air.

    Rumors have suggested that the iPad will likely be getting a significant upgrade in the near future, with a faster processor, improved graphics capabilities and the long rumored Retina display. Of course, Cook is unlikely to divulge specific product plans at analyst meetings, but a complete Apple transition to ARM processors seemed an unlikely prospect regardless.

    Article Link: ARM-Based MacBook Air Unlikely Based on Analyst Talk with Tim Cook
  2. parapup macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2006
    Ok, at least analysts can stop now. We don't have to hear stupid 'theories' and rumors about an A6 Air for some time. That cannot be bad.
  3. shardey macrumors 6502a


    Jan 28, 2010
    Of course it wouldn't be an A5, since the newer SoC's will be the A6 quad core. That would be more plausible to fall into an Air.
  4. damir00 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 30, 2011
    It seems that running parallel tracks allows the best of all worlds - tech development and the market will sort out the "right" answer for any moment in time.
  5. Mattsasa macrumors 68020


    Apr 12, 2010
    the article says "ARM-bases" macbook air. It wouldn't be an A5 or an A6, it would be a new processor designed specifically for the MBA
  6. lifeinhd macrumors 65816


    Mar 26, 2008
    But of course, this needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as Apple executives have been known to say they're not considering something and then a year later introduce it.
  7. VanMac macrumors 6502a


    May 26, 2005
    Rampaging Tokyo
    Not surprised. Intel seems to be working out pretty good on this machine.
  8. Yamcha macrumors 68000

    Mar 6, 2008
    Yeah I don't really see it happening because It would mean Apple would have to add support for ARM Processors..

    And while I can't say for sure I just don't think they will capable of powering an operating system like Mac OSX Lion with ARM Processors..

    The only benefit I can see is better battery life..
  9. HiRez macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2004
    Western US
    Well, all I can say is I'd love a MBA with 10 hour battery life, even if the CPU doesn't run as fast. I have a brand-new quad-core late 2011 iMac, and a 2011 MacBook Air. The MacBook Air, while technically much slower, feels much faster, because of the SSD drive (the iMac has a hard drive). In other words, I do not find the CPU being a bottleneck at all on the new MBAs, in fact it's much faster than I need for most of the things I do, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Xcode.
  10. reallynotnick macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    Looking at Intel's pipeline with new Ivy Bridge chips with their low power usage coming out soon it would take awhile for ARM to catch up. If ARM chips started to be really competitive to x86/x64 chips I could see the option popping up but it doesn't seem like Intel will let it.

    Maybe in 2-5 years it would be a real option. The problem is though unlike the switch from PPC to x86 ARM chips are really only good for portables as of now, they would really have to step up on the high end to be used in a desktop but I guess they could keep both around. ARM for iPhone/iPad/MBA and x86 for MBP/Mac Mini/iMac/Mac Pro and maybe even offer the MBA in both ARM and x86.
  11. Torrijos macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2006
    iOS is, to some extent, Mac OS X on ARM with frameworks adapted to the display size and input available...

    I for one think that in the near future once ARM CPUs, but more importantly PowerVR GPUs, have become powerful enough, smartphone and tablets will replace desktop computers for most people.
    For those that need to do serious work dock station with physical keyboard and external display will be usable (an extension of airplay), for even more computational intensive work, there would be cloud options an VMs.
    The desktop computer as we know it is going to disappear during the next 10 years if only because it isn't great business anymore.
  12. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Doesn't matter. ARM based means you are stuck with whatever ARM provides. Whether it's Cortex-A9 or Cortex-A15 doesn't really matter. Sure, MBA's more advanced cooling system should allow higher clocks and possibly som extra customization but that it would still be quite similar to the SoCs used in iPads and iPhones.

    Plus you need all the software to support ARM as well. That's too much for just one computer, Apple would go ARM-only if they did that.
  13. tmarks11 macrumors 6502a

    May 3, 2010
    I guess that kills my hope that Apple will offer an"ipad pro"; a Lion based tablet of similar capabilities and dimensions of the MBA 11. Seemed like the perfect way to make win8 tablets DOA.
  14. BobbyRond macrumors regular


    Dec 13, 2011
    The Hague, The Netherlands
    I hope this will never happen. This would make it an Apple netbook. And god do I hate netbooks. :rolleyes:
  15. Xero910 macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2003
  16. kalsta macrumors 68000


    May 17, 2010
    iOS = touchscreen. OS X = mouse and keyboard.

    I don't know why we have these persistent debates about OS X merging with iOS, and hybrid touchscreen devices capable of running Mac software. That is Microsoft's approach, not Apple's! Apple understood that a device which tries to do everything, ends up not doing anything particularly well, and ends up adding complexity (for both developers and users) rather than reducing it. So they designed a UI specifically for a touchscreen device. I'd say they've done rather well with this approach.

    You're suggesting Apple needs to copy Microsoft's approach, the one that's been failing for years to bring a user-friendly tablet to market, to ensure they do well in the market they already dominate? That doesn't make much sense to me.
  17. ipedro macrumors 68040


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    iOS has covered most people's bases with iPhone and iPad performing most of the daily tasks one has in their personal lives. email, web browsing, information lookup, social media, music, photo and video storage, etc.

    What has been missing is a complete professional experience. Writers, engineers, creative professionals all need a full fledged computer to do their daily work. However, almost all of these could be done better on a tablet if the right hardware and software combination came together. If Apple's latests apps are any indication, this is beginning to happen.

    Old timers might not like it, but Mac OSX's life is now limited. Apple will probably continue developing and supporting it but the future is in iOS. FCPX is clearly suited for a touch screen UI. Aperture for iPad appears to be on the horizon and third party CAD tools are already developing into being as fully featured as their cursor based UI counterparts. Writing professionals such as journalists and bloggers are beginning to adopt iPads as their main tool, accompanied with a keyboard.

    In my opinion, this is what Tim Cook is referring to. There is no need to port iOS to a traditional notebook, as existing and future iOS devices will work just as well or better.
  18. mdriftmeyer macrumors 68030


    Feb 2, 2004
    Pacific Northwest
    Apple doesn't sell a 32 bit version of OS X Lion.

    ARM doesn't have a true 64 bit CPU design out to build. ARMv8 is not out yet.


    How is this even an idea, never mind a rumor?

    It's insulting to anyone with enough intelligence to read English, never mind understand that LLVM/Clang doesn't even have the architecture in place to test.


    Not even close. You'd know that if you were following the APIs.
  19. lilo777 macrumors 603

    Nov 25, 2009
    If Apple decided to use ARM chips for laptops those laptops would be less powerful than Android phones :D
  20. longofest Editor emeritus


    Jul 10, 2003
    Falls Church, VA
    You wouldn't see a MacBook Air based on an A5. A5 is Cortex-A9 based, which uses the ARMv7 instruction set. I'd imagine you'd need to have an ARMv8 (64 bit) chip before you can seriously consider a MacBook Air powered by ARM.
  21. ipedro macrumors 68040


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    I'm not suggesting that the Mac will be gone in 4 or 5 years. However, it's worth noting that just a couple of years ago, the common thought was that OSX would eventually be succeeded by OS11 or whatever they would call it. Today, it's becoming clear that OSX is the end of the line for the traditional cursor based UI operating system. Apple will continue to evolve and support it until it becomes a niche tool that most people can replace with an iOS device.
  22. kalsta macrumors 68000


    May 17, 2010
    Docking an iPad with a keyboard and display does not a Mac replace. This idea is more or less just another variation on the merging OS idea, to suggest that iOS will simply replace OS X. A pointer device and cursor is intimately more suited to precision work than touching a screen with your pudgy digits (which cover what you're touching). This isn't going to change in the future, unless humans evolve transparent fingers which narrow to a precision point at the end, and the ability to hold their arms extended up to a vertical screen for hours on end.

    This ol' timer says no.
  23. AustinIllini macrumors demi-goddess


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    I think the "X" has become a huge part of the branding. It's unlike the lack of OS11 signals the end of the Mac
  24. marcusj0015, Feb 4, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012

    marcusj0015 macrumors 65816

    Aug 29, 2011
    Thank God!

    I was scared, I didn't really believe this rumor, but it made some sense. I can sleep good again, thanks Macrumors! :D


    ... How many times do we have to go over this? Mac OS IS iOS, literally, ALL Apple'd have to do, is flip a single setting in Xcode to compile Mac OS for ARM. hell they already do, and they call it iOS.

    The real, MAIN reason ARM isn't ready for full fledged computers, is it's only 32 bit.
  25. GSPice macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2008
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    I stopped reading at

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