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Be Inc. founder and former Apple employee Jean-Louis Gassée weighs in with his take on the recent announcement by Intel on the 3-D transistor technology as well as rumors that Apple might switch to ARM. Gassée spells out Intel's complete absence in the mobile market and how the 3-D transistor technology is supposed to address that, though he isn't particularly optimistic just based on the announcements alone:
We’ll have to wait a year to see how this markitecture translates into actual devices. Wall Street didn’t pay much attention. We’ve been here before: The “product” of the announcement is the announcement. (And there’s the suspicion that “breakthrough” revelations are an attempt to mask a lack of spanking new products.)
As for Apple moving to ARM? Gassée simply doesn't see how ARM can fulfill Apple's high end system requirements:
Today, going ARM is technically feasible on entry-level Macs. Tomorrow, newer multicore ARM chips might work for middle-of-the-line Macintosh products. But will Apple abandon the faster x86 processors at the high end just to avoid the kind of forking that awaits Windows in its own move to ARM? If not, we’ll again see Universal applications (a.k.a. fat binaries–two versions inside the same container), just as we did with the PowerPC to x86 transition. Microsoft is doing it because it must; Apple did it because the PowerPC didn’t have a future. But now?


Article Link: Be Inc. Founder on Intel's 3-D Tech and Apple on ARM
 

Alexander

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Jun 19, 2003
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Eh, Apple is really good at the fat binary -- they're still doing it today with Intel 32-bit and 64-bit binaries, no reason you couldn't just add ARM to the mix.
 
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MrNomNoms

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Eh, Apple is really good at the fat binary -- they're still doing it today with Intel 32-bit and 64-bit binaries, no reason you couldn't just add ARM to the mix.

ARM is a different beast entirely; moving from x86 to x64 was a tweak were as ARM is anal about things like memory alignment etc. Apple might be able to move the OS and consumer stuff quickly to the new architecture but I don't see the likes of Final Cut Pro or big Adobe software ever getting to ARM let alone running nicely on the platform. The ARM platform itself is stuck in the 32bit world, there is no 64bit one around the corner, and latest interviews from a year ago with an ARM representative stated they have no need to expand the ISA and create ARMv8 - that ARMv7 does the job nicely the way it is. Until ARM comes out with a 64bit version of their processor the best it can hope for is sitting in hand held devices - and maybe that is all they want to do realistically.
 
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fruitpunch.ben

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Why must Microsoft move to ARM? I don't understand
 
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beez1717

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I'm wondering if Apple might be doing some MAJOR research into the ARM technology and might end up coming up with their OWN ARM processer that would replace intel in the future. I'm thinking this is where apple is moving towards. What I hope though (but won't happen) is that Apple ends up getting their own custom in house X86 chips from now on. That would be cool.

If there is one thing that I wish that Apple had done was to make it so that the classic environment had been ported to intel computers. I know that lots of people don't use classic apps any more, but they could have made a buck or two off the people who WOULD use it. That, or they could have baked the technology into Rosetta.


As for moving to ARM (back to that topic), I'm wondering if they might end up throwing in support for ARM and then letting the consumer choose the processer in their computer system. Heck, knowing how innovative Apple is they might end up making it so they could put in both processers somehow and make it so that you only have to use the Intel processer if you need high performance and not power savings. That could be interesting if they did get it to work.
 
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C00rDiNaT0r

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Jan 12, 2006
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Let's say Apple puts in 2 A5 Chips into the next MBA, giving it 4 cores, and let's say Apple already has the technology to make OSX apps run natively on ARM processors. Will its performance/battery life be better than the current gen MBA?
 
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sjinsjca

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Oct 30, 2008
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Why must Microsoft move to ARM? I don't understand


Because MSFT is nowhere in tablets and it's hurting. Just as Motorola was unable to keep pace with Apple's needs a decade ago, Intel is unable to keep pace with Microsoft's in the mobile sphere. There's a reason why all tablets are ARM-based: power efficiency.
 
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R2D2 xx

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a Mac without adobe master collection. I don't know about that.
 
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Alexander

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ARM is a different beast entirely; moving from x86 to x64 was a tweak were as ARM is anal about things like memory alignment etc. Apple might be able to move the OS and consumer stuff quickly to the new architecture but I don't see the likes of Final Cut Pro or big Adobe software ever getting to ARM let alone running nicely on the platform. The ARM platform itself is stuck in the 32bit world, there is no 64bit one around the corner, and latest interviews from a year ago with an ARM representative stated they have no need to expand the ISA and create ARMv8 - that ARMv7 does the job nicely the way it is. Until ARM comes out with a 64bit version of their processor the best it can hope for is sitting in hand held devices - and maybe that is all they want to do realistically.

It appears that the A15 is definitely targeting higher-end applications, has 40-bit memory addressing, and scalability to 16 cores. Apple is definitely working on taking advantage of that parallelism with things like Grand Central Dispatch.
 
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patohi

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Depends how powerful or big apple's cloud will be.... It's the experience not the specs that apple values most!!!!
 
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OliverOSX93

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Ever think the whole arm thing could be for an iOS revamp based on lion? Or a version of lion for tablets (a la windows CE / 8 ). My guess is on the first.
 
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Alexander

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Ever think the whole arm thing could be for an iOS revamp based on lion? Or a version of lion for tablets (a la windows CE / 8 ). My guess is on the first.

The lines between iOS and OS X certainly are blurring, aren't they.
 
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GregA

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Mar 14, 2003
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The lines between iOS and OS X certainly are blurring, aren't they.

I'd bet they had 2 prototype light notebooks - a close call between MacOSX-based MacBook Airs, vs iOS-based "iBook Airs". They'd both run Pages, iMovie etc... and I assume once iOS5 and OSX-Lion are released the 2 would look VERY similar in many ways.
 
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MrNomNoms

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It appears that the A15 is definitely targeting higher-end applications, has 40-bit memory addressing, and scalability to 16 cores. Apple is definitely working on taking advantage of that parallelism with things like Grand Central Dispatch.

Which would be entirely useless given that it is still a 32bit processor - so they would move to make Lion 'Core 2' or greater but then step backwards some time in the future to a 32bit processor? Your statement has absolutely no logic at all to it.
 
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Juan007

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Performance with any number of A5s will be awful, it will be competitive with Netbooks only.
 
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sporadicMotion

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I have visions of iOS consumer level computers being based on ARM and OS X staying on the "Pro" machines on x86/64... I use that term loosely. It's how it's already unfolding. :D It would avoid yet another architecture switch.

EDIT:

Yes!

I'd bet they had 2 prototype light notebooks - a close call between MacOSX-based MacBook Airs, vs iOS-based "iBook Airs". They'd both run Pages, iMovie etc... and I assume once iOS5 and OSX-Lion are released the 2 would look VERY similar in many ways.
 
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Alexander

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Which would be entirely useless given that it is still a 32bit processor - so they would move to make Lion 'Core 2' or greater but then step backwards some time in the future to a 32bit processor? Your statement has absolutely no logic at all to it.

I'm curious why this doesn't make sense -- as I understand it, the primary advantage of 64-bit architectures outside of specific scientific applications is simply the ability to address more than 4GB of RAM. If you have a system to address that (e.g. a 40-bit address space), where's the problem?

Particularly if a 32-bit, many-core ARM architecture allows significant power per watt advantages.
 
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Cromulent

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Oct 2, 2006
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Which would be entirely useless given that it is still a 32bit processor - so they would move to make Lion 'Core 2' or greater but then step backwards some time in the future to a 32bit processor? Your statement has absolutely no logic at all to it.

The main advantage of 64bit apps on the Intel platform (other than increased memory addressing) of having access to more registers is simply not a problem with ARM processors and since the new ARM processor has 40 bit addressing which allows the computer to address more than enough RAM for the foreseeable future of consumer and even pro machines there is no real backwards move at all.
 
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42streetsdown

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Feb 12, 2011
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If there is one thing that I wish that Apple had done was to make it so that the classic environment had been ported to intel computers. I know that lots of people don't use classic apps any more, but they could have made a buck or two off the people who WOULD use it. That, or they could have baked the technology into Rosetta.
.

It was around 2005 when they dropped classic support. That's support for an OS six years dead. Backwards compatibility can be as much of a hinderance as is can be a help. Why would apple want to maintain support for something that is that far gone?
 
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qtx43

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Aug 4, 2007
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If you distribute programs as llvm bitcode, and compile them as part of the installation process, then there is no need for fat binaries.
 
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blow45

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Jan 18, 2011
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As for Apple moving to ARM? Gassée simply doesn't see how ARM can fulfill Apple's high end system requirements:
Today, going ARM is technically feasible on entry-level Macs. Tomorrow, newer multicore ARM chips might work for middle-of-the-line Macintosh products. But will Apple abandon the faster x86 processors at the high end just to avoid the kind of forking that awaits Windows in its own move to ARM? If not, we’ll again see Universal applications (a.k.a. fat binaries–two versions inside the same container), just as we did with the PowerPC to x86 transition. Microsoft is doing it because it must; Apple did it because the PowerPC didn’t have a future. But now?

Amen, glad to see we are vindicated after two moronic posts on p.1 and 2 on apple switching their notebooks to arm, by none less than y Gassee.
 
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Tha Professor

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Apr 21, 2009
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what if...

What if you would have both on your laptop, just like you have two GPUs that switch seamlessly according to your graphical needs? Most user most definitely dont need all that raw computing power in their 13 inch laptops... But of course you cant take them away from macs, since a lot of users need their macs for real work...
 
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coder12

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Depends how powerful or big apple's cloud will be.... It's the experience not the specs that apple values most!!!!

Unless you are a video editor like myself, then the specs really do matter ;)
 
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opeter

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Aug 5, 2007
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Unless you are a video editor like myself, then the specs really do matter ;)

Such users are in minorty. ;) Of course consumers do sometimes video editing work, but how many of these need ultrafast beefed up MacPros?

Do not forget: Apple is a consumer oriented company.
 
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gnasher729

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Nov 25, 2005
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ARM is a different beast entirely; moving from x86 to x64 was a tweak were as ARM is anal about things like memory alignment etc.

The ARM processor in iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad is 100 percent source code compatible with 32 bit x86, unlike x86-64. Memory alignment is no problem in 95% of all cases. It is a very small performance hit if the programmer insists on packed data structures, that covers 99.5% of all cases. In the remaining cases, problems are automatically fixed by the OS.

If you distribute programs as llvm bitcode, and compile them as part of the installation process, then there is no need for fat binaries.

Oh my god. Please explain how you would turn this into _one_ set of llvm code:

Code:
#include <stdio.h>
int main (void) {
# if defined (_i386_)
  printf ("This program runs on an x86 32 bit processor\n");
#elif defined (_x86_64_)
  printf ("This program runs on an x86 64 bit processor\n");
#elif defined (_arm_)
  printf ("This program runs on an ARM processor\n");
#else
  printf ("This program runs on some processor that I don't know of\n");
#endif
}
 
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