Future MacBook Air on ARM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by HerbieMac, Sep 10, 2014.

  1. HerbieMac macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2014
  2. Anitramane macrumors 6502

    Dec 23, 2013
    x86 wins. Apple will go Atom before they go ARM.
  3. quackers82 macrumors 6502

    Mar 13, 2014
    I really hope not, i only got my first Mac in 2011 and even i keep coming across PowerPC programs i want to run and cannot or have to do some serious messing about, so another platform change would be a nightmare.
  4. quackers82 macrumors 6502

    Mar 13, 2014
    Yes mainly older games i use to love like Sim City 3000 is PowerPC, The Sims 2 was PowerPC but got that working with some patches and fiddling, Railroad Tycoon 2 is PowerPC, Age of Empires 2 is PowerPC. I've managed to get around by running Parallels and getting the windows version or using WINE and the Windows version, but guessing if they moved from Intel all that would mess up.

    I really wish they had left the Rosetta Engine as an optional install for those that need it, its my only real annoyance with Apple and the Mac.
  5. Anitramane macrumors 6502

    Dec 23, 2013
    Atom is intels low powered x86 stuff. ARM is what it competes with.

    Apple wouldn’t want to do a surface RT.
  6. scaredpoet, Sep 10, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2014

    scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    Quoting from the very first sentence:

    So, off the bat there's some bias here, and probably an agenda.

    I don't discount the possibility that Apple will switch to something ARM based in the future. There's no debating that when they try to sell the phrase "desktop class" on their A7 and A8 processors with the subtlety of a cast iron frying pan to the head, Apple execs are trying to get people to buy into the idea that these could work great on a Mac laptop or desktop, someday.

    But I think it will take more than a couple years, and I have doubts it will be as smooth as the PowerPC-Intel transition. That transition happened with an already mature, desktop-ready architecture. ARM isn't quite there yet.

    On the other hand, this guy could be right, and the transition will come sooner than I think. In that case, it's not going to be due to rational, reasoned analysis, and the results aren't going to be pretty. I worry quite a bit that Apple is so motivated to have full control over their chip designs and implementations that they will try to railroad this transition through (IF it happens) well before the architecture is advanced enough, and users are going to suffer for it.
  7. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    No, but an Intel-specific bias is clear.
  8. HerbieMac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2014
    I don't think so. I think it was just a funny joke. If I worked at intel I might make and AMD crack, and if I worked at apple I might make a snide remark about samsung, but that doesn't mean I hate them or anything.

    Plus the article is pretty neutral. Not a lot of opinions. Just a listing of facts, pros and cons of each architecture. What does he say that is wrong or not true?
  9. bunnspecial macrumors 603


    May 3, 2014
    At least for RT2 and Age of Empires 2, Rosetta wouldn't help you out any as neither of those games were native to OS X. At least under OS X, they needed to be run in "Classic" mode, which was only available up to OS X 10.4. I can also speak from experience and say that RT2 is "buggy" running under Classic, and is much better running natively in OS 9.

    You could probably get them to run on an OS 9 emulator like Sheepsaver.

    For me, I keep an iMac G3 running OS 9.2.2 for old games. There are better an faster systems that can run OS 9 natively(I have several of them) but the iMac is more than enough and the old games I like work perfectly on it.
  10. MichaelLAX macrumors 6502a

    Oct 31, 2011
    For historical accuracy: Apple's license to use the technology underlying Rosetta expired with the release of OS X Lion. IBM acquired the underlying rights from the originating company in the interim and it is doubtful that they would have relicensed it on financial terms that would have made economic sense to Apple, even if Apple had be willing to do so.
  11. pedromcm.pm macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2014
    Porto, Portugal

    I think that the Mac, despite better than ever, is on its way out.

    Imagine this: iOS as an ecosystem is insanely powerful, like OS X never was. Just like Apple has a different build for the iPad, they could have one for PCs. The renaissance of the iBook.

    There wouldn't need to be an emulator for x86 code. Just use some tricks, like always promoting apps that support swift and all devices (phones, tablets AND computers).

    The performance is already there: iOS devices are insanely fast, have the most powerful ecosystem, are supported for years and years, would provide better battery life and more advanced form factors, etc.

    Apple could even led the charge with their own pro apps and legitimize the platform for professionals.

    This is coming for the owner of a 2011 i7 MBAir. I believe that iOS is reaching the point that it has a lot more to offer, some stuff that OS X never truly had.
  12. HerbieMac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2014
    I know IBM bought the company, but I hadn't heard that the license expired with Lion. Any source for that?
  13. MichaelLAX macrumors 6502a

    Oct 31, 2011
    Do I have to provide that information under penalty of perjury, too! :D

    Quite honestly, in the last three years since Lion dumped Rosetta, you would have to trace back my posts to find the original source cite.

    But in any event, Apple actions, in making Rosetta optional in Snow Leopard and then not available at all in Lion and the ensuing chaos that resulted in 2011 after Lion's release; and Apple's continued refusal to relent and provide Rosetta for Lion, would provide firm circumstantial evidence of that fact.

    And certainly, it is well know that IBM's plans for the PowerPC platform, and their near monopoly acquisition of all things PPC, would dictate their refusal to relicense the technology underlying Rosetta to Apple at any reasonable price.
  14. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Broadwell ULV chips far more likely.

    They will want the good graphics to run the upcoming retina displays on these and the broadwell graphics seems to be the best way to do that with lower power usage.
  15. HerbieMac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2014
    I don't think this is relevant. He's pretty clearly talking about a timeframe past Broadwell.
  16. HerbieMac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2014
  17. iMacmatician, Sep 18, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2014

    iMacmatician macrumors 601

    Jul 20, 2008
  18. crsh1976 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2011
    I'm not sure what the actual need for this is, going with ARM just means longer-lasting batteries at the cost of running x86 apps; just get a keyboard dock/cover for your iPad and that's essentially your ARM-powered MBA right there.
  19. SmOgER macrumors 6502a

    Jun 2, 2014
    The i5-4260U from current MBA has TDP of 15W.
    That's as far as I'am concerned includes GPU and is calculated under full load.

    There isn't much room left to go below that is it...
    At this point W consumption returns are extremely diminishing even when sacrificing computing power. Apple MAY go arm route with next-next gen MBA, but IMO it's extremely unlikely that they will choose this platform for more powerful machines.
  20. HerbieMac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2014
    There is plenty of room to go below that when you contrast average vs max power and take into account that apple could likely squeeze all the major chips on the main board into 1 5W package. This isn't about plugging an arm into a cpu socket. You can integrate everything into one SoC and get the benefit of integration. Plus customization - they will be able to do what their competitors cannot.
  21. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    You're talking about max power. Under typical conditions (light web browsing, etc.) these new Haswells use between 0.5 and 1.0 watts. You can check this using Intel's power gadget.

    So the best possible result of improving CPU power is reducing system power by maybe 1W. I figure that would give you roughly an extra 20% of battery life. Definitely not worth the trouble.

    The only reason I can see Apple switching to ARM is as a cost cutting measure... they seem to use Intel chips that all cost $200+ in their devices. Could really help them out financially if they switched to A-whatever chips that cost them maybe $20 instead.

    But then there's a performance question... The A8 might be great for some light web surfing but otherwise, I have tested my iPhone 5S and it's about as fast as a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo at integer and floating point tasks. Impressive, yes. But for a laptop, no. We'd be going backwards 4-5 years at least.

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