Predicting nMB lets me recall the topic of Arm based Mac, will it happen or never?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by jovi.jia, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. jovi.jia macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2014
    Apple made so many trade-offs on nMB that introduce a lots of topics to us. Here, with the slim body & low performance (relatively) implementation, makes me thinking of Arm based Mac which has been mettioned so many times. There are many in common, and exchangable points. so, are we close to such a machine or never? Here are my thoughts:

    From tech & design's aspect:
    1, even iPhone6 surports 4K screen. GPU is ok.
    2, with SMP, two or more Arms can replace Core M. (performance, batteries, peripherals etc. are ok)
    3, with iOS App Store, OS & SW, would be much easier to transfer from Intel -> Arm than PPC -> Intel
    4, iPhone, iPad, Mac together could get the same CPU features.
    5, definitely could keep it slim

    From Apple's aspect:
    1, control products evolution cycles
    2, cut the cost, make more money
    3, Leading a new "Arm inside" PC market.
    4, MB is independent line now, expandable. I mean, it would not hurt Mac if failed.

    Upper aspects makes me believe it will happen.
    But on the other way, I can conlcude it will not happen.

    From Apple's aspect:
    1, cooperate with Intel, all Macs are growing steadily up. minimize risks.
    2, High end still rely on Intel, so unneccessory to make Macs two splited systems.
    3, If Arm could not catch up with revolving steps of Core M, this would be a weak(relatively) machine.
    4, The most important point, they don't want design such a computer.

    Then what are your opinions?
  2. Vanilla Face macrumors 6502

    Aug 11, 2013
    I wouldn't say never, but it won't happen in the next 5 years. Anything beyond that is too far away to predict.
  3. nksk, Mar 26, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2015

    nksk macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2014
    "Never" is too strong. There's always the off chance Intel starts putting out bad products...

    That said, the way things are going now, not going to happen. Intel has managed to bring the Core line of CPU's down to a power level that allows for a fanless laptop. There's no reason to try to mindlessly force even lower power levels than 3,5 - 5W, and we'll get back to chasing higher performance in subsequent generations.

    2. The problem is there's now no reason at all to do that. And you can't ignore single core performance completely - there are many important tasks that aren't parallelizable.

    3. Like above, there's no reason to go through even that amount of trouble. And in the reverse direction, an Intel laptop CPU is fast enough to emulate mobile CPU's.

    1. Nope, they'd just be at the mercy of their own process shrinks rather than Intel's. This assumes they can progress faster than Intel, which absolutely no one has been able to do for 20 years.

    2. Designing and producing the CPU is not free. Even if they could match Intel, it would probably turn out that paying Intel is cheaper.

    3. What marketing benefit could this possibly have? Consumers don't care. If anything, it would make Apple products more confusing.

    4. Yes it would.
  4. Pootan macrumors member


    Oct 28, 2014
    It's extremely unlikely due to the different instruction set (RISC for arm vs CISC for x86). It means while x86 intel chips can handle certain IO natively for example, or other types of specialized instructions, while ARM has a more generalized set of instructions. This means the many years of development in assembly level optimizations that make OS X great in x86 will have to be translated under a different set of machine code for ARM.

    They already have iOS for the arm market. It'll make more sense to make a new iOS pro kind of operating system than port.
  5. danielwerner macrumors regular


    Oct 27, 2012
    Stockholm, Sweden
    If apple went to ARM-processors, wouldn't lots of apps and programs stop working (until recoded completely by the developers)?
  6. jovi.jia thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2014
    not faster, iPhone can be updated in a year period, so could be mac, maybe one year and half. Apple could make a reliable roadmap and revenue prodiction. much useful

    each Arm cpu costs $40 , Core M costs $281, Apple would save $200+ from each laptop.
    And we all know Apple Arm R&D is afforded by iPhone & iPad. so the saved money is the profit.

    Consumers may get a computer could be working for two days long, even mobile module...could this mean large marketing sales?


    Yes, App Store is being used to solve multi verson apps.


    IO is the simple problem, because nMB only one universial USB.:D
    iOS pro is a good reason to make such a computer impossible.
  7. nksk macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2014
    Intel also releases new CPU's at a similar pace. If you're thinking about the 14nm delay, that's still sooner than anyone else got there. On top of that, a completely riskless roadmap would constantly lag behind the cutting edge, because you'd need to build in huge buffers of time.

    And no ARM processor can do what the Core M does. That's why you're paying $281.

    Plus, Intel's R&D is spread out over the whole Core lineup. There's no guarantee Apple could actually do lower cost development.

    Finally, design aside, if you want that kind of performance, you need Intel's cutting edge 14nm process (soon 10nm). No way around it.

    The optimal power level for an ultrabook CPU is "just low enough to be fanless". Below that, you're just throwing away performance for marginal gains, because the rest of the system becomes the critical issue. Notice how the 11" Macbook Air and 12" Macbook have nearly the same battery life despite one having a 15W CPU and the other 5W.

    Besides, an ARM chip that could reach Core M levels of performance would end up in the 3,5 - 5 W range as well. The little power you'd save would be virtually unnoticeable as part of an entire computer (rather than a phone).
  8. bjet767 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 2, 2010
    Could ARM run OSX Apps? Not without a whole lot of engineering and work.

    This topic is a bit strange and shows a fundamental lack of knowledge about how the computers differ. The most important reason for the MB is OSX and what it can do.

    If you watch the Windows stuff at all you might notice they have rejected ARM versions with great gusto. Why? Because they want the functionality of a full Windows operating experience, no limitations. Even the ATOM cpu, which is a full functioning Intel cpu, isn't enough for them.

    What we will see is the further improvement in power and ability for the low watt cpus. the rMB is just a hint at what can happen in the future; thin light and very powerful full functioning portable devices!
  9. iRun26.2 macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2010
    The future is still pretty exciting. I wonder what kind of specs we will get when Intel moves to 10nm? Maybe the power of today's MBP computers in a 5W part?
  10. MyopicPaideia macrumors 68000


    Mar 19, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Agree with most of your ideas, but just wanted to correct a couple of things here. The 11" and 13" MBA's use the same 15W processors from Intel, they have exactly the same internals. That's why the 11" has worse battery life than the 13" - because it has a smaller battery. They don't have the same battery life...

    Also, Apple's ARM chips are already at 3.5W TDP, this is what the A8X is running at. It is comparable in performance to the Intel Sandybridge Core i7 and the GPU is 2x better than the HD 4000 integrated graphics in my 2011 11" MBA. The Broadwell Core M at 5W TDP is about 25-40% more capable on the CPU front and about 15-20% more capable than the Apple A8X.

    Surprise surprise, that is about the percentage difference in wattage between the 2. If you look at this, you could ask yourself why they didn't make a version of the A8 that had a higher 5W TDP and they might have gotten very similar performance from it compared to the Broadwell Core M. It is an indication that they are going to be sticking with Intel for OSX machines for the time being.

    I think eventually you will either see Apple introduce a product line that either introduces a more professional line iOS device, bringing iOS in more direct competition with its own OSX, or you will see a convergance of iOS and OSX for certain form factor devices. I feel they will keep iPhone's and traditional iPad's on the current more restricted versions of the OS. Or maybe not, if they feel the segment is mature enough and ready for that.

    I think/hope that eventually you will have an iPhone type device you always have with you that has the computing and graphics power of today's Macbook Pro's, that interacts with various form factor thin clients wirelessly (i.e. external monitors/keyboards/peripherals). It would have a responsive UI, much like responsive websites today, allowing it to take on the most appropriate UI for the screen size/resolution it is connected to.
  11. OzyOly macrumors 6502a

    Jun 3, 2009
    Melbourne, AU
    Yes, at a cost to the developers. If the user-base for an arm-based macbook isn't finically viable, you probably wont see programs ported.
  12. nksk macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2014
    You misread. I was comparing the 11" Air and the new Macbook. They have similar battery capacities and similar endurance despite the difference in CPU power consumption. Laptop CPU's are reaching levels where the other components start dominating.
  13. MyopicPaideia macrumors 68000


    Mar 19, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Oops, sorry about that! #
  14. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Unfortunately, SMP is not a panacea. In 'everyday' computing, the most resource demand comes from one or two threads. So for a personal computer, what you really want is an asymmetric CPU — a system that can dynamically optimise its execution to either focus on a few critical threads or spread the resources over multiple ones. This is a great strength of Core M — it is actually designed with demands of 'normal' computing in mind.

    A multi-CPU ARM system might have the same multi-core Geekbench performance, but it will be behind Core M for things that are actually important to the users, like browsing.

    I am certainly not saying that ARM will never catch up to Intel. It certainly could. But for this, the ARM CPUs either need to go even more superscalar (becoming more similar to Intel's) or somehow increase their speed dramatically without sacrificing efficiency. That second part is probably impossible though due to physics.


    No. A majority of the applications just need to be recompiled. Which is a usually question of few minutes. Many applications already have much of their code base shared between iOS and OS X. Even more, OS X and iOS share the same kernel code.

    A notable exception are programs that are directly utilising machine code/assembler. But barely anyone does it nowadays.
  15. bjet767 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 2, 2010
    The issue isn't comparable performance between ARM and Intel it's the internal instruction set.

    The market has demanded full featured computers and that means OSX and Windows will run some sort of Intel based CPU. Just look at the popularity differences between Windows with Intel compared to AMD. In the end Intel outsells AMD because of compatibility issues even though they both do pretty much the same thing.

    Why would Apple move OSX to the ARM processors? There really is no advantage; but why wouldn't they start making Intel based tablets?
  16. iRun26.2 macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2010
    The loss of Windows compatibility would be a big problem with me. Maybe I'm the only one who cares, I don't know.
  17. jovi.jia, Mar 30, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015

    jovi.jia thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2014
    14nm, highly cut power consumption without loss too much performance, strong R&D power, turbo
    Quite persuasive tech advantages of Intel, but let’s show overall possibilities.

    Arm may not need 14nm as badly as Intel, A8 with 20nm is “desktop level”, what can Ax series do with 16nm? lower than 2.5w and as powerful as a i3? then double it, two Arms, fixed in a box to do daily work as Core M, the replace becomes possible, I think. Even put these presumptions away, current A8 work at 3W to construct SMP is an option too.

    Stands at Intel’s angle, every other CPU is far behind, but Arm is not on its way, it does not have to catch up or beat Intel’s CPU in every aspect. I am hoping it could became as available as Intel’s to give consumers another option.Apple’s R&D investment is quite lower than other top IT companies including Intel, but outcome is much higher. so, I am also hoping this option could be cheaper. nMB seems like the point to make this hope come true.



    Sounds nice.


    I am expecting to see how wonderful Core M's turbo feature works on Mac.

Share This Page