The new ARM based Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by dogslobber, Oct 11, 2015.

  1. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    If it can run OSX and OSX Server, then probably. For TM Backups, my small webserver needs, etc.

    Of course it would also need to be priced considerably lower than the current base Mini OR if priced the same, would need to have some additional bells and whistles (i.e. multiple hard drives, different form factor).
  2. Fancuku macrumors 65816


    Oct 8, 2015
    PA, USA
  3. tubular macrumors 6502


    Oct 19, 2011
    Q: "Would you buy a leprechaun-powered kitchen mixer?"

    A: "I'll only start thinking about that question when there is more than a one in one billionth chance that such a thing will actually be made. Sorta like the ARM Mac Mini."
  4. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    Who says there will be one? ARM isn't ready to run OSX. Even if they built one, there are all those apps written for Intel. I wouldn't consider one.
  5. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    I think you mistyped "Apple TV" as "Mac Mini" :)

    I'd love something like a Raspberry Pi but with a beefier CPU, builtin power supply and without the I/O bottlenecks of the Pi (everything goes via USB 2...) - would be great as a little 'home server' - but I don't think that's a priority for Apple.

    Seriously, though, the obvious application for an ARM-based mac would be something like the MacBook, where the emphasis is on power consumption and heat, and where nobody is likely to buy one to run Adobe CS or Final Cut Pro...

    ARM-based Macs aren't such a dumb idea: most recently-written software in ObjC would just re-compile, the problem would be getting the likes of Microsoft and Adobe to port their big 'legacy' Applications (but hands up who isn't now striving for a bit less MS and Adobe in their life?) The only reason there aren't any desktop-class ARMs is that there hasn't been a market for them... but they're now dabbling in ARM for servers. Of course, the original ~1987 ARM was a workstation-class chip that wiped the floor with it's contemporary the Intel 286 - but in those days, moreso than today, if it didn't run Windows, it wasn't getting in.
  6. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Yet Microsoft found a way to have apps working across their ARM and X86 machines with Windows 10. And Apple found away to make PowerPC apps work after the switch to Intel X86 (remember Rosetta?). Will everything work? No. but to say they won't work is a bit short sighted. And don't forget, Apple will make the ARM processors in the Mini if they did, so it isn't outside the realm for them to add some kind of X86 hardware translator? Think Transmeta back 10 years ago....

    Do I think this will happen? Probably not. At least not anytime soon, but at this point (especially since Apple would build the processor), it is not outside the realm of possibility and the gap between possible and likely is shrinking by the year.
  7. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    I wouldn't be surprised if Apple have OS X running on ARM in some locked back room somewhere off Infinite Loop (right next to the Intel-based iPad prototype)... Just as they always had OS X running on Intel.

    ...yes, so-called 'Modern' (or "the UI formerly known as 'Metro'") apps, not regular Windows application. Its probably fairer to say that Windows 10 desktop can also run mobile apps. MS's ARM-based products haven't exactly been a big success, partly because of the paucity of apps. AFAIK the MS Surface tablets are all Intel powered now. Problem is, Microsoft's main selling point is the ability to run regular Windows Apps.

    However, in Apple's case, a Mac that could also run iOS Apps might be a winner that would outweigh the lack of some OS X apps, at least at the MacBook end of the market.

    ...and ditto when they went from 68k to PowerPC. However, that's easy when you're moving to a more powerful processor and (unless, maybe, you were coming from a top-of-the-range G5 cheesegrater) the move to Intel was an upgrade for most people. Of course, Apple could probably work with ARM to produce an Intel-killer if they really wanted to (but not trivial).
  8. Andres Cantu macrumors 68030

    Andres Cantu

    May 31, 2015
    Rio Grande Valley in South Texas
    Only if the entry-level price is drastically reduced, since Intel Core i5 chips cost a fortune compared to Apple's A-chips.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Unless it will run the Mac OS and all my older applications, NO, I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole.
  10. mcnallym macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008
    They have been having rumours of ARM prototypes in the lab for years now. Just as they had OSX on Intel well before was launch. I would not be at all surprised if they have this in the lab and working.

    Would need to be able to run Intel Apps though as well and how well would it do that.

    Other then as a good incentive to keep Intel CPU development going, couldn't see it happening though.

    With the Core M being available and being pretty good then would personally see the Mini migrating to that rather then ARM. Biggest thing there would be cost.
  11. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Various NAS units run with ARM processors and yet, the better performing ones jumped over to Intel CPUs. There is a reason.

    Not to offend author of the original OP, but why would one take steps backwards in technology? Until the ARM is on par with Intel, or for that matter AMD, it would remain an anemic performer. Perhaps a quad ARM processor makes sense when in use with a Sigma chip for a new Apple Entertainment puck (ATV done right).
  12. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Seriously people, understand your CPU history....

    Putting a hardware X86 translator into a CPU has already been done (15 years ago!) and since Apple designs their only ARM CPU's, there is no reason they couldn't do this with the A10 (maybe call it A10+). It would be able to run all X86 (i.e. Intel) applications just fine and not be a software solution so it would be fairly fast. Before anyone points out that Transmeta CPU's were slow, they also didn't have the resources that Apple does....
  13. DailySlow macrumors regular


    Aug 5, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    Yes, a translator engine.
  14. alien3dx macrumors 6502a


    Feb 12, 2017
  15. anthorumor macrumors 6502a

    Jun 16, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Sure, providing it mimics the same if not better performance as a good i5 or i7 processor.
  16. Yvan256 macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2004
    As long as it costs a lot less and can run my current applications as fast as my Core 2 Duo. Given the cost of Intel CPUs, I wouldn't be surprised if Apple could lower the price by USD$200 and still put two "A10" or an 8-core "A11" or something inside it. Could be twice as fast as the i5 for maybe 10~20% of the cost of the Intel CPU. Don't forget a Mac mini doesn't run on a battery and can have active cooling, like the Apple TV 4K. It could probably be clocked (much) higher than an iPad Pro.
  17. twalk macrumors regular

    Apr 22, 2009
    If lower cost is the thing, the "low-end junk" Kaby Lake Pentium 'S' series chip runs about $85 (much, much above list price), but it's faster than the high-end i7 2014 Mini. However there's no chance for Apple to use a Pentium part, so you'll have to deal with much older and slower and more expensive i7 mobile part......
  18. EightyTwenty macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2015
    It's funny that everyone is concerned with MacOS, considering it probably won't exists 10 years from now.

    I see Apple moving iOS (or some kind of hybrid built on iOS) to MacBooks and iMacs within that time period.

    So no ARM Mac Mini (because three won't be another mini) but you'll definitely see Apple chips in MacBooks before too long. That is 100% guaranteed. Only a matter of time.
  19. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    I guarantee you that Apple has a macOS port running on ARM, and has done since 2005-2007 or so.

    How do i know this? Because iOS is essentially macOS with a different UI on it. macOS would have been running on ARM before iOS existed - in order for iOS to be developed.

    So your "ARM isn't ready to run OS X" comment is kinda off base.

    ARM processors have a history in desktop computers - the original ARM CPUs were designed to run in desktop workstations and back in the day they were way faster than PCs.

  20. Chatran macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2013
    If it is cheaper and able to run those free software like libreoffice, firefox, macports, etc, I would.
  21. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I would agree... but let's be fair here. This thread has risen from the dead and you are quoting a post that was made two years ago. Maybe he has changed his mind since then? ;)
  22. Falhófnir macrumors 68040


    Aug 19, 2017
    It’d almost certainly be better while also a lot cooler/ more power efficient than the current 4th gen chips on offer...
  23. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Odds are it would also be able to run a lot of modern Mac-native software in ObjC or Swift that uses Apple frameworks once the publishers had (in effect, if not literally) re-compiled it with the "ARM support" checkbox ticked in Xcode.

    The problem would be big applications stuffed with legacy code like Photoshop CS that reliably break every tine there is a MacOS x86 upgrade, let alone a change of processor architecture. Apple have used emulators and code translators in the past (for the 68k to PPC and PPC to x86 transitions) but that was usually accompanied by a significant jump in CPU power - X86 on any currently available ARM might be a bit sluggish.

    Current ARMs probably cant compete with the more powerful desktop i5 and i7 chips - and while they have seen some applications in supercomputers I believe that is mainly as "control" processors for more exotic vector processors (much in the way that the "Cell" processor used in the PlayStation a few years back used PPC). However, that doesn't mean that workstation-class ARM chips couldn't be developed, and the brilliance of ARMs business model is that it allows 3rd parties to build 'pick'n'mix' chips or just license the architecture.

    Overall - I think ARM-based Macs are a lot more feasible than some people think, although I still wouldn't hold my breath. Alsom as @throAU said - I'd be very, very surprised if Apple don't have MacOS running on an ARM in some back room somewhere.

    Meanwhile - how many ARM processors are there already in a modern Mac? I think its been established that there's one in the touchbar, there's probably one in the SSD...?
  24. NoBoMac macrumors 68020


    Jul 1, 2014
    Seem to recall seeing an article somewhere re: they do have lab machines on ARM.

    Apple did release the ARM MacOS kernel this week as open-source:

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