what's going to happen to Intel macs after the transition period?

ipos

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 4, 2011
1,003
84
a few years is a broad term..no specific period given.
think i will get for new ARM macs to be out before purchasing
 

verticalines

macrumors newbie
Mar 12, 2015
28
13
It'll still work. You just won't get the latest MacOS update whenever they stop supporting it. They'll release critical security patches as necessary for past versions of MacOS. You would need to upgrade to the new platform if a newer version of program X is ARM-only but otherwise the old should not be affected and free to keep on running for years after.

Same situation when Apple drops software support for older Macs and iPhones--they don't become useless overnight but that's the end of the road for that machine.
 

steve1960

macrumors regular
Sep 23, 2014
246
215
Singapore
It will just get tricky to pick a reliable product that is still supported. If you have a dilemma about choosing a Mac without butterfly keyboard and GPU problems add to that the inevitable early life problems with ARM chips and you will have a huge headache as will I.
 

Tech198

macrumors G5
Mar 21, 2011
14,946
1,934
Australia, Perth
Eventually, i reckon, all apps will be ARM only... it'll take time..

Look at what happened during the PowerPC to Intel tradition of 2005/2006. This should be an estimate. Based on that, i don't think the this transition phase would be any different. They has Rosetta back then during the phase which Apple soon dismissed after they were confident most/all developers made it over, and the same will happen here with Apple Silicon.

Intel Macs would be still around, as Apple say at the keynote, "in years come", its not like they're gonna pull the pull at the end of the year or two. I thought they said new Intel Macs were comming anyway... WHy would they do new Intel Macs if they were just going to stop ?
 
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steve1960

macrumors regular
Sep 23, 2014
246
215
Singapore
Eventually, i reckon, all apps will be ARM only... it'll take time..

Look at what happened during the PowerPC to Intel tradition of 2005/2006. This should be an estimate.
I agree and as you say 'don't cut off the hand that feeds you'. These kind of transitions will happen over a long period so as not to alienate customers.
 
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pollycat

macrumors member
Sep 27, 2004
49
54
The PowerPC to Intel transition was announced in summer 2005.
All Macs had switched to Intel versions by late 2006.
The last PowerPC OSX version was 10.5 Leopard, released in October 2007.
The first OSX version for Intel only was 10.6 Snow Leopard, released in August 2009.

Thus, in the last transition, PowerPC users could use the "latest" OSX version until August 2009 = four years after the announcement of the switch.

Given that today's install-base of Intel Macs is much larger than the PowerPC install base back in 2005, I'm guessing Intel Mac users can expect new versions of MacOS to run on Intel machines for at least the same length of time (i.e. around 4-5 years, possibly 6.)

So, I would predict the following:
Announcement of ARM switch = Summer 2020.
All Macs switched to ARM = Summer 2022.
Last Intel version of MacOS = 2024.
First ARM-only MacOS = 2025.

Meaning, Intel Mac users should be able to remain "current" until 2025 and their machines would still be perfectly usable beyond then until at least 2026/27. By which time many would be looking to buy a new machine anyway, even if the switch weren't happening.
 

steve1960

macrumors regular
Sep 23, 2014
246
215
Singapore
The PowerPC to Intel transition was announced in summer 2005.
All Macs had switched to Intel versions by late 2006.
The last PowerPC OSX version was 10.5 Leopard, released in October 2007.
The first OSX version for Intel only was 10.6 Snow Leopard, released in August 2009.

Thus, in the last transition, PowerPC users could use the "latest" OSX version until August 2009 = four years after the announcement of the switch.

Given that today's install-base of Intel Macs is much larger than the PowerPC install base back in 2005, I'm guessing Intel Mac users can expect new versions of MacOS to run on Intel machines for at least the same length of time (i.e. around 4-5 years, possibly 6.)

So, I would predict the following:
Announcement of ARM switch = Summer 2020.
All Macs switched to ARM = Summer 2022.
Last Intel version of MacOS = 2024.
First ARM-only MacOS = 2025.

Meaning, Intel Mac users should be able to remain "current" until 2025 and their machines would still be perfectly usable beyond then until at least 2026/27. By which time many would be looking to buy a new machine anyway, even if the switch weren't happening.

Well done excellent summary. Anyone worried about the ARM transition read THIS
 

Realityck

macrumors regular
Nov 9, 2015
165
100
Silicon Valley, CA
So, I would predict the following:
Announcement of ARM switch = Summer 2020.
All Macs switched to ARM = Summer 2022.
Last Intel version of MacOS = 2024.
First ARM-only MacOS = 2025.

Meaning, Intel Mac users should be able to remain "current" until 2025 and their machines would still be perfectly usable beyond then until at least 2026/27. By which time many would be looking to buy a new machine anyway, even if the switch weren't happening.
As much as people make fun of intel not pumping out processors ever faster, how do we really know that meeting those ARM performance goals are also attainable. Suppose this is nothing but testing the waters then the big switch? Not all Mac's have been good designs irregardless of the CPU.
 

GoYankees

macrumors newbie
Dec 17, 2012
24
4

...
So, I would predict the following:
Announcement of ARM switch = Summer 2020.
All Macs switched to ARM = Summer 2022.
Last Intel version of MacOS = 2024.
First ARM-only MacOS = 2025.
...
This timeline is possible. It also means that any 2021 Intel Mac will get its last update a scant 5 years later. Sure it’s “years to come”, but a lot less than the norm. Ex. A 2012 Mac Mini will be supported till 2021 by comparison, 9 years.
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
9,718
3,579


This timeline is possible. It also means that any 2021 Intel Mac will get its last update a scant 5 years later. Sure it’s “years to come”, but a lot less than the norm. Ex. A 2012 Mac Mini will be supported till 2021 by comparison, 9 years.
That timing is about on par with the last Power Mac G5s, so 5 years sounds pretty reasonable to me.
 

Matrix1776

macrumors newbie
Jan 28, 2020
17
3
I'm curious, I just bought a new $6,000 Macbook Pro 16" before the announcement. My "theory" was that it would still maintain great resell, for the fact that it's the last that'll support boot camp.

But do you think I should do everything possible to get it returned?! My goal is obviously to sell in ~3 years, as is routine with my laptops. I would be devastated if it had no usability.

My thought is also that the Mac Pro buyers that spent $10-50,000 will shortly have a lifespan indefinitely. Or at least same as the 2013 Mac Pro which is still going strong. I don't know that ARM will replace "real" Professional machines.
 

calderone

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2009
3,721
174
Seattle
It’s 9AM the day after the final Mac has been transitioned to ARM. You open the curtains, hundreds of objects in the sky glinting in the morning sun. Aluminum? A Mac Pro flies past your window, the cheese grater holes whistling. What can this be?

You open your windows to get a better look. You hear some rustling behind you and turn quickly. Your Intel Macs have disconnected themselves and float toward the window. You try to grab them but you don’t have the strength. As you stand watching in disbelief, you turn on the TV. Tim Cook is on, he says all Intel Macs have been recalled to Apple Park. But don’t worry, you’ve been charged full price for a new ARM replacement and it will arrive in a few days.
 

steve1960

macrumors regular
Sep 23, 2014
246
215
Singapore
And when it does arrive the silicon and software will be riddled with bugs and you will not have the strength to recover from a major catastrophe and you will turn to the dark side............. MS Windows.
 
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steve1960

macrumors regular
Sep 23, 2014
246
215
Singapore
We probably over think this he says typing away on his late 2009 MacBook White which surely doesn't have an ARM chip in it.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,652
456
Redondo Beach, California
I'm curious, I just bought a new $6,000 Macbook Pro 16" before the announcement. My "theory" was that it would still maintain great resell, for the fact that it's the last that'll support boot camp.

But do you think I should do everything possible to get it returned?! My goal is obviously to sell in ~3 years, as is routine with my laptops. I would be devastated if it had no usability.

My thought is also that the Mac Pro buyers that spent $10-50,000 will shortly have a lifespan indefinitely. Or at least same as the 2013 Mac Pro which is still going strong. I don't know that ARM will replace "real" Professional machines.
Likely in 5 years Apple will stop supporting the Intel Mac with new macOS versions. The resale value of Macs plummet if they can't run the current version of macOS. This will happen in 5 years. But if your plan is to sell in 3 years you might be OK.
 

BeatCrazy

macrumors 68020
Jul 20, 2011
2,090
912
Likely in 5 years Apple will stop supporting the Intel Mac with new macOS versions. The resale value of Macs plummet if they can't run the current version of macOS. This will happen in 5 years. But if your plan is to sell in 3 years you might be OK.
The issue with resell value of Intel Macs won’t be can they run the latest macOS, rather how they run. When the ARM Macs come out, we’ll say goodbye to beach balls, fan noise, and crazy heat. Who will want an Intel Mac when they can experience just how smooth an ARM Mac will run?
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,652
456
Redondo Beach, California
The issue with resell value of Intel Macs won’t be can they run the latest macOS, rather how they run. When the ARM Macs come out, we’ll say goodbye to beach balls, fan noise, and crazy heat. Who will want an Intel Mac when they can experience just how smooth an ARM Mac will run?
Didyou see the benchmarks? The Arm is quiate a lot slower then even an older Intel mac. Yes the new Mac will have a different chip but the Arm will not double in speed this year. Arm is already reasonably mature and the speed increases will be modest. I doubt it will ever catch up to Intel. Again look at the benchmark data over the last 10 years.

Where the Arm wins is in when you measure "compute power" per unit of "electrical power". The Arm use less batery power compared to Intel.

But 99% of all Mac users don't need a faster Mac. What are they doing? Watching Youtube, reading emails and posting ti Instagram. They can do all that with an iPhone and will be happy to use an iPhone chip in their Mac.

The reduction in battery usage will be a good thing for most people but there are some people who create "content". aye they edit film or run 3D CAD software. These few people will loose but many will move to Windows or Linux

For the mainstream market putting the iPhone's CPU in the Mac will work just fine
 

Takuro

macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2009
501
166
I don't think it's right to draw comparisons to the PowerPC to Intel transition. I think that even though the two scenarios bear similarities, it's a pretty different situation this time around.

In 2005, PowerPC was a niche architecture for personal computers outside of Apple, and the most powerful processor was the G5, which didn't perform all that well and wasn't even suitable for laptops due to thermals. It was the final nail in the coffin since Apple literally had no suitable processor on the roadmap for many of its products. Even though many claim that the PowerPC architecture has untapped potential and is much more powerful than x86 in many respects, it simply didn't translate to real-world performance. (Even though it would continue to live on in products like the PS3, many manufacturers would later abandon it for similar reasons.) Apple was truly in a position where their top-of-the-line, newest PowerMacs were destined for obsolesce in a short timeframe as Intel Core processors dominated the market and x86 performance continued steadily adhering to Moore's Law through the mid 2000's.

Today is a very different situation. Apple is starting off on an industry-standard architecture of x86. Like many other vendors, they are upset with Intel over delays in product roadmaps and postponed promises of smaller die sizes. When it comes to the high-end of computing where thermals and power consumption aren't a concern, Intel is actually in a fine position still, even though AMD has pulled ahead. Regardless of whether it's Intel or AMD silicon, x86 is no longer adhering to Moore's Law, but on the flip side, most operating system software also hasn't really become too much more demanding at the CPU level over the last decade, so Moore's Law has had decreased visibility and focus. Graphics processing is now the focus. For laptops and low-power devices, Intel is starting to fall pretty far behind, however, both at the CPU and GPU compute side of things. This time around, it's not a matter of Apple not having any option for the roadmap of future laptops, it's a matter of things not moving fast enough to their liking, especially for portables.

I think it would not be outside the realm of possibility to really get 5-7 years of updates for Intel machines this time around versus the barely 2 years of support PowerPC got. Apple is coming from an architecture that's still very strong and still has vitality to it, but it's just not moving as fast as they'd like when thinking ahead for the next decade, especially for portables. And it remains to be seen if Apple silicon will ever be a match for something like an Radeon 5700XT or other high end graphics that prosumers need, but it probably won't be any time soon if ever, as annual discrete GPU performance boosts are now the new Moore's Law. The Intel Mac Pro, Apple's expensive and customizable desktop tower, will effectively keep x86 alive for the "years to come."
 
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