When will we see an ARM Macbook Air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by osx11, Oct 30, 2013.


When will we see an ARM MacBook Air?

  1. 2014

    2 vote(s)
  2. 2015

    6 vote(s)
  3. 2016

    5 vote(s)
  4. After 2016

    4 vote(s)
  5. Never

    31 vote(s)
  1. osx11 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2011
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Hopefully never. Look at the unmitigated disaster that windows 8 RT is. I would say the something will occur. If Apple were leave the intel platform (as opposed to producing a second ARM computer line), I would then probably look for a different solution as I have little desire to go on to an inferior chip set.
  3. glasshead13 macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2013
    I wouldn't really call ARM an "inferior chipset" I was reading yesterday that the A7 is comparable to 2009 top end iMacs, and a quad core A8 could compare to new macbook airs, all in the size of your phone.

    Today, yes ARM is still a little behind Intel, but in another 2 or 3 years I wouldn't be surprised to see that small gap disappear.

    However I still would not welcome a change to ARM architecture. It would require complete rewrites of everything, the OS, the apps, etc. There would be a significant period of time where we would have to choose to either stay on older hardware to use our apps, or sacrifice some of the apps we use to have the newest hardware.

    I think that however, this day will eventually come. ARM will catch the performance of Intel, and at that point it would almost be silly not to switch architectures. ARM is much smaller, produces much less heat, is much more efficient, etc. ARM is actually far superior to most Intel chipsets for those reasons. It is only still lacking in clock speed, and honestly not by much when you consider the size limitations of ARM chips. Plus that gap will lessen over the next couple of years.
  4. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    It would not require a complete rewrite of the OS. Modern operating systems are written in languages like C, and the compiler can handle which hardware target to run on. Apps would need reompile, and some tweaking.

    Besides IOS is a derivative of OSx, so Apple has already done a lot of the work.
  5. glasshead13 macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Maybe they have made the OS "transition ready" as much as possible over the years in anticipation of the switch, but they have not readied developers apps.

    And I don't want a bunch of iOS apps on my Mac. There is a reason they have different design paradigms, one is based on touch, the other on KB/M
  6. Atomic Walrus macrumors 6502a

    Sep 24, 2012
    I didn't vote on this (having trouble separating my wants from my predictions), but as a Boot Camp user I have to hope this isn't the direction Macs are going.

    That said, I think it's likely to happen at some point. The 13" rMBP is now in Air territory (compare some pricing options on BTO) in basically every way. I expect it'll be at 3 lbs next year as well. This leaves room for the Air to become the iPad-MBP bridge, which could mean anything from convertible touch screen to ARM SOCs. More powerful ones than found in the iPad, obviously.

    Rumors of the 12" retina Air (replacing 11" and 13") next year point us in this direction. Maybe not in 2014, but it's always hard to say what Apple's been hiding in their R&D labs.
  7. osx11, Oct 30, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013

    osx11 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2011
    What if touch and keyboard/mouse merge?

    I'm not saying they will, definitely not like Microsoft's Surface, but I have a feeling Apple has something up their sleeves....
  8. glasshead13 macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Yes, as I said, I believe that in time, we will see a unification of ARM and the operating systems.

    However, personally, I am saying, I don't necessarily want that to happen. I prefer my phone and iPad to work in the way that they do, and OS X to work in the traditional way that it does.
  9. osx11 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2011
    Yes, but imagine booting OSX from your phone with external display....seems far fetched now.....but I can see apple going in such a direction. What do you think?
  10. iAppl3Fan macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    I couldn't agree with you more. I sign on the apple bandwagon knowing I can use my hardware with Windows when I need to. It's a luxury I'm not willing to give up. The ARM architecture is no where close to the Intel platform in terms of power.
  11. bit density macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2004
    If they did this, they would sell a buttload of the last x86 MacBooks.
  12. glasshead13 macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Yes, there will no doubt be some great new features and things that can be done. I can almost picture your main machine at home being extremely powerful, and connected to iCloud. You access the machine from any number of devices, iPhones, iPad, Macs, etc. from anywhere in the world that you have a data connection. The auxiliary devices would last forever because they aren't doing any of the processing locally, they are just "streaming" the content, so battery life would be awesome, speed would be awesome, and the devices would be incredibly thin and lightweight. You would also have access to the full power of a home desktop on your mobile device, and all of your data, media, etc. would be accessible at all times. I think that right now there are some limitations to this idea like data caps from providers, and data coverage, but over time they will become more and more of non issues for the majority of people. I think that a setup like this would be pretty amazing honestly. And luckily apple is forward thinking enough that they will push the tech when it's mostly available to the majority of people. They are not going to wait for 100% LTE coverage in America, just like they didn't wait for 100% decline of the floppy drive or the CD drive.

    I hope apple can come up with a cooler device/hybrid than the surface. I don't really like it much to be honest, but that's me. I just don't think that an iPad/macbook type combo is what apple wants, nor what people want. I have never wanted to reach out and touch my macbooks to use them, but holding an iPad, I love using the touch interface. They are just used in two different ways, and I think there has to be some better way of combining them. I remember a ways back talk of a projected laser type of keyboard where a device could be set down and a keyboard projected in front of it for use. I think something like this would be far cooler than a keyboard attachment. Guess we will see where it all goes in the next few years.
  13. osx11 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2011
    I think at least some of this will become reality within this decade. Right now they are "only" achieving energy consumption reductions, just imagine if they also figure out a new battery technology. Amazing times ahead.....
  14. iRun26.2, Oct 30, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013

    iRun26.2 macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2010
    Me too. No way to access Windows software... means no new MacBook (Anything) for me. There are just too many old programs (some 5 years old) that I must sometimes use for work.

    ARM may be closing in on Intel in prrformance but it can not in any way emulate x86 code fast enough for my needs.
  15. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
  16. HarryWarden macrumors 6502a

    Oct 27, 2012
    Other than select Google Chrome laptops, are there any actual laptops that use ARM? The only ones I know of are the Samsung Chromebook and the new HP Chromebook 11 and they use the same Exynos ARM architecture.
  17. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    Just how in this huge wide world of rational beings did you come up with that nonsense? RTs failure had absolutely nothing to do with the chosen chipset.
    It should be pretty clear now that there is nothing inferior about ARMs 64 bit architecture. Considering A7 is Apples first crack at a 64 bit architecture, it is an amazing chip that gives up very little to the competition.

    Now if you had said I need i86 compatibility to run other OS's in a VM I might have supported you. As it is though you just let out a lot of gas over nothing.
  18. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    This I agree with, the chip is hardly inferior. People need to remember these performance figures come from a chip running at an extremely slow clock rate.
    There will come a time where you will see very little performance difference between an Intel Core and an ARM one running on the same production node.
    I'm not sure where that nonsense comes from. First UNiX is a portable OS, second the core of iOS is the same core that powers Mac OS. IOS is very much a UNIX platform also. Running Mac OS on ARM is nothing more that a recompile and a few bug fixes. Just look at how easy it is for developers to move from 32 bit ARM to 64 bit.
    Well that is always the case with new hardware but the lack of immediate iPad software did not stop the take up of iPad. In any event I would expect that developers could push out ARM based versions of their apps within hours of an ARM based Mac announcement.
    That day may come sooner than you think.
    We don't even know what the top end speed is on the A7. 1.4 GHz is actually pretty slow for many ARM designs. There might be another 100Ghz of head room in the chip. Of course higher clock rates imply more heat but it is still possible to beat Intel here.
  19. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    As have many of us! Not so much Windows as any alternative OS. The problem is Windows is quickly becoming a legacy OS just like the OS's for the Apple 2 and Commodore computers of the past. At some point in the future it just won't matter.

    As to your comment about the ARM architecture, that depends. It is pretty clear that ARM 64 is pretty impressive and is likely held back more by I/O capability in the current A7 than anything. ARM 64 is really nothing like ARM 32 which indeed lagged Intel a bit.
  20. Animalk macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2007
    Montreal Canada
    I would put my money on them arriving in the next 3 years. Intel has started preparing to become an ARM manufacturer.

    Apple will do the right thing and have full OS X compatibility on the chips unlike th disaster that is Surface RT.

    Speculation: OS XI or iOS X (whatever direction they end up going with the merge of both platforms) will be ARM only.
  21. skaertus macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
    Hopefully never.

    I don't want the Mac to turn into an useless iPad.
  22. Chalifornia macrumors newbie

    Oct 22, 2011
    I used to think that an ARM chip in an MBA would be like the M7 is in the 5S, and could be left to handle peripheral or power nap functions, but now I think all that will be handled by ever better low power modes in the main processor.
    If Intel is chosen by apple to make their custom ARM 64 processors with 3D transistors, then a switch could be made.

    I don't believe it will happen, however, as I think apple's philosophy would have them switch the whole lineup at the same time. Therefore there won't be an MBA running on ARM architecture until there is a Mac Pro doing the same, that is the real question.

    Until then it will be ARM in ipad/iphone/TV and intell in everything bigger.
  23. beautifulcoder macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2013
    The Republic of Texas
    Let's see. Intel recently announced they will be manufacturing ARM. All the while Apple has already signed a deal with Samsung to make the A8 chip in 2014. Guess what? Intel might have a big job to do once Apple goes ARM in their laptops.
  24. mattferg macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013
    Please link the article that compares the A7 to a top end 2009 iMac, as it's absolute nonsense. The current Intel Atoms are more powerful than the A7, and they haven't reached the iMacs quite yet.

    Oh, and by the time ARM reaches Intel's current performance level, Intel would've LONG reached ARM's power consumption levels.

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