Apple Planning to Announce ARM Shift for Macs at WWDC

Posted on June 9, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple, Hardware, Mac and macOS, Mobile with 22 Comments

Apple has been rumoured to be working on its own ARM chips for Mac devices for a little while now. The company has been working on its own ARM-based Mac chips for years, and it could be getting ready to reveal its plans at WWDC later this month.

Codenamed Kalamata, the new project will mark a major change in Apple’s strategy for Mac hardware. For years, the company, like other computer makers, has relied on Intel chips. However, with performance gains from new Intel chips slowing down, Apple is making the move to ARM processors.

Bloomberg reports that Apple will be unveiling Kalamata at WWDC on June 22. The company will be mostly focused on developers when revealing the new project, so don’t expect to see any new hardware at the event.

Apple’s new ARM-based Mac devices will run macOS, but developers will be required to optimise their software to run on the new architecture. The technical details on how Apple plans to enable existing macOS apps to run on the new ARM-based chips is unknown at the moment.

Internal tests of Apple’s new Mac devices powered by its new ARM chips has apparently shown “sizable improvements over Intel-powered versions.” The new ARM-based chips will also enable the new Macs to be more power-efficient.

As previously reported, Apple is said to be working on at least three ARM-based Mac processors. One of the new processors is based on the A14 processor that Apple will reveal with the next iPhone, the report claims.

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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Apple Planning to Announce ARM Shift for Macs at WWDC”

  1. Avatar

    wright_is

    Apple has the advantage of having done this twice before, when they moved from CISC chips from Motorola to the Motorola/IBM PowerPC RISC platform, the to CISC chips from Intel and now, back to RISC again.

    I wonder if they will be digging out the "fat" executables they had with the last move, which will include both CISC and RISC versions of the runtime code, or whether they will just go with downloading targeted code. Given that most software is delivered over the Internet and over the Apple Store these days, there is no longer any real need to bundle both sets of executables into a single file for distribution, although it makes migration from one platform to the other easier, as you just need to copy the application bundles over, not re-install everything.

    • Avatar

      Paween “Frank” Itthipalkul

      In reply to wright_is:

      Fat/Universal Binary never went away with Apple OSes. Before Catalina dropping 32-bit support, some macOS apps have both x86 and x86-64 slices in them, but they're shipped with 1 binary. Although they're targeting a similar architecture, they're distinct and considered 2 different architectures. There were times on iOS as well when apps would be shipped with armv7, armv7s, and arm64 slices at the same time, but nowadays most apps are shipped with just the arm64 slice.

    • Avatar

      stevek

      In reply to wright_is:

      Technically Intel Chips are RISC now as well. Yes the opcodes are still the same old CISC instruction set; but everything is broken down in microcode operations and run like a RISC chip now anyway.


      RISC won; war is over...anything left over is just window dressing.

  2. Avatar

    nbplopes

    Personally I think this is too soon. If it happens. They should improve iPad OS and make it the best small mobile computer in the planet working in tandem with Mac OS, especially desktops.


    I moved out of Laptops already. The iPad Pro is working along with my Desktop extremely well. Away from the under par performance and side effects of using Desktop OSs in small packages. Still there are many things to improve and innovate in that space.

    • Avatar

      SvenJ

      In reply to nbplopes: What makes you think it isn't already the best small mobile computer in the planet? It has great battery life, great screen, very portable, good ecosystem of apps and hardware accessories. The usual "I can't use an iPad" comments surround "It doesn't run (insert application)" or "It doesn't fit into my workflow (which is built on Windows)". If you are trying to find a small mobile computer that runs all the Windows apps you need, in the way you normally use a PC, those are hard to come by without sacrificing battery life, performance, etc.


      • Avatar

        nbplopes

        In reply to SvenJ:


        In such a small screen, up to 13", the only usable Window is the one on top, max two windows side by side, or 3 one overlapping the other. Heck even in 16" this is a common affair (needing to drag windows here and there, minimize etc to create space). The iPad OS windowing system tailored for this scenario and once one gets used to it ... provides a more focused and equally fast experience.


        I find windows staking make more sense in the Desktop where the display offer more real state.


        It's understandable, nevertheless that some users may not be able to cope with the change of habit. Old habits die hard has they say.


        Cheers.


        PS: I like it, but there are plenty of stuff to be improved. For instance, calling Exposé/Mission Control on iPad OS with a nouse should be like we do on the Mac OS. Double tap with two finger on the mouse and its done. Going down being the limits of the display ... it requires too much practice and requires that we move the pointer ... which is not the best option.


        Another is that while in Exposé/Mission Control we should be able to build spaces (side by side windows) by dragging one on the top of the other. Right now we need to go to the dock or call out search and then drag the app.

  3. Avatar

    glenn8878

    Let's hope for a least 3 USB ports.


    Microsoft must be fuming... "We were there first!!!" Balmer laughs.

  4. Avatar

    TEAMSWITCHER

    This is very exciting news.. I love it when any company tries to disrupt the industry. Intel is the obvious loser here but so is AMD. Apple has much deeper pockets than AMD and can command the Lion's share of TSMC's advanced semi-conductor manufacturing. Not to mention, AMD is the GPU Apple has used most these last few years.. moving forward, Apple will rely on their own GPU technology.


    Most people build desktop computers to play games.. But young people today love their laptops. If Apple can make the MacBook game as well as a desktop (without high-pitched fans or miserable battery life) then the potential to disrupt the industry will be magnified ten-fold.



  5. Avatar

    bluvg

    I have a feeling this has little to do with Intel and their CPUs' performance, and everything to do with Apple making their own chips.

    • Avatar

      MikeCerm

      In reply to bluvg:

      Their own chips, which are as fast as Intel's chips, but more efficient. If they weren't competitive with Intel's chips, or Intel had a roadmap to show that next years chips with be 50% better performance, maybe Apple would be sticking with Intel. Next year, Intel will still be struggling with their 10 nm process, while Apple's laptop chips are probably going launch on 5 nm. (Intel's fab process isn't directly comparable with everyone else, but certainly Apple's 5 nm chips will be a whole lot more efficient than Intel on 10 nm.

      • Avatar

        bluvg

        In reply to MikeCerm:

        Depends what Intel line and what tests (e.g., integrated GPU), but for the stuff they're putting in their lower-end laptops, the Intel stuff Apple is using doesn't set a very high bar. The ARM architecture seems likely to offer greater power savings than the fab process, assuming things port well.

  6. Avatar

    nbplopes

    In reply to maggiej:


    I have no problems doing that task. Both with touch, trackpad or mouse. In fact the File Manager (Files) has certain features that say Windows does not have such has tagging files.


    How come do you?

  7. Avatar

    jimchamplin

    Aaaaand I’m probably done with Macs forever.


    Edit: I should say "going forward." I'll give up my old Macs when I'm dead. Pre OS X was the best time.

  8. Avatar

    maggiej

    guess who is the only article that didn't mention windows on arm from? :)

  9. Avatar

    madthinus

    The timing is odd. Looks like Intel is about to wake up from their Skylake / 14nm slumber as they finally get a handle on their 10nm process. Tiger lake and the revised Core architecture is looking promising.

  10. Avatar

    longhorn

    The irony is that it might be easier for Mac developers to port their x86 applications to ARM than for Windows developers to port their Win32 applications to UWP and Windows 10X.


  11. Avatar

    ghostrider

    PowerPC to x86 and now to ARM. What comes around goes around, and this will shore up Apple's top-to-bottom control of their entire product stack. Apple don't like answering to anyone, and now they won't have to.

  12. Avatar

    dmitryko

    ARM64 processors would not replace desktop x86_64 CPUs like the 3.3 GHz 12/24-core Xeon W in the latest Mac Pro. Apple would need to include 5 times more cores and 2 times the memory channels, and convince the developers to re-write their code for massively parallel processing on an entirely different processor architecture. Good luck with that.


    On the other hand, if Apple adds a keyboard to the iPad Pro and calls it the new even thinner MacBook Air Cloud, devotees would surely line up in droves.

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