ARM Chips For Mac – What The Tech Ep. 473

Posted on June 12, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Podcasts, What The Tech with 5 Comments

Andrew and Paul discuss rumors that Apple will move the Mac to ARM, whether Intel has fallen behind AMD, and the PlayStation 5

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Comments (5)

5 responses to “ARM Chips For Mac – What The Tech Ep. 473”

  1. nbplopes

    I honestly can’t see a reason at the moment why Apple who do this apart from moving stock options. If that is the case I will be convinced something has substantially shifted in the coming technical ethos with the death of Steve Jobs.

    The problem is not so much on how to run macOS on ARM. But how to provide a better desktop for most people. Apple does not have the same legacy pressure as Microsoft. Neither is in its nature to accept something as a given. Look at how many OSs SJ has lead ...

    Apple with Jobs never went for ability but for use. Meaning the ability to do something, in this case running macOS on ARM, never dictated how something would be used, but quite the other way around. Meaning it will depend on how Apple sees the future of Desktops for the great majority of Professionals, considering that it already set its tone for mobile.

    If you look at the iPad OS windowing system, it has been gradually crafted to be used on small displays, better than existing solutions like in macOS or Windows 10. In many aspects, once users get pass pre-educated visual perspective of having windows stacked on top of each other, it has succeeded. There are still things to be improved the windowing system but not that many. It’s a bit like when gamers moved from using keyboards to game controller and vice versa.

    This is to say that I don’t see macOS system offering a better use case than iPad OS on small displays, up to 16” or so, except for coders.

    So to be honest I see more iOS coming to the Desktop in the form of say Desktop OS completing the lineup: tv OS, Watch OS, iPad OS, Desktop OS, Glass OS ... Meaning another spin off iOS to the Desktop, now with ability to stack windows on top of each other, tailored for bigger displays. Heck, eventually running some macOS apps in containers out of the existing Mac App Store.

    So I would not be surprised to see a “Desktop OS” device looking just like a piece of glass running a form of iOS supporting windows stacking and all iOS apps. A gobsmacking 27” 4K display or 5k 32” display, super high density, probably touch enabled and ability to be reclined, 8/12/24 cores or more... so on and so forth.

    This would for me look much more like move from a Steve Jobs Apple, a post PC era move, than thinking in terms of Desktop PC OS on ARM ....

    Further putting macOS to be used on Desktop Workstations for developers.

    We don’t know. I think most of the rumors may come from leaked in the production of this new Desktops with ARM on while no one know what OS will run on them.

    People are thinking macOS but is it? One needs to ask, why would Apple help the linear line of thought of bringing a legacy Desktop PC OS with proven limitations to a light yet dense hardware architecture? Apple does need to answer to anything let alone a failed Windows 10 on ARM approach.



  2. Oreo

    I was a bit disappointed by the knowledge gaps of both hosts on that topic. Apple can already cover their entire Mac line-up with ARM chips with no performance degradation. That includes the Mac Pro, there are several vendors who offer ARM-based server chips, which are faster than any of Intel's Xeon chips while supporting more and faster PCIe lanes and memory than they do. (The Ampere Altra, for example, has 80 ARM N1 server cores, which are competitive on a single-core basis and significantly faster than any Xeon Intel makes today. They have 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes compared to 48 PCIe 3.0 lanes on Skylake-based Platinum Xeons, which are half as fast per lane.) I'm not claiming Apple will use third-party ARM chips for the Mac Pro, but there is no reason for Apple to “switch OS” or change the underpinnings of their OS to accommodate ARM chips. Rather there will be no performance regression when switching to ARM-based chips.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to Oreo:

      As I said repeatedly on the show, all we can do now is speculate. And your "knowledge" about macOS performance on ARM etc is just that, speculation and opinion.

      What's really stupid is that I agree with your expectations. But then I voiced that on the show, too. Maybe be less harsh and pay a bit more attention before flying off to the Interwebs to voice your displeasure.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to Oreo:

      Mac Pro uses an ARM chips but not within the scope of the current conversation. It’s function is one of support, not core to the architecture neither the function of the OS. Which is central point of the conversation. ARM is being used for many things.

      Apple can already cover their entire Mac line-up with ARM chips with no performance degradation. “

      This is not knowledge unless you are voiding Apple NDA. At the moment it’s speculation.

      I think you may be confusing knowledge with expectation.