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  1. #1

    Default Thoughts on ARM powered Macs

    Personally I prefer a Mac that has power but I work as a programmer, graphic designer & photographer.

    However folks like my parents love devices like the iPad & iPhone but occasionally want more like a PC.

    Considering that future generations of the ARM chip will improve - the advantages that you would see in an ARM Mac running OS X would include.

    iMacs that run cooler with no fans or vents with smaller thin designs. No GPU required as it is a part of the ARM. (aware intel has it integrated).

    The same with the MacBook - a new model with an ARM processor could run cooler, no fan, run longer (10 hours) etc.

    Having everything run on the chip/RAM, always on like an iPad (does one ever bother to turn them off?), zippy because of the flash memory (although at least 128GB) and having a behaviour like an iPad.

    These would be smaller designs rather than say the 2.1inch iMac or 15" MacBook however they would be more affordable, provide all the positives that I stated above and cater to a market that doesn't need the horsepower that regular iMacs provide.

    Maybe not this year or the next but eventually.

  2. #2

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    Personally I really really hope not, as it will turn the Mac into an underpowered toy. A LOT of work will need to be done to get ARM to Intel performance and we don't need another bloody ship jump. (EG PPC, OSX and Intel). Complete program rewrites will be needed and thats just a nuisance. Also then Intel users will loose the ability to update, as Apple recently has been good with Macs, giving 2007 and 2008 Macs the ability to update, despite the fact they are 6 and 7 years old. Apple dropped updates for PPC 3 years after selling the last one.

    Intel is one of the reasons that the Mac has gained so marketshare in the large couple of years especially with PC switchers, and the advantages of switching to ARM just aren't there.

    I just think that ARM is a great platform for iPads and iPhones, and Intel is great for Macs.
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldmacs View Post
    Personally I really really hope not, as it will turn the Mac into an underpowered toy. A LOT of work will need to be done to get ARM to Intel performance and we don't need another bloody ship jump. (EG PPC, OSX and Intel). Complete program rewrites will be needed and thats just a nuisance. Also then Intel users will loose the ability to update, as Apple recently has been good with Macs, giving 2007 and 2008 Macs the ability to update, despite the fact they are 6 and 7 years old. Apple dropped updates for PPC 3 years after selling the last one.
    If you coded once and it worked on every OS X device regardless of chip then the work would be the same - you would simply recompile.

    You wouldn't be jumping ship, power users like you and I would still use intel (but that is our preference).

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldmacs View Post
    Intel is one of the reasons that the Mac has gained so marketshare in the large couple of years especially with PC switchers, and the advantages of switching to ARM just aren't there.
    Intel is one of the reasons why the Mac gained more marketshare but compare marketshare Intel Mac vs ARM iOS - the market share has been greater for Apple going with ARM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldmacs View Post
    I just think that ARM is a great platform for iPads and iPhones, and Intel is great for Macs.
    I'd still like to see an OS X machine running with an ARM before I think only x86 is great for Macs - it might turn out better. Keep in mind traditional computers are made with a motherboard designed to suit bus speeds and parts made for traditional PCs i.e. SATA connections for the hard drives etc, where as the iPad is one board with chips soldered and designed to go on the same board.

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    Whenever I see someone talking about Macs running ARM chips I can't help but think about the Microsoft Surface Pro series and that really really isn't the way I want Apple computers heading.

    I like having a desktop and a laptop and a tablet and a phone and I'm not at all interested in converging that list into one (or even 2) devices.
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff3DMN View Post
    Whenever I see someone talking about Macs running ARM chips I can't help but think about the Microsoft Surface Pro series and that really really isn't the way I want Apple computers heading.

    I like having a desktop and a laptop and a tablet and a phone and I'm not at all interested in converging that list into one (or even 2) devices.
    oh no, not a surface pro, that is a pad device trying to have pc features... that won't work. Serious users will just buy a proper serious computer not a surface pro (even when they try to attach "pro" to it, it won't work).

    I'm saying a desktop running on hardware optimised because it is ARM and fast enough to run OS X to do day to day things like internet, email, photo sorting etc etc etc

    an office consumer product much like the iPad is a consumer product

    Maybe not the higher end stuff like graphic design etc however a friendlier Mac more suited to the average consumer and not us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruegen View Post
    If you coded once and it worked on every OS X device regardless of chip then the work would be the same - you would simply recompile.

    You wouldn't be jumping ship, power users like you and I would still use intel (but that is our preference).




    Intel is one of the reasons why the Mac gained more marketshare but compare marketshare Intel Mac vs ARM iOS - the market share has been greater for Apple going with ARM.



    I'd still like to see an OS X machine running with an ARM before I think only x86 is great for Macs - it might turn out better. Keep in mind traditional computers are made with a motherboard designed to suit bus speeds and parts made for traditional PCs i.e. SATA connections for the hard drives etc, where as the iPad is one board with chips soldered and designed to go on the same board.
    It is simply not worth yet another transition. I'm not interested in fully sealed Macs, Its bad enough as it is now. The Performance of Apple's A chips is no where near Intel.

    The marketshare is high for ARM on iOS as it makes perfect sense, They are Mobile processors for iOS devices. Thats got nothing to do with my argument.

    Apple can barely keep one stable version of OSX, let alone maintaining an ARM and Intel version. It took them 3 years to get OSX right on the intel as Leopard was pretty poor on both the PPC and Intel in terms of performance.

    The mayhem and confusion of maintaining two lines of Macs is just crazy. Developers would start picking and choosing what system to support, just like the PPC transition, where many Apps lost PPC compatibility very quickly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruegen View Post
    oh no, not a surface pro, that is a pad device trying to have pc features... that won't work. Serious users will just buy a proper serious computer not a surface pro (even when they try to attach "pro" to it, it won't work).

    I'm saying a desktop running on hardware optimised because it is ARM and fast enough to run OS X to do day to day things like internet, email, photo sorting etc etc etc

    an office consumer product much like the iPad is a consumer product

    Maybe not the higher end stuff like graphic design etc however a friendlier Mac more suited to the average consumer and not us.
    It would end up just like the surface RT. Developers haven't really embraced it, its a poor compromise, it can't run the massive library of apps for Intel PCs. It would just lead to computers with two year lifespans, where the customer has to choose if they want to do more than just internet and email. Whats the point of a Mac that is only good for basic stuff? Thats an iPad with a keyboard basically.
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldmacs View Post
    It would end up just like the surface RT. Developers haven't really embraced it, its a poor compromise, it can't run the massive library of apps for Intel PCs. It would just lead to computers with two year lifespans, where the customer has to choose if they want to do more than just internet and email. Whats the point of a Mac that is only good for basic stuff? Thats an iPad with a keyboard basically.

    Since most Mac apps will be going through the Mac App Store - Apple would be controlling the design of the apps ahead of release making a smooth transition. The code would work on a unified design principle (one app that works on both platforms)

    It would be more than an iPad - you'd have OSX. The processors in time would move to a point where they can be used for the home office.

    15 years ago you needed a PowerMac to do Cad - now you can do it using the most basic Mac - even open car documents on an iPad.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruegen View Post
    Since most Mac apps will be going through the Mac App Store - Apple would be controlling the design of the apps ahead of release making a smooth transition. The code would work on a unified design principle (one app that works on both platforms)

    It would be more than an iPad - you'd have OSX. The processors in time would move to a point where they can be used for the home office.

    15 years ago you needed a PowerMac to do Cad - now you can do it using the most basic Mac - even open car documents on an iPad.
    It didn't work well last time with the PPC/Intel transition. Heaps of software that could only run on one or the other, some needed emulation. It took ages to sort out. All I can see is confusion and pointless waste of time, energy and money.

    Intel is developing highly power efficient chips, with increased performance, so there is really no need to make a pointless and highly confusing transition.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldmacs View Post
    It didn't work well last time with the PPC/Intel transition. Heaps of software that could only run on one or the other, some needed emulation. It took ages to sort out. All I can see is confusion and pointless waste of time, energy and money.
    That is a time when they had no control over the developers - now they tend to go through the Mac app store and Xcode is changing too.

    Those same arguments were used when the iPhone & iPads came in and when they changed resolution etc etc etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldmacs View Post
    Intel is developing highly power efficient chips, with increased performance, so there is really no need to make a pointless and highly confusing transition.
    Currently yes. But in the future that may change with each new generation of ARM processors - I repeat: in the future. Not currently.

    Please
    refrain from comparing what we have now instead of what we will have in the future. A processor only needs to be so fast to make a word processor, photo viewer etc to work for the average user.

    Currently Apple has to purchase the Intel processors and place them onto their boards - they are designed by intel and not Apple - adding to cost and board architecture.

    When one codes in a language - if they are using the functions and API provided by Apple the process is pretty much giving the developer the tools that Apple will have coded for either processor.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruegen View Post
    That is a time when they had no control over the developers - now they tend to go through the Mac app store and Xcode is changing too.

    Those same arguments were used when the iPhone & iPads came in and when they changed resolution etc etc etc.




    Currently yes. But in the future that may change with each new generation of ARM processors - I repeat: in the future. Not currently.

    Please
    refrain from comparing what we have now instead of what we will have in the future. A processor only needs to be so fast to make a word processor, photo viewer etc to work for the average user.

    Currently Apple has to purchase the Intel processors and place them onto their boards - they are designed by intel and not Apple - adding to cost and board architecture.

    When one codes in a language - if they are using the functions and API provided by Apple the process is pretty much giving the developer the tools that Apple will have coded for either processor.

    With every ARM advance, there is also an Intel advance, meaning that Intel Chips are going to get MUCH better. So Apple being able to save a tiny amount to solder a chip is worth it? Apple works close with Intel. It would be more expensive researching and designing Mac chips, then having Intel do it. They are the leaders in microprocessors.

    No a processor needs to accommodate for 5-6 years of use by a user plus a multitude of other possibilities, such as film editing which is done by many basic users. Then what happens if the user wants to do anything more advanced? New computer? Its a pretty poor idea. There is no need for a Mac that already does what the iPad does. The iPad with a keyboard is pretty much what you described, an internet machine that does basic photo viewing. The Mac is for people who ant to do more.

    The benefits of another change are just not there at all, they are outweighed by the multitude of negatives plus the confusion of whether people need a Mac, an ARM mac or an iPad. Or which software runs on each because there is no way that everyone is just going to redesign their applications to properly work on two separate platforms.

    There is no comparison to the iPad and iPhone. They don't cause confusion as they do very different things to the Mac. There is a clear distinction. Confusion happens when for example you have the surface and the surface rt. People don't understand or know which one to get, which applications work on both etc. Also many developers do not want to be on the Mac App store and it should be that way.

    For people who want to do a basic things like you are suggesting the ARM Mac is for, there is the iPad, and soon hopefully the iPad Pro.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruegen View Post
    15 years ago you needed a PowerMac to do Cad - now you can do it using the most basic Mac - even open car documents on an iPad.
    15 Years ago my digital camera was 640x480 resolution and my video camera was analogue and my computer of that time was slow editing still shots and really struggled editing the (converted) low resolution video.

    Now my digital cameras are 24 and 16 megapixels needing RAW editing and video is running at Full HD (and about to go 4K) and 8GB of ram isn't enough anymore.

    By the time ARM chips are powerful enough to handle the above tasks both still and video will have moved on to yet higher resolutions and frame rates needing even more power.

    I honestly doubt ARM will ever 'catch up' enough to easily run applications like photoshop, lightroom and similar.

    As for iPad photo editing apps, they are still toys or at best suited to light touch ups of still photographs in the field where time is more important than quality.
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    entropy's Avatar entropy is offline It's the heat death of the universe, my friends

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    Unless it outperforms anything Intel puts out it would be another surface RT.

    i reckon a more likely scenario is an 'M' series chip (M for Mac!) that has both x64 and ARM cores. But without the legacy that Intel has in its chips, just like A series chips only have ARM features Appl wants. Building on Apple's successful experience of adapting ARM reference designs, and the absence of legacy, they just might be able to pip Intel at its own game.
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    Quote Originally Posted by entropy View Post
    Unless it outperforms anything Intel puts out it would be another surface RT.

    i reckon a more likely scenario is an 'M' series chip (M for Mac!) that has both x64 and ARM cores. But without the legacy that Intel has in its chips, just like A series chips only have ARM features Appl wants. Building on Apple's successful experience of adapting ARM reference designs, and the absence of legacy, they just might be able to pip Intel at its own game.
    I like that idea actually. As long as Windows can run on it!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldmacs View Post
    The benefits of another change are just not there at all, they are outweighed by the multitude of negatives plus the confusion of whether people need a Mac, an ARM mac or an iPad.
    Apple seems the be the type of company to want complete control of their ecosystem, and that's where the benefits would lie. Producing chips in-house would cut the overheads as opposed to purchasing processors from Intel.

    Unfortunately that can also be a terrifying prospect. A transition to another architecture could be the only reason that Apple needs to close application support to any application that hasn't been distributed through the Mac App Store.

    It could offer sufficient reason to shorten the software lifecycle of a machine so it only supports OS releases for 2-3 years.

    It could offer sufficient reason to enable code signing on Macs, so an installation of an operating system needs to be signed by Apple before it can boot on Apple's own processor - exactly the way iOS releases are signed now. Apple A-series processors from the A5 onwards have secure boot built directly into the silicon, and I can imagine a desktop A-series processor would incorporate this feature as well. No more downgrading, no more restoring the system to an OS version after Apple has shut down the validation servers for it.


    Switching to ARM is a bad thing for the Mac. Not from a technological standpoint, but because of what leverage it could give Apple over the entire platform and ecosystem. The justification for doing so would be the same as always - better battery life and a shiny new feature built into the chip package. Just enough to make customers flood in the doors on launch day. The potential negatives however more than outweigh the benefits.

    It would be the final nail in the coffin for the Macintosh we have known and loved since its inception. I wouldn't be getting behind it.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by iMic View Post
    Apple seems the be the type of company to want complete control of their ecosystem, and that's where the benefits would lie. Producing chips in-house would cut the overheads as opposed to purchasing processors from Intel.

    Unfortunately that can also be a terrifying prospect. A transition to another architecture could be the only reason that Apple needs to close application support to any application that hasn't been distributed through the Mac App Store.

    It could offer sufficient reason to shorten the software lifecycle of a machine so it only supports OS releases for 2-3 years.

    It could offer sufficient reason to enable code signing on Macs, so an installation of an operating system needs to be signed by Apple before it can boot on Apple's own processor - exactly the way iOS releases are signed now. Apple A-series processors from the A5 onwards have secure boot built directly into the silicon, and I can imagine a desktop A-series processor would incorporate this feature as well. No more downgrading, no more restoring the system to an OS version after Apple has shut down the validation servers for it.


    Switching to ARM is a bad thing for the Mac. Not from a technological standpoint, but because of what leverage it could give Apple over the entire platform and ecosystem. The justification for doing so would be the same as always - better battery life and a shiny new feature built into the chip package. Just enough to make customers flood in the doors on launch day. The potential negatives however more than outweigh the benefits.

    It would be the final nail in the coffin for the Macintosh we have known and loved since its inception. I wouldn't be getting behind it.

    A terrifying aspect for you maybe but not Apple if they have an option up their sleeve. We've as Mac users have always held a dogma to change - from PowerPC chips to Intel for example or the switch to OSX. Always something to complain about.

    It has often been noted that it would be nicer to have one chip architecture to deal with and so far the iPad, iPhone & Apple TV have this (iWatch?)

    Apple may even beef the ARM processor with the downside it saps more power - however it runs better for laptops.
    Last edited by ruegen; 17th January 2015 at 11:04 AM.

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    entropy's Avatar entropy is offline It's the heat death of the universe, my friends

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    Windows probably wouldn't run on it it. Because: Apple would strip out the legacy bits it doesn't need to get the OSX performance and cheaper.
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by entropy View Post
    Windows probably wouldn't run on it it. Because: Apple would strip out the legacy bits it doesn't need to get the OSX performance and cheaper.
    Yes - I doubt it would run windows unless windows could run on ARM...

    Apple hasn't seen a need for anyone to run Win 8 on its iPads...

    all the ipad & iphone apps could ps could run on Mac...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruegen View Post
    Yes - I doubt it would run windows unless windows could run on ARM...

    Apple hasn't seen a need for anyone to run Win 8 on its iPads...

    all the ipad & iphone apps could ps could run on Mac...
    Thats just stupid. Nobody really wants to run Windows on an iPad because its primarily a consumption device. It is a touch screen consumption device, that would not have enough power to run it anyway (Disregarding the fact that iPads are ARM and therefore can not run proper windows).

    Yep shoehorn TOUCH screen apps onto the Mac. Great idea. Lets do EXACTLY what Microsoft has done and failed at. Windows 8 has tablet apps on the desktop and its hated. iOS Apps are not made with a cursor in mind. If iOS apps could run on the Mac, we'd then get the opposite. Mac apps that could run on iOS deice, and shoehorning cursor based apps onto the iPad is also a VERY poor idea.

    Why the hell would anyone want to make the Mac into a stripped down iPad. Everything that has been argued for the ARM Mac, is basically a iPad with a keyboard.
    Last edited by Oldmacs; 17th January 2015 at 11:31 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruegen View Post
    A terrifying aspect for you maybe but not Apple if they have an option up their sleeve. We've as Mac users have always held a dogma to change - from PowerPC chips to Intel for example or the switch to OSX. Always something to complain about.

    It has often been noted that it would be nicer to have one chip architecture to deal with and so far the iPad, iPhone & Apple TV have this (iWatch?)

    Apple may even beef the ARM processor with the downside it saps more power - however it runs better for laptops.
    Intel has far better options in the pipeline. If Intel is having issues in reducing power consumption and they are the PREMIER/LEADER microprocessor designer and manufacturer, Apple is not going to have much more luck in doing so.

    The PPC to Intel transition actually had a significant benefit to users and Apple. So many people switched to the Mac due to the intel chip. IF ARM was the dominant desktop and laptop architecture I'd say go ahead. However its not. An ARM Mac would be a complete joke. Sealed Macs, that last 2-3 years would be terrible.

    Lets not forget that Intel is working on even lower powered processors for its computers. Right now the Macbook Air lasts longer on a charge than the ARM powered iPad is meant to.

    Anyone who thinks that Apple would pass savings from using the ARM onto to the user is crazy. They have HUGE margins on the iOS devices that they design the chips for. Plus Apple would need significant funding to develop more powerful ARM chips. Not only that but when you make more powerful ARM chips you start to loose the low power advantage.

    A change for the sake of Apple's supply chain would be absolutely a nightmare for users and there is so little point. The negatives far outweigh the positives. if you want a locked down device, with ARM that is cheaper you've got it. THE IPAD.
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