Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development



  • This is about an not surprising as IT hardware news gets, but Apple is working hard on getting their macOS ported to their own ARM processors, just like iOS runs on for mobile devices. Apple is no stranger to alternative desktop CPU architectures, having used Motorola's PowerPC platform in the past and the Motorola M68K prior to that. Since Apple makes their own chips for their mobile devices, it would only make sense for them to make their own for their desktops. And, we would assume, work towards unifying the new OS platforms, as well.



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  • Apple is once more showing how completely unaware they are of their core user group.



  • @kelly said in Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development:

    Apple is once more showing how completely unaware they are of their core user group.

    Why do you think that?

    Honestly, I think that this is probably a good move, for several reasons. One is that it will allow Apple to greatly expand its CPU operations, which are already pretty big. In theory they can make bigger, faster processors for their Mac platforms and "trickle down" the tech to the mobile platforms making for a far more efficient overall pipeline on the hardware front.

    On the software front, it seems really critical that Apple merge its two operating systems. macOS and iOS have been growing towards each other for a long time, but are still pretty separate. That's very costly for Apple internally and very costly for developers who want to support both. Get the two hardware platforms merged, merge the OSes and suddenly Apple is getting way better bang for their buck on R&D.

    I think this really services Apple's core users well. Apple's bread and butter has always been their ultra casual user base and their fanboi club. The first group are perfectly suited to the ARM platform for desktops. The second group likes when Apple does "anything different." Even since leaving PowerPC for the PC platform, it's been a bit of an embarrassment for them to be laughed at and having it pointed out that Apple is "just another PC maker" now. This changes that. This gives Apple more room for vertical integration like they used to do. Let apples to apples competition from loads of PC makers showing that everyone can do better for less.

    For the small user group of "power users", which is honestly tiny I think, ARM is actually quite a good platform and has a lot of potential. Yes, Intel and AMD lead them in performance right now, but that is changing fast and by 2020 might not matter either.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development:

    @kelly said in Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development:

    Apple is once more showing how completely unaware they are of their core user group.

    Why do you think that?

    Honestly, I think that this is probably a good move, for several reasons. One is that it will allow Apple to greatly expand its CPU operations, which are already pretty big. In theory they can make bigger, faster processors for their Mac platforms and "trickle down" the tech to the mobile platforms making for a far more efficient overall pipeline on the hardware front.

    On the software front, it seems really critical that Apple merge its two operating systems. macOS and iOS have been growing towards each other for a long time, but are still pretty separate. That's very costly for Apple internally and very costly for developers who want to support both. Get the two hardware platforms merged, merge the OSes and suddenly Apple is getting way better bang for their buck on R&D.

    I think this really services Apple's core users well. Apple's bread and butter has always been their ultra casual user base and their fanboi club. The first group are perfectly suited to the ARM platform for desktops. The second group likes when Apple does "anything different." Even since leaving PowerPC for the PC platform, it's been a bit of an embarrassment for them to be laughed at and having it pointed out that Apple is "just another PC maker" now. This changes that. This gives Apple more room for vertical integration like they used to do. Let apples to apples competition from loads of PC makers showing that everyone can do better for less.

    For the small user group of "power users", which is honestly tiny I think, ARM is actually quite a good platform and has a lot of potential. Yes, Intel and AMD lead them in performance right now, but that is changing fast and by 2020 might not matter either.

    Software for Macs is already very limited. Much of it is ported using Brew or Macports from other platforms. That will no longer be possible for packages based in x64/x86 architecture. The group I'm referring to relies heavily on this functionality, and isn't the ultra casual group. It is the power user group that have been using Macs for decades, and do not want to switch, but have had communicated to them that they don't matter in innumerable small ways. I understand the drivers behind the business decision, but abandoning your staunchest, longest lasting supporters seems short sighted.



  • @kelly said in Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development:

    Software for Macs is already very limited. Much of it is ported using Brew or Macports from other platforms. That will no longer be possible for packages based in x64/x86 architecture.

    Why is that an issue? Once you are porting, porting to ARM from AMD64 is all the same. They have to recompile whether it is Windows to Mac or AMD64 to ARM so I don't think that that affects them. On Linux, going to AMD64 or ARM64 is all the same, for example, you just choose to compile for it.



  • @kelly said in Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development:

    It is the power user group that have been using Macs for decades, and do not want to switch, but have had communicated to them that they don't matter in innumerable small ways. I understand the drivers behind the business decision, but abandoning your staunchest, longest lasting supporters seems short sighted.

    I think that this group is pretty tiny, and a lot of them are the fanbois that I mentioned that will love getting new hardware a la PowerPC.

    Some will love the improved battery life. Some will love the unique hardware. I think very, very few will care that the raw power isn't quite as high relative to what it used to be, it'll still be faster than it was from the natural progression of hardware over time. So not like systems will get slower, and top end devices are almost never purchased or needed, they are a nearly dead market.

    Apple Power Users are a tiny audience, and of those, i think most will find the move to ARM beneficial. So I think, IMHO, that even this group that I feel is small, will be generally well served by the move.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development:

    @kelly said in Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development:

    It is the power user group that have been using Macs for decades, and do not want to switch, but have had communicated to them that they don't matter in innumerable small ways. I understand the drivers behind the business decision, but abandoning your staunchest, longest lasting supporters seems short sighted.

    I think that this group is pretty tiny, and a lot of them are the fanbois that I mentioned that will love getting new hardware a la PowerPC.

    Some will love the improved battery life. Some will love the unique hardware. I think very, very few will care that the raw power isn't quite as high relative to what it used to be, it'll still be faster than it was from the natural progression of hardware over time. So not like systems will get slower, and top end devices are almost never purchased or needed, they are a nearly dead market.

    Apple Power Users are a tiny audience, and of those, i think most will find the move to ARM beneficial. So I think, IMHO, that even this group that I feel is small, will be generally well served by the move.

    The group I'm talking about, which appears to be different from the one you are, were upset by Apple's refusal to give a 32 GB RAM option on the MBPs when they were announced late 2016. These are people that want to run multiple VMs, compile code, edit 4k video, etc. They will notice a change in processor power.

    As for porting from x64 to ARM, I won't pretend to know the hows, but many of the ports were finicky going from the same hardware architecture. I would imagine that recompiling for both OS and architecture would increase the number of potential issues, and not be trivial to maintain.



  • @kelly said in Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development:

    As for porting from x64 to ARM, I won't pretend to know the hows, but many of the ports were finicky going from the same hardware architecture. I would imagine that recompiling for both OS and architecture would increase the number of potential issues, and not be trivial to maintain.

    In theory should make no difference. When you write code, you don't write it for a specific processor normally. So "normal" software runs on any architecture, once you recompile. It's no big deal at all.

    And that's only compiled software, more and more today stuff is not compiled. That stuff already "just works" anywhere.



  • I expect Apple to get much better performance that the WINAMD stuff that's being released - to lackluster reviews of performance.



  • @kelly said in Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development:

    The group I'm talking about, which appears to be different from the one you are, were upset by Apple's refusal to give a 32 GB RAM option on the MBPs when they were announced late 2016. These are people that want to run multiple VMs, compile code, edit 4k video, etc. They will notice a change in processor power.

    That group, is so small that Apple was already abandoning them. They've been backing off on making high performance gear for a while. It's a super silly group, macOS is a wussy platform in general. People looking for high performance will always be disappointed with Apple products, it's just not what they do. My guess is that supporting that group is a loss for Apple. Those people may or may not be passionate about Apple products, but they aren't passionate about what Apple is really made for. They are trying to shoehorn Mac into a place where it isn't really designed to work.



  • @dashrender said in Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development:

    I expect Apple to get much better performance that the WINAMD stuff that's being released - to lackluster reviews of performance.

    Well yeah, I expect that they are going to be releasing on serious hardware. ARM systems get pretty huge already today, and in two years will be worlds beyond where they are now.



  • Interesting question... who are the bigger Apple Mac fans, the ones demanding it do things it has never done well, or those that are less excited in general but trust that Apple knows their market and future 😉



  • @scottalanmiller said in Apple Mac on ARM Actively in Development:

    Interesting question... who are the bigger Apple Mac fans, the ones demanding it do things it has never done well, or those that are less excited in general but trust that Apple knows their market and future 😉

    the second - who also drives most of their actual income.



  • Here is the current Mac Pro, the top of the line system: https://www.apple.com/mac-pro/specs/

    Honestly, it's not impressive. This is not "power" hardware by any stretch. The price is high, but the gear in it is lackluster. They've not released a "power" product since 2013, what they released then was this which is pretty hampered, and they don't plan to update it until 2019 at the earliest.

    It's not hard at all to see how an ARM-based system might compete really, really well here. Apple's "power user" hardware isn't on par with power users from the rest of the industry as it stands today and their refresh cycles are absurd so that anyone in their "power users club" has to already feel totally abandoned under the current model of things.