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Apple expected to move Macs to ARM at upcoming WWDC


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It's been speculated for years, but according to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, on June 22 at WWDC Apple will finally announce it is moving Mac OS from Intel to ARM CPUs. The early takes are coming fast and furiously. Jon Gruber is pretty optimistic, and seems to think that Apple will try to move all Macs over to ARM. Dieter Bohn looks at what Apple can learn from Windows recent ARM iteration. Steven Sinofsky wrote an interesting twitter thread on the technical aspects and speculates that an ARM Mac shouldn't be a simple port, but should force a huge shift towards a new API model.

 

If the report is right, we only have a couple weeks before we find out, but it's still fun to speculate.

 

 

I feel like an incremental approach that has Intel and ARM living side by side for years is the most likely outcome. If Sinofsky is right and Apple really wants to push a significant software transition along with the hardware, it wouldn't take too much for a mass market ARM based Macbook Air to be viable for many people. MS Office already has an ARM version (for windows), Apple's' own apps have already been moving to Catalyst and Swift UI,  and the prevalence of Electron means that Apps like Slack could quickly be ported. Yeah, emulated photoshop would probably still suck, but power users can continue buying Intel machines until the software library for ARM matures, which will likely take years. I just look at photoshop on the iPad, or how poorly other Adobe apps use GPU acceleration on any platform, and imagine them having to port it all to a Mac OS ARM architecture and API framework that are meaningfully different, and it's hard to see how it could possibly happen anytime soon.

 

If Apple does its best to make the transition painless, and builds it's ARM chips to more closely mimic x86, and essentially does a 1:1 port of the existing frameworks, that transition time would be very reduced, but at the cost of any real transformative gains. So many of the things we associate with ARM devices are actually the result of the software that has been built for them. If you take a generalized OS and throw it on there, the theoretical benefits of ARM quickly dissapear. We've seen this with both Windows and Chrome based devices.

 

Especially as someone who doesn't use a Mac and won't experience any pain from this transition, I really hope to see Apple do something radical. I want them to use the ARM transition to build devices that they couldn't have built with Intel. If it all just ends up being the same computers with the same OS and the same apps, just with a different piece of silicon in the center, that would be boring. 

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I imagine this is actually happening and this is a controlled leak to get the news out early and kinda soften the blow.

 

If it wasn't happening, they would be leaking info walking this back... and they aren't.

 

It was inevitable.

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This will force me off the Mac for my work computer if they include the Macbook Pros in this. I mostly don't need Windows but I can't avoid it 100%, so I use Parallels for the times I need it. Windows 10 is at a point (especially with the Linux subsystem stuff) where having to go to Windows wouldn't be that bad if it was just about the operating system, but the Windows machines at work are categorically worse than the Macbook Pros, I think our options are some kind of Surface and a not-great 14" Dell. And I think the Dells they were handing out still only had 1366x768 screens as recently as a year or two ago.

 

Hopefully my work starts offering a better Dell option if the Macbook Pros go ARM. :/

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8 minutes ago, Jason said:

This will force me off the Mac for my work computer if they include the Macbook Pros in this. I mostly don't need Windows but I can't avoid it 100%, so I use Parallels for the times I need it. Windows 10 is at a point (especially with the Linux subsystem stuff) where having to go to Windows wouldn't be that bad if it was just about the operating system, but the Windows machines at work are categorically worse than the Macbook Pros, I think our options are some kind of Surface and a not-great 14" Dell. And I think the Dells they were handing out still only had 1366x768 screens as recently as a year or two ago.

 

Hopefully my work starts offering a better Dell option if the Macbook Pros go ARM. :/

I thought MS debuted Windows for ARM recently?

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2 minutes ago, sblfilms said:

I thought MS debuted Windows for ARM recently?

 

The software I need Windows for either won't work on Windows for ARM or would run like absolute dogshit. And Windows for ARM is already emulating x86 IIRC, so you'd also be adding a second VM/emulation layer on top of the Parallels one, further hitting performance. 

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Okay, as a Mac user for the past decade or so, what does this mean in layman’s terms? My computer speak has gone to shit over the years.

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15 minutes ago, MarSolo said:

Okay, as a Mac user for the past decade or so, what does this mean in layman’s terms? My computer speak has gone to shit over the years.

I think the main thing will be lower power consumption for any given level of compute power. That also means less heat, so lighter weight computers. Probably little other difference for a casual user.

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15 minutes ago, MarSolo said:

Okay, as a Mac user for the past decade or so, what does this mean in layman’s terms? My computer speak has gone to shit over the years.

Mac is changing the type of processors they use. Right now they use Intel x86 processors. ARM processors are what you find in tablets, smartphones, etc. They are more power efficient then x86 processors but since they are a different processor programs will need to be written for this in mind. 

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19 minutes ago, MarSolo said:

Okay, as a Mac user for the past decade or so, what does this mean in layman’s terms? My computer speak has gone to shit over the years.

 

This entirely depends on how Apple wants to go about this change. Microsoft is emulating x86 or more typical laptop and desktop CPUs in their Surface X line. Apple could go this route. Apple could also go the route they did when they moved from PowerPC to x86 and just drop support for older software entirely. We don't really know what this will mean for regular folk going forward.

 

On the Windows side, it's fine. It's just that 64bit applications don't work and 32bit applications are slower than that would normally run. It makes running 32bit applications feel slower than they should be on a computer that costs as much as the Surface Pro X.

 

How Apple decided to tackle this has yet to be seen.

 

That said, this was inevitable the day Apple started making their own processors. I don't know how much Apple cares about the professional and prosumer market. They've never been very good at supporting their own software, I can't imagine they'd want to support multiple instances of the same software for different architectures.

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10 minutes ago, Ghost_MH said:

 

This entirely depends on how Apple wants to go about this change. Microsoft is emulating x86 or more typical laptop and desktop CPUs in their Surface X line. Apple could go this route. Apple could also go the route they did when they moved from PowerPC to x86 and just drop support for older software entirely. We don't really know what this will mean for regular folk going forward.

 

On the Windows side, it's fine. It's just that 64bit applications don't work and 32bit applications are slower than that would normally run. It makes running 32bit applications feel slower than they should be on a computer that costs as much as the Surface Pro X.

 

How Apple decided to tackle this has yet to be seen.

 

That said, this was inevitable the day Apple started making their own processors. I don't know how much Apple cares about the professional and prosumer market. They've never been very good at supporting their own software, I can't imagine they'd want to support multiple instances of the same software for different architectures.

I see alot of people saying ooo Intel could have done more to keep Apple. It was a done deal as soon as Apple started making their own CPUs. Only thing Intel could do would be giving them CPUs for free. 

 

Doesn't this effectively kill Mac gaming? 

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12 minutes ago, Zaku3 said:

I see alot of people saying ooo Intel could have done more to keep Apple. It was a done deal as soon as Apple started making their own CPUs. Only thing Intel could do would be giving them CPUs for free. 

 

Doesn't this effectively kill Mac gaming? 

 

Intel was never going to keep Apple. Only way that would happen is if they merged or some crazy thing like the rumors of Apple looking to acquire AMD a number of years back. Either that or Apple's mobile business would have to tank so that developing their own processors became unfeasible.

 

Intel's bigger issue is Microsoft, not Apple. Intel already lost the mobile market. If they don't come up with something better and more power efficient fast, we'll start to see more than just the Surface Pro X. Either that or they better hope AMD had something coming up.

 

Here's the thing, I have a Surface Pro X. It's a really slick convertible. Even the x86 emulation for 32bit apps is passable. The only issue with this thing is price. Otherwise, it's pretty damn nice.

 

EDIT: I forgot all about Mac gaming...like any other normal human. My take? This will be a HUGE boost for Mac gaming, mainly from portless ports from iOS.

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46 minutes ago, sblfilms said:

I think the main thing will be lower power consumption for any given level of compute power. That also means less heat, so lighter weight computers. Probably little other difference for a casual user.

Not to pick on you specifically, but while this seems like the logical conclusion, it's far from certain.

 

Typically we've seen ARM devices be lighter and thinner and get better performance per Watt, but we've also seen precious few PC grade ARM devices. What we have seen from Qualcomm in devices like the Surface Pro X haven't had better battery life, though it is thinner.

 

If Apple does decide to go all out, and rapidly replace as much of their lineup as quickly as possible, I think it's likely we actually get the reverse: Macs with worse battery life than before. The single core performance on an A14 is great, but Intel is still far better at multi-threaded performance. If Apple just throws hardware at the problem and glues a bunch of cores together to get sufficient multi-threaded performance in a MacBook Pro, it very well might not have any battery or performance benefits.

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25 minutes ago, ort said:

If there aren't immediate and tangible benefits, I don't see why they would do it.

 

Because updates they want to make to their product lineup keep getting held up by Intel dropping the ball.

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Should we just turn this into the WWDC thread? There are a few things I’m really excited about for this conference:

 

  • Near bezel-less iMac. While I won’t be getting one, it’ll be a sizable leap forward for the iMac line (no more fusion drives, too)
  • Airpods Studio. I’m all over these. The moment they go on sale I’m placing my order. 
  • Apple Card installments for more than just iPhones. I REALLY want this to happen right now—I have the 11” 2018 iPad Pro, and since picking up the Magic Keyboard, which is AMAZING, it’s really got me wanting to upgrade to the 12.9” model. So as soon as I’m able to get those installments, I’m ordering that and the larger Magic Keyboard. 
  • And with that, how will they continue to build upon the laptop-esque support for iPad OS 14. The trackpad is MBP-nice on the MK, and the more support the iPad Pro gets (I’m looking at you, Premiere, Logic Pro), the more I’m leaning towards using the iPad Pro for 90% of my computer needs.
  • I honestly don’t know what more I’d want out of iOS—split screen, perhaps? I really think we’re at the point of diminishing returns for phones, both with hardware and software. So I’m up for anything new they offer on this front. 
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2 hours ago, TwinIon said:

Not to pick on you specifically, but while this seems like the logical conclusion, it's far from certain.

 

Typically we've seen ARM devices be lighter and thinner and get better performance per Watt, but we've also seen precious few PC grade ARM devices. What we have seen from Qualcomm in devices like the Surface Pro X haven't had better battery life, though it is thinner.

 

If Apple does decide to go all out, and rapidly replace as much of their lineup as quickly as possible, I think it's likely we actually get the reverse: Macs with worse battery life than before. The single core performance on an A14 is great, but Intel is still far better at multi-threaded performance. If Apple just throws hardware at the problem and glues a bunch of cores together to get sufficient multi-threaded performance in a MacBook Pro, it very well might not have any battery or performance benefits.

 

Correct. My Surface Pro X's battery life is comparable to other laptops in it's price class. It is very thin, though, so I guess there's that. I have the 16GB model and I'm fairly certain it's the high res screen sucking up all the battery.

 

24 minutes ago, Dre801 said:

Nothing inherent about ARM to keep it from being scaled up to desktop class.

 

Not at all. I've built out Linux servers running the Thunder X2 and that thing SCREAMS.

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Does anybody here code with Python for a living? About to do a data science bootcamp and apparently Macs are a MUST. I made it 34 years without having to buy an Apple product!

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43 minutes ago, Jose said:

Does anybody here code with Python for a living? About to do a data science bootcamp and apparently Macs are a MUST. I made it 34 years without having to buy an Apple product!

While I don’t do Python, I do some coding both with HTML and CSS at home and for work. I love the Atom app, which also supports Python (and many languages). And it runs like a dream on Mac OS. 

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49 minutes ago, Jose said:

Does anybody here code with Python for a living? About to do a data science bootcamp and apparently Macs are a MUST. I made it 34 years without having to buy an Apple product!

 

Historically Macs have definitely presented a much smoother experience for getting things set up. However if you can get your Windows 10 up to Version 2004, Build 19041, then the WSL 2 is supposed to have ironed out a lot of the kinks from WSL 1 (it's basically running a non-GUI Linux VM on your machine), and WSL 1 was already pretty damn good.

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Also do you have the setup instructions they gave you? Depending on what you're doing you can probably just use Anaconda, which is another option for smoothing over the headaches with getting things running on Windows.

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49 minutes ago, Jose said:

Does anybody here code with Python for a living? About to do a data science bootcamp and apparently Macs are a MUST. I made it 34 years without having to buy an Apple product!

I don't code Python for a living, but I've done personal and professional projects in Python and I'm not sure why a Mac would be a must. I would understand if it was Objective C or Swift, but there's nothing about Python that requires a Mac, especially with the Windows Subsystem for Linux that we have now.

 

My guess is that whoever setup the bootcamp decided to streamline things by eliminating platform /IDE differences.

3 hours ago, ort said:

If there aren't immediate and tangible benefits, I don't see why they would do it.

Even if there aren't immediate benefits, there could still be theoretical benefits down the line that make switching now worthwhile. If ARM is the direction they want to go, as soon as they can reach parity, it would be worthwhile to switch.

 

Mostly though, it would be money. Apple currently sells a $400 iPhone with their top of the line ARM chip in it, and presumably makes money. I have little doubt that they would be much more profitable selling an ARM based Mac compared to an Intel one.

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1 minute ago, Jason said:

Also do you have the setup instructions they gave you? Depending on what you're doing you can probably just use Anaconda, which is another option for smoothing over the headaches with getting things running on Windows.

 

Actually they didn't even give me instructions! They just said to get Jupyter Notebook with no explanation how to do so! Luckily, a former bartender of mine now codes for the NYC DA and he set me up with Anaconda. 

 

I passed the technical interview last week and they told me Macbooks were required for the course. Apparently most coders prefer Macs anyway, so I ordered a maxed out one. Should be here in a week.

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1 minute ago, Jose said:

 

Actually they didn't even give me instructions! They just said to get Jupyter Notebook with no explanation how to do so! Luckily, a former bartender of mine now codes for the NYC DA and he set me up with Anaconda. 

 

I passed the technical interview last week and they told me Macbooks were required for the course. Apparently most coders prefer Macs anyway, so I ordered a maxed out one. Should be here in a week.

 

If they're making it mandatory then I guess that's that, but for what you're doing I agree with TwinIon that it's probably just to make any troubleshooting easier for them. The idea that Python programming is so much infinitely better on Macs definitely used to be true but is fairly outdated at this point.

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7 minutes ago, Jason said:

 

If they're making it mandatory then I guess that's that, but for what you're doing I agree with TwinIon that it's probably just to make any troubleshooting easier for them. The idea that Python programming is so much infinitely better on Macs definitely used to be true but is fairly outdated at this point.

 

Yeah, they said it was mainly for the troubleshooting, but that it would serve me well in my career. I just dropped 3k on it, so hopefully it serves me well.

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@Jose is all #learntocode now? Nice! Two of my brothers are software develops. My younger brother dropped out of college and went the coding boot camp route and got a job with no other experience making $65k a year. Two years in he is at a firm now making nearly $100k.

 

My older brother works for a firm called Thoughtworks and makes a grip, and it’s a legit great place to work.

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1 hour ago, sblfilms said:

@Jose is all #learntocode now? Nice! Two of my brothers are software develops. My younger brother dropped out of college and went the coding boot camp route and got a job with no other experience making $65k a year. Two years in he is at a firm now making nearly $100k.

 

My older brother works for a firm called Thoughtworks and makes a grip, and it’s a legit great place to work.

Any chance you could PM which boot camp he went to ? I ve been thinking about a carer change.

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4 minutes ago, SimpleG said:

Any chance you could PM which boot camp he went to ? I ve been thinking about a carer change.

It was through the University of Texas. My brother liked it, though it was a LOT of work in a short amount of time. 4 months and it was probably 40 hours a week, and he was still working close to 40 at his job at the time.

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Just now, sblfilms said:

It was through the University of Texas. My brother liked it, though it was a LOT of work in a short amount of time. 4 months and it was probably 40 hours a week, and he was still working close to 40 at his job at the time.

Thanks man, appreciated 

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11 hours ago, sblfilms said:

@Jose is all #learntocode now? Nice! Two of my brothers are software develops. My younger brother dropped out of college and went the coding boot camp route and got a job with no other experience making $65k a year. Two years in he is at a firm now making nearly $100k.

 

My older brother works for a firm called Thoughtworks and makes a grip, and it’s a legit great place to work.

 

Yeah, I had been working as a financial planner for the last two years and basically hated it. I made decent money, though I still needed to work nights as a server. 

 

I loved coding in high school and I am not sure why I never pursued it. This seemed like as good of an opportunity as any to go for it, so I did. Data science seemed more interesting than full stack because of the calculus integration plus it seems like it has excellent future prospects. Let's hope I survive these 3.5 months!

 

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37 minutes ago, Jose said:

 

Yeah, I had been working as a financial planner for the last two years and basically hated it. I made decent money, though I still needed to work nights as a server. 

 

I loved coding in high school and I am not sure why I never pursued it. This seemed like as good of an opportunity as any to go for it, so I did. Data science seemed more interesting than full stack because of the calculus integration plus it seems like it has excellent future prospects. Let's hope I survive these 3.5 months!

 

Good luck my friend!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today's the day. Really hoping they do this gradually instead of announcing everything is immediately moving to ARM.

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