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Macbooks With Arm CPUs Arriving by Next Year, Kuo Says

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Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently said that Apple will release Arm-based MacBooks in the last quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021, 9to5Mac reported yesterday, and that MacBooks with an "all-new design" would debut later.

Kuo has beaten the Arm-on-Mac drum for a while. He said in February that he expected Apple to release the first Mac devices equipped with custom processors sometime in the next 18 months; now his predicted timeframe has narrowed.

Not that Kuo's the only one expecting Apple to switch at least some of its Mac lineup to custom processors. Intel officials said the same in 2019, and on March 8 former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée said it would be possible, albeit quite difficult.

9to5Mac said Kuo's research note was light on other details. It's not clear if the first Arm-based Apple notebook is expected to be a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro or another model entirely. Nor is it clear how many products will be Arm-ed.

Kuo didn't offer details about the MacBooks with an "all-new design," either, other than his prediction that they will debut in the Q2 or Q3 of 2021. But at least it seems like we might finally see an Arm-based Mac sooner than later.

  • justin.m.beauvais
    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that we won't see an ARM based MacBook Pro. ARM lacks the x86 instructions needed for actual high performance professional work loads. It is much more likely that this fabled ARM based system will be a consumer level product like a MacBook Air or vanilla MacBook. Apple's SOCs are not terrible, and probably would be fine in a day to day kind of laptop, but I don't at all expect to see any "Pro" products with ARM CPUs.
    Reply
  • hannibal
    Not so sure. Apple has done similar move Also before. And when Apple says that programs has to work nicely in native mode in new MacBook, The developers jump! Or those programs disappear from Apple store! Just see what happened when Apple said 64bit.
    You may be right that these appear first to air books, but very soon these will be Also pro books. Workstations may remain wintel prosessor mode, but not for long.
    Reply
  • neojack
    they gonna jsut slap a keyboard under an ipad, adapt the interface a little bit, and call it "revolutionary"
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    justin.m.beauvais said:
    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that we won't see an ARM based MacBook Pro. ARM lacks the x86 instructions needed for actual high performance professional work loads. It is much more likely that this fabled ARM based system will be a consumer level product like a MacBook Air or vanilla MacBook. Apple's SOCs are not terrible, and probably would be fine in a day to day kind of laptop, but I don't at all expect to see any "Pro" products with ARM CPUs.
    I don't see why they couldn't design a larger, higher-powered ARM chip that would be much faster than their phone/tablet SoCs. Intel/AMDs upper end mobile offerings have at least 50% larger die size, and that's despite the fact that phone SoCs have additional stuff like DSPs/neural processors taking up extra die space. Intel/AMD chips also have an order of magnitude higher power draw. It seems like Apple has lots of room to play with to make a more powerful chip.

    What x86 instructions are you referring to in particular? If you're talking about stuff like AVX, ARM has their own vector extensions too.
    Reply
  • AlistairAB
    justin.m.beauvais said:
    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that we won't see an ARM based MacBook Pro. ARM lacks the x86 instructions needed for actual high performance professional work loads. It is much more likely that this fabled ARM based system will be a consumer level product like a MacBook Air or vanilla MacBook. Apple's SOCs are not terrible, and probably would be fine in a day to day kind of laptop, but I don't at all expect to see any "Pro" products with ARM CPUs.

    That couldn't be more wrong. The main differences are memory speed, and clock speed. The current design of the iPhone's CPU would already be pro speed, just running at 4ghz, having faster desktop memory, and double the cache. You can see this with the Amazon Graviton2, and Apple's ARM cores are already 40 percent faster than those ones (A76) and yet it is already equaling Intel and AMD.

    People forget that Intel has to run their chips at lower and lower clocks the more cores you have in the chip. Some slight redesign to scale better with more cores (ram issues) and they'll be golden by September. No need to wait.
    Reply
  • techy1966
    TJ Hooker said:
    I don't see why they couldn't design a larger, higher-powered ARM chip that would be much faster than their phone/tablet SoCs. Intel/AMDs upper end mobile offerings have at least 50% larger die size, and that's despite the fact that phone SoCs have additional stuff like DSPs/neural processors taking up extra die space. Intel/AMD chips also have an order of magnitude higher power draw. It seems like Apple has lots of room to play with to make a more powerful chip.

    What x86 instructions are you referring to in particular? If you're talking about stuff like AVX, ARM has their own vector extensions too.

    Whatx86 instructions? I am gonna say all of them. Programs that run on x86 make up at least 99.99% of the market on PC and PC Mac. It is gonna be pretty hard for Apple to try to replace that in a short time frame with their non x86 programs. Yes they may at some point do it but that is a long ways off. I am also sure Intel won't go away without a fight. Apple has to remember they can not push around a company like Intel like they have with so many others in the past. My opinion only if I'm right cool and if not I feel sorry for Apple fans because not only will they be locked into the little walled garden but also locked into a eco system that has no where to go because they will be on a platform that no body else is gonna be supporting for a long time.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    Idk, I think apple may have the pull required to get more people developing for ARM (outside of phones/tablets). By porting their x86 apps to ARM, or their iOS apps to MacOS, or both. Consider they introduced their own graphics API (metal) and they seem to have had decent luck getting developers to use it.

    This also isn't the first attempt at using ARM in a traditionally x86 role, e.g. Snapdragon 8c in laptops. Although they've all been pretty low power devices so far AFAIK.

    This also isn't the first time Apple has changed ISA (powerPC to x86), and that worked out well for them. Admittedly that was probably an easier change for the industry to stomach, given that x86 was already the dominant PC architecture.
    Reply