Is Apple Getting Ready to Migrate Mac to ARM? — It’s Starting to Look Like it

shocked the world when the iPhone 8 was benchmarked and it was
found to be faster than a Core-i5. Well, Apple has long been
reducing their reliance on other manufacturers for things like
modems, graphics processors, RAM, and NAND flash storage. Apple’s
dependency on third-party products results in more expensive
manufacturing costs and less control over components. But the CPU
is hailed as one of the most difficult components to produce, at
least, when you have to compete with the performance of Intel and
AMD. Does Apple have what it takes to take on x86? All signs seem
to indicate that, at least they think, they do. Let’s dive deeper
into this discussion.

Apple has been poaching engineering talent, securing IP, and
purchasing other manufacturers over the last few years. It’s
always been clear that Apple is aggressive, but the actions all
seem to be pointing in a singular direction over the last
couple years.

Firstly, Apple’s new iMac Pro that contains one of their ARM
CPUs, and more are expected to
. The ARM CPU is suspected to provide some security
services as well as replace some other discrete hardware
controllers. Additionally, the chip is leveraged for always-on Siri, a
service that would otherwise tie-up CPU time. While this use of
the ARM CPU is somewhat reminiscent of past co-processors in
the ’90s, it’s certainly a sign of what the future holds for
Apple products. This integration of ARM into an x86 system
shows that Apple is already serious about deploying their ARM
CPUs in their computers, it’s no longer a matter of
speculation. While this doesn’t exactly indicate a move to the
ARM architecture, it shows that Apple feels the need to fill
some voids with their own chips.

Secondly, Apple left tech enthusiasts skeptical when benchmarks
started surfacing that indicated the iPhone 8 CPU was actually
faster than a mobile
(laptop) Core-i5
in GeekBench benchmarks. Considering the
huge power disparity between the two, this was very difficult
to believe. Sure enough, more benchmarks were posted online
from different sources. Apple showed us that mobile phone CPUs
are now going toe-to-toe with laptop CPUs (with some
. This might not come as much of a surprise
after Microsoft and Qualcomm’s initiative to get Windows
running on the Snapdragon, but many were still very
conservative about believing that an ARM CPU was sufficient for
an everyday laptop. If Apple’s iPhone CPU can compete with the
mobile Core-i5, then a scaled up version for
laptops (or desktops) could definitely
surpass it. Knowing this, it’s hard to think of any reason why
Apple would still choose to rely on Intel’s products.

Lastly, Apple has allegedly decided to delay the
implementation of planned macOS features
 in order to
work on security, reliability, and performance. In a market
where features trump such virtues, it’s a very noble thing for
Apple to do. They appear to be giving consumers the medicine
they need rather than playing a sycophant and giving them what
they want. There is, however, one very notable exception to
this. Apple has decided, still, to move forward with their
so-called project Marzipan (and we thought deserts were
Google’s thing)
. Stealing a trick from Microsoft’s
playbook, Apple’s project Marzipan will allow iOS applications
to run on macOS. That’s nifty, but what does it have to do
with macOS on ARM?

The fact that Apple is making a single exception to their
feature freeze for the upcoming release of macOS says a lot.
Clearly, Apple values this feature so much that they’ve made it
a sole exception. You could go as far as to say that this looks
like a priority for Apple. You might be asking why Apple would
want iOS apps running on x86 when this article is about moving
macOS to ARM? iOS apps on x86 and macOS on ARM are really just
two sides of the same coin. (SPECULATION
Allowing developers to create applications
that run on iOS and macOS on their respective hardware
platforms will seed a developer ecosystem that is fundamentally
an exercise in cross-platform compatibility. Apple will be able
to identify any particular difficulties and address them ahead
of time.

Apple clearly has the means to produce their own CPUs. Whether
they’ll actually be able to compete with AMD and Intel is
another matter altogether, but it appears as though Apple knows
what they’re doing.

The CPU scene was pretty stale until AMD shook things up with
Ryzen last year. Intel’s scramble with their 7th generation of
Core CPUs was laughable, but the 8th generation shows promise
(for the future, that is). That being said, Qualcomm
was also flanking Intel on the data-center side with their
ARM-based Centriq CPUs. If Apple can successfully migrate
MacBooks and iMacs to their own ARM CPUs, Intel would lose
another ~10% market-share. AMD might have struck first, but the
blood is in the water and contenders are circling. Microsoft is
already running many Azure services on ARM, we’re seeing more
and more powerful (and cheap) SBCs coming
out (check out the RK3399 based stuff and look forward
to an article on one eventually)
, and the fastest growth
in both performance and affordability is in the variety of ARM
offerings. It looks like a no-brainer. ARM is on the rise, even
in the most well-established brands, Apple notwithstanding.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Would you
like to see ARM take a substantial portion of the market? Do
you think they can? Or is Intel a permanent fixture in

Also Read: Apple Will Kill iPhone X By
Summer 2018, Predicts Analyst


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