How Apple Might Introduce ARM CPUs in Future Macs

2018 MacBook Air.
2018 MacBook Air
2018 MacBook Air. Image credit: Apple.

The Particle Debris article of the week comes from Jason Snell at Macworld.

“ARM Macs are coming, three years after Apple’s attitude change.

…this week, reliable Apple supply-chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple plans on releasing a Mac with an Apple-designed processor in the first half of 2021.

So what’s notable here? We’ve been hearing rumors about Apple taking its Macs to ARM for years. But author Snell, in this new essay, suggests the following.

I fully expect that Apple’s pro-level Macs will remain on Intel or compatible processors for a while, perhaps even indefinitely. I’m confident that Apple can replace the Intel processors in consumer Macs with its own, but the pro side is a trickier proposition.

Now, I’ve been told that wouldn’t be hard to include virtual machine hardware in the ARM chips so that pro users could run VM apps like Parallels. But perhaps the combination of VMs in a non-X86 instruction set environment would be too big a headache for pro users — and Apple engineers.

That said, it makes perfect sense to think about only some, appropriate, consumer Macs to be converted to ARM. Or just one. Perhaps the MacBook Air. That way, the consumer can have a choice to go ARM or Intel.

Also, Apple can navigate forward incrementally. If the new Mac doesn’t work out, it would be easy to discontinue the experiment. (Like the 12-inch MacBook.) Or, if things go really well, Apple could slowly expand the change to other, selected Macs in the lineup.

Author Snell’s notion of keeping the pro Macs on Intel minimizes risk to the Mac lineup, for the time being, and grants Apple enormous flexibility going forward. I like it.

The Week’s News Debris

• From FOXBusiness: Steve Jobs’ widow vows Apple co-founder’s fortune will be given away.”

Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, joined one of the world’s most exclusive groups when she inherited her husband’s multibillion-dollar fortune in 2011 after the visionary’s death in 2011.

Now, the 56-year-old billionaire philanthropist — the 36th richest person in the world, worth a little over $25 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index — is vowing to give her fortune away.

• I continue to be unimpressed by the strategy NBCUniversal is using for its forthcoming TV streaming service called Peacock. “NBCU’s Peacock streaming service adds hundreds of hours of A&E shows.” Here’s why.

Adding a boatload of old A&E shows isn’t going to make the service more attractive to the majority of smart, target customers. I explain here:

[How TV Streaming Services Seduce Consumers]

This game plan smacks of early desperation by the suits and simply validates the strategy others are using: great original content and a signature series.

• We don’t need any new headaches, nowadays, and this next is guaranteed to give you one. It did for me. But building new neural pathways is always painful. “Buying a 5G phone is already a confusing mess.” I know I’m going to read this several more times. Assuming author Triggs got it all correct, I have only one reaction. OMG.

• Finally,

Ahem. Replicator: Tea, Earl Grey, decaff.

Particle Debris is generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

3 thoughts on “How Apple Might Introduce ARM CPUs in Future Macs

  • Regarding phone companies, 5G, and 5G phones, being Apple users we assume that Apple will get it right with its 5G iPhones. But as the referenced article points out, the carriers have a mess with all the “standards”. I’m glad I upgraded to the iPhone 11 Pro Max last year. Now I can wait for Apple and the carriers to get 5G right.

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