Entries in ARM (1)


Apple Rumour Discussion cont'd

iOS Notifications

Overdue. What more is there to say? I hope the release of iOS 5 coincides with WWDC as I'm already getting tired of the current iOS notifications and I've only had an iOS device for just over a month.

Apple switching to Arm from Intel

I can see Apple making such a change. Apple likes to control the as much of the supply chain as they can. It allows them to tailor the hardware to their vision. That's why they made their own Arm processors for iOS devices in the first place.

Arm processors are quite often destined for the embedded market. They are quite often much lower Mhz than Intel desktop processors and have much smaller bus widths. This often limits their performance when compared Atom processors in such devices as NAS appliances. Reviews of such devices over at Small Net Builder demonstrate the limitations of such embedded systems and with these chips in mind it's obvious that Apple would never use them in their laptops or desktops.

But Apple wouldn't be using *those* Arm based chips in their laptops/desktops they'd be using their own Arm based chips. Arm has designs for 2Ghz dual core Systems on a Chip (SoC) that use 1.9 Watts. That's an absolutely tiny amount of power consumption compared to the Intel Core 2 Duos that are currently used in the MacBook Airs. Apple used to have some measure of control in their CPU designs back when they were involved with IBM and Motorola in designing the PowerPC chips. Steve Jobs would no doubt want that control back. Apple could conceivable make their own Arm chips that had the I/O bandwidth they required. Normal desktop usage doesn't require a super powerful general purpose CPU. How much CPU is required to input text into a text editor or display a website? Not much. While other systems typically perform all their necessary crypto or audio/video encoding/decoding on the general purpose ARM is a complete System on a Chip (SoC) that would include these co-processors in the same package as the ARM CPU cores. 

Some people have argued that Apple wouldn't switch from Intel chips after investing so heavily to make the switch so recently (announced in 2005, completed in 2007). But that is bullshit. Apple has switched their CPU architecture before. 3 times! From the 6500 to the 68k, from the 68k to the PowerPC and then from PowerPC to Intel. Apple has more experience performing CPU architecture changes than anybody and this time they'll be even better situated to perform the change on some of their systems thanks to the Mac App Store. In previous transitions Apple used Fat/Universal Binaries that would contain the programming instructions for both the old and new architectures to manage the transition. This time, using the Mac App Store, software vendors would simply upload both to the store and then the app store would decide which version would be needed for the users' system and only download that one. Easy.

Some have stated that Apple wouldn't make a switch to ARM until there was 64bit support in the ARM architecture. Apparently these people are unaware that the MacBooks and MacBook Airs with their limit of 4GB of RAM do not come with support for 64bit kernel and drivers.

Having the same CPU in the iPhone, iPad and Macs would bring a savings in hardware costs as they would benefit from the savings that come with mass production. It's even conceivable that the Macs could use multiple A(5,6,7,whatever)s to to meet the higher processor performance expectations of Apples laptop and desktop systems. I don't expect that current Apple ARM based processors are ready for the Mac Desktops or MacBook Pros, but perhaps the 11" MacBooks in Apple's version of a netbook. Too bad Netbooks died just like windows based tablet's died long ago. *snicker*

The best time to deploy new Arm based laptops would be with a new version of MacOS. With expected MacBook Air announcements coming in June as well as the expectation of MacOS Lion it wouldn't surprised me at all if the smaller MacBook Air is announced to be ARM based.