Apple’s Former Mac Chief Believes That PC Makers Will Be Forced to Switch to ARM

Tsing

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In a recent Medium post, former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée discussed the company’s switch to ARM-based chips and the performance of its first in-house silicon for Macs: the A12Z. Based on its early performance – which is quite impressive, apparently – Gassée is pitching the idea that Microsoft, Intel, and other PC giants will inevitably be compelled to ditch x86 due to the increasing viability and presence of ARM architecture, as prompted by Apple’s recent push.



“According to Geekbench tests, A12Z performance matches or exceeds my MacBook Pro,” Gassee points out. “Apple doesn’t disclose the TDP for the A12Z processor, but we can rely on an indirect number, the iPad Pro’s 18W power adapter output. This gives us an idea of what to expect from Apple Silicon in future Macs: Significantly...

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Burticus

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I guess anything is possible. x86 only exists because of legacy crap, if EVERYONE got on board and changed teams, then maybe. Old programs could still be access via some type of VM / emulator tech.

I mean if nvidia/amd/intel/MS can all get on the same track, who knows. What are the odds that everyone cooperates? Just about f*cking zero
 

Zarathustra

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I highly doubt it.

There is nothing wrong with ARM, but the truth is that both ARM and x86 (and MIPS, and RISC V) are competent instruction sets, and all else being equal, there is very little difference in performance and/or power use between different competent instruction sets. You can make an x86 chip more efficient, and you can make an ARM chip more powerful.

Performance is more dependent on the competent design of architecture combined with node size, regardless of instruction set.

The difference is in their heritage and historical design goals. ARM was targeted more towards embedded devices where the power envelope was smaller, and thus more efficient chips were designed, and through continuous improvement this snowballed over time. x86 was targeted at large performant systems for large portions of its history, and design choices drove vendors in those directions.

There is no reason you can't go in opposite directions. A few years ago I had an x86 based dual core Asus Zenfone 2, and it performed very well for the time.

If a change comes over time, it will not be because of inherent performance or power efficiency benefits of either instruction set. It will be because one architecture becomes dominant to the point where software developers don't want to deal with multiple instruction sets, and this starts to outweigh the benefits of backwards compatibility.
 
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Grimlakin

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I'll say this. Apple is more brave than any other manufacturer I've seen of systems. They have switched from Motorola chips, to Power PC IBM chips, to Intel Chips, and now to their own ARM Chips in the time I've been around watching the company run. They've completely alienated customers and forced massive licensing repurchases from vendors on MULTIPLE occasions, and for whatever reason the customers that are MAC shops just stick with it every time over and over. Either the level of support and every other facet of the experience is so great that they don't care. Or there is some sort of artist crack in those systems that keeps them coming back for more abuse.
 

Zarathustra

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I'll say this. Apple is more brave than any other manufacturer I've seen of systems. They have switched from Motorola chips, to Power PC IBM chips, to Intel Chips, and now to their own ARM Chips in the time I've been around watching the company run. They've completely alienated customers and forced massive licensing repurchases from vendors on MULTIPLE occasions, and for whatever reason the customers that are MAC shops just stick with it every time over and over. Either the level of support and every other facet of the experience is so great that they don't care. Or there is some sort of artist crack in those systems that keeps them coming back for more abuse.

They have the COURAGE to stick it to their user base over and over again, because like foolish puppy dogs they keep coming back for more.

The COURAGE to eliminate the headphone jack...
 

Brian_B

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I think the general public won’t care a bit. 95%+ probably don’t know what CPU they are running now.

The public will care about a few factors:
-Price
-Useability (battery life, ports, etc)
-Ergonomics
-“Cool” factor / marketing
-Compatibility (this could be accomplished via VMs / emulators so long as it’s transparent to the user)
-Performance — not necessarily top performance, but a “good enough” level
-Availability
-Technical support

Popular devices don’t have to check every box, but the more the better.

If Windows RT had made compatibility with x86 / x64 apps a priority, it probably would have taken off. That’s the biggest reason Apple has been successful with its own CPU migrations - Rosetta is pretty seamless and transparent.
 

Dan_D

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Either the level of support and every other facet of the experience is so great that they don't care.

I can tell you from personal experience supporting Mac systems that Apple support is the worst when compared to big OEMs like HP, Dell etc.
 
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