Discussion Quo vadis Apple Macs - Intel, AMD and/or ARM CPUs? ARM it is!

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SarahKerrigan

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Oct 12, 2014
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We will see. It's a rumor but yeah in some way wouldn't surprise me as the can use the same SOC as in ipad pro for the lower end devices.



Outperfomr 50-100 in what? Battery life? Maybe. Pure performance? Maybe in browser tests but I wonder how much all the developers using macbooks will like their compile times on these ARM chips. I think they are great for consumer devices (browsing performance, battery life) but not so much for content creation (anything from image processing to actual programming). Due to that apple must ask themselves if it's good that people making actual content will move out of their ecosystem? So either they will need to keep some x86 based devices or come up with a ARM core that also works with compilation (unless that is a graviton2 issue only).
The Graviton2 has literally zero relation to the Apple designs beyond running the same instruction set. Apple's core is an independent implementation, and its performance is considerably higher.

"Graviton2 is bad at something so Apple's chips will be too" is as valid as "Intel Atom is bad at something so Zen2 will be too." They share nothing beyond the instruction set.
 

amrnuke

Senior member
Apr 24, 2019
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That's why Apple will encourage developers to use Apple's APIs, which are arch neutral.
So ship MBP 13" on ARM for developers only, anyone who needs MBP for work has to use the higher end version, or an older model. Once developers have ported to Apple's APIs then it won't matter.

Hopefully they keep an x86 version of MBP 13" in that case, for those who need x86 while apps are worked on, but don't need a 16" MBP.
 

Doug S

Member
Feb 8, 2020
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I still have my reservations about heat / performance of ARM in these laptops doing long runs of multicore processing, considering my iPhone 11 gets hot just running Zoom calls over cellular.
The cellular chip is responsible for that. The only time my iPhone 11 max ever gets beyond "warm" is when it is on cellular. Even something relatively simple like browsing Facebook over cellular gets it warmer than it gets much more demanding apps via wifi.

This is true of all phones, a cellular radio simply requires more power than wifi for several reasons but mostly because it is sending data much further.

Also, a laptop has a lot more mass to spread the heat around, and a lot more surface area to shed the heat. It can also use heat management techniques not available to phones, like heat sinks/pipes and fans.
 

SarahKerrigan

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Oct 12, 2014
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"Today, we're announcing that the Mac is transitioning to our own custom silicon."

That's odd. I heard a lot in this thread that this would never happen.
 
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beginner99

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Jun 2, 2009
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"Graviton2 is bad at something so Apple's chips will be too" is as valid as "Intel Atom is bad at something so Zen2 will be too." They share nothing beyond the instruction set.
fair enough but that is all the data we have and in these workload the interconnect and memory controller matters a lot which both might come from ARM IP directly.
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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"Today, we're announcing that the Mac is transitioning to our own custom silicon."
I wonder how many different chips they will use each year.

I also wonder if Apple Rosetta will exist for ARM.

That's odd. I heard a lot in this thread that this would never happen.
I think in the popular press, Arm Macs were a considered a foregone conclusion. It was not a matter of if, but when.

EDIT:

Final Cut and Logic Pro are already running on ARM natively.

Universal 2 fat binaries.

Their dev platform is A12Z.
 
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beginner99

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Jun 2, 2009
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I think given their vertical integration they can profit from this by using a ton of dedicated hardware for all kinds of stuff. Similar to consoles were you only have to worry about 1 config compared to PC where the CPU does it all and you can have any number of configs. On notebook this can save a ton of battery.
Still waiting to see what happens with the mac pro which can be had with dual socket xeons. I just don't see how it is financially worth it to make a SOC just for the Mac pro, even as loss leader. from ipad pro to macbook pro to imac that should be doable with 2 SOCs but the Mac pro alone has so many options it would need alone another 2 SOCs or Apples own very good multi-socket interconnect.
 

SarahKerrigan

Member
Oct 12, 2014
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I think given their vertical integration they can profit from this by using a ton of dedicated hardware for all kinds of stuff. Similar to consoles were you only have to worry about 1 config compared to PC where the CPU does it all and you can have any number of configs. On notebook this can save a ton of battery.
Still waiting to see what happens with the mac pro which can be had with dual socket xeons. I just don't see how it is financially worth it to make a SOC just for the Mac pro, even as loss leader. from ipad pro to macbook pro to imac that should be doable with 2 SOCs but the Mac pro alone has so many options it would need alone another 2 SOCs or Apples own very good multi-socket interconnect.
The Mac Pro is a single-socket machine.
 

senttoschool

Golden Member
Jan 30, 2010
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My opinion on most likely to least likely scenarios:

Scenario 1: Apple does not use AMD CPUs at all. Apple's laptop arm chips should almost be ready. They will move all of their laptops to ARM by the end of next year. Moving them to AMD is wasted engineering and marketing effort even though they'll be uncompetitive for up to a year until the entire lineup gets moved to ARM. Their Mac Pro lineups are low volume so they won't bother. Intel will also lower prices to help the Mac Pro compete. Apple will take its time building a giant ARM chip for Mac Pros and migrate them over within the next 5 years.

Scenario 2: Apple only uses Threadripper/Epyc chips for Mac Pros. Laptops and iMacs will still be ARM only. For this to happen, Apple might think that building a chip that can compete with Threadripper/Epyc is going to take another 5+ years and Intel won't catch AMD in the meantime. They'd rather have their engineers focus on improving their mobile and laptop SoCs in the for now which are much higher volume. They'll eventually move Mac Pros over to ARM but not for a while.

Scenario 3 (my wish): Apple moves to Zen2/Zen3 for 1-2 years before ARM. This could happen if their ARM chips aren't ready and Intel just can't come close to Renoir and Zen3+Navi2. MacBook Pros will move to AMD APUs. iMacs will use Ryzen. Mac Pros will piggyback on the effort and move to Epyc. Maybe they'll experiment with ARM for the Air first.

Scenario 4: Apple stays with Intel for 2 more years before ARM. In this scenario, Apple's ARM chips aren't ready yet but Intel's 10nm is able to compete somewhat and/or gives Apple a major discount. Apple deems the effort to move over to AMD as not worth it in the mean time.

Keep in mind that Apple envisions apps working seamlessly between iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS. This is not a secret. The best way to achieve this is to have all of their platforms run the same CPU architecture. Apple will move to ARM no matter what to make this a reality. It's only a matter of when.

I wish for scenario 3 to happen. I own a 2015 Macbook Pro 15" and every Macbook Pro since has been complete garbage. I need an upgrade but I will refuse to upgrade if I have to buy a 14nm Intel CPU in 2020. And I highly doubt Apple will upgrade their 16" Macbook Pro to ARM before late 2021.

I also think that if Apple calls AMD and says they'll use an AMD APU for the next 2 years, AMD will bend over backward to release Zen3+Navi2 APU asap. AMD would see it as an opportunity to put their best products in the most premium computers on the market. It's the fastest way to shed their "budget" image forever.
I'm pretty spot on with my page one prediction.

The biggest surprise is Apple saying the transition will complete within 2 years which means the Mac Pro's transition will come much earlier than my "within 5 years" prediction.

They must be cooking up a beast of a SoC to compete with Xeon and Epyc processors.
 
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senttoschool

Golden Member
Jan 30, 2010
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1. Adobe already has virtually all of its Creative Suite working on iOS and iPad.
2. Adobe is also bringing their entire Creative Suite to work on Windows ARM (source)
3. Apple will provide an x86 emulator just like they did previously when they migrated from PowerPC
4. Apple is going to switch to ARM. They'll start in 2021. Their SDK already makes it easy to build apps for iOS, iPad, and MacOS together.

Whether Apple will move to ARM is no longer debated. They will. It's not a discussion.

Now we're discussing whether Apple should switch to AMD in the next year or so and for which computers.
Pretty spot on with this as Adobe will bring their entire Creative Suite over to ARM Macs.
 

senttoschool

Golden Member
Jan 30, 2010
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Apple is not switching Macs to ARM. Don't manipulate my words to fit your agenda. It only shows your toxicity in discussion, when faced with point of view that is not fitting yours.

There is a difference in releasing Mac that is powered by ARM, and Switching their whole lineup to ARM. Which is why I asked you about switching from top-to bottom, porting Logic Pro and FCPX to ARM/iOS.

Apple will release ARM based Macs? Yes. Will Mac Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Mini, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro be updated with ARM CPUs in upcoming future? No.
Yea. This is way off. :confused:
 
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Stuka87

Diamond Member
Dec 10, 2010
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The performance will be interesting to see. Intel has been stagnant for years, and still stuck on 10nm 14nm for most chips. TSMC is building 5nm chips for Apple.

As for the transition, the PPC to Intel transition went very smoothly. I see no reason why this won't also go smoothly. Although its a bit comical that Apple has gone from CISC (68k), to RISC (PPC), to CISC (Intel), and now back to RISC (ARM).

Edit: Fixed typo of 10 vs 14nm.
 
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Thala

Senior member
Nov 12, 2014
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The whole thing seems like it could be a mess / fractured. Developers have to maintain both ARM and x86 versions of their pro software for Mac Pro/MBP x86, MBP ARM, iPad ARM, just on the Apple side.
There is no different SW between MacPro/MBP x86 and ARM. It is in fact the SAME SW just compiled for different targets.
 

trexfromouterspace

Junior Member
Feb 17, 2020
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The performance will be interesting to see. Intel has been stagnant for years, and still stuck on 10nm for most chips. TSMC is building 5nm chips for Apple.

As for the transition, the PPC to Intel transition went very smoothly. I see no reason why this won't also go smoothly. Although its a bit comical that Apple has gone from CISC (68k), to RISC (PPC), to CISC (Intel), and now back to RISC (ARM).
A bit, though it also goes to show that the CISC vs RISC rhetoric that gets thrown around is pointless. It comes down to which companies are executing. Intel's been stagnant for years, and AMD's only just recovered from their construction equipment phase. Meanwhile Apple and other ARM vendors have been getting solid improvements each generation. A few years of them advancing and a few years of Intel not puts Intel behind. Intel never took ARM seriously and they're going to start paying the price.
 

Thala

Senior member
Nov 12, 2014
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fair enough but that is all the data we have and in these workload the interconnect and memory controller matters a lot which both might come from ARM IP directly.
Apple has its own memory controller and fabric. Besides - comparing a memory controller for a 64 core server with one for a desktop/laptop system makes not much sense anyway.
In addition, compilation is a system test and not a CPU test in the first place. So unless the mass storage controller and SSD was totally the same, the result bears not much meaning. In particular compilation tests are more often then not I/O bound and not compute bound.
 

Thala

Senior member
Nov 12, 2014
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MS Office is already up and running natively. Too bad MS can't say the same thing for Office on Windows-on-Arm.
Office is running great on the Surface Pro X, since they are using CHPE libaries. No particular need to use a native implementation - in particular if you lose plugin compatibility in the process.
 

Richie Rich

Senior member
Jul 28, 2019
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They must be cooking up a beast of a SoC to compete with Xeon and Epyc processors.
Exactly, good catch. It looks like Apple can scale those A14 cores up and create a beast. However to compete with 48/64-core EPYCs it must be something really huge. Probably four chips in NUMA like Zen1... (4x 12-core A14 => 48-core beast)
 

IntelUser2000

Elite Member
Oct 14, 2003
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