ARM muscles in
If not ARM then certainly the chip makers who license its architecture are trying to show that it is. And analysts are increasingly considering the notion that ARM will cut into Intel's market share, even past the walls of the the mobile arena.
IDC reckons ARM will have a 13 per cent share of the PC processor market by 2015. That's not so very far behind what AMD has now. Perhaps IDC too has heard the same whispers as SA.
It's hard, right now, to conceive of a 15in MacBook Pro - or the 27in iMac, for that matter, since it too is based on mobile Intel technology - getting the same performance out of an ARM chip circa 2013 as it would from an Intel CPU from the same year.
But the Air line is less performance dependent - it's one element buyers are willing to trade for the sheer bloody portability of the Air's design, though the machine is no slouch - and could provide Apple will a means to test such a shift in processor architcture.
But then it either has to convert the range into iOS machines, to run existing apps, or develop yet another emulator to allow new Air buyers to run their existing OS X apps. Forcing them to re-buy new, ARM-compiled versions of apps seems a very unlikely strategy.
Is that really worth the financial benefits of being able to bulk-buy even more ARM processors, especially when Apple will still be buying chips from Intel? Just for superior battery life, which you can get by underclocking? Or for the unknown - and possibly non-existent - benefits of combining iOS and OS X, two operating systems that may share a common core but have been designed for very different roles?
Especially when Intel would bend over backwards to encourage Apple to stick with x86.
OS X will become more iOS like, and iOS will gain OS X features it currently lacks. The two operating systems will harmonise. But that doesn't mandate their merger or, if that does happen, guarantee Apple can rely on one processor architecture spanning media players, phones, tablets, netbooks, notebooks and desktops.
Just as Intel has yet to prove its x86 chips can match ARM for power efficiency in mobile devices, ARM has yet to show it can match Intel - and AMD - chips for sheer compute performance. Until it does, it's hard to imagine Apple moving MacBook Pros, iMacs and Mac Pros away from Intel. ®
Apple reportedly plans ARM shift for laptops
This argument (AC 07:58) is quite possibly one of the worst arguments that I have ever read. Macs are good because people in Starbucks use them. And Starbucks' clientele are clearly the height of society. Lmao. Oh dear..
They'll use LLVM if they're smart
9 out of 10 of apps really don't care what architecture they're running on.
If Apple are smart they'll offer a LLVM compiler target in OS X. i.e. the app wouldn't be compiled into x86 instructions or ARM instructions, they'd be compiled into LLVM bitcode. At runtime the OS would compile the bitcode into a native binary and cache it somewhere for subsequent execution. It would mean the app would work any supported architecture - ARM, x86, anything. It would mean no more fat binaries, no more worries the next time the OS moves again.
LLVM is an incredibly powerful abstraction layer and I suspect Microsoft will have to do something similar.
Because the HAL doesn't abstract the CPU instruction set?
Obviously, Apple will make the migration easy for new software - potentially as easy as a recompile, if there's no inline x86 assembly, but an existing binary can't run on an ARM system without resorting to x86 emulation.
...the fact the Windows will apparently run on ARM too.
So not only will users get low-power and portability, but also the rich experience of *the* standard environment.
Long game going on here
Even if it does not make sense in the short term it is not suprising that Apple is looking seriously at ARM. Not becasue it is obviously better for the users but it is better for Apple.
Apple is still primarily a hardware company but the ongoing trend in hardware is for more and more of the important hardware to be combined into a single device package. Any company that sticks with Intel are going to end up putting a cosmetic case around the Intel package as all their competitors. This makes it hard to be different enough to charge much of a premium for your hardware.
Things are much easier if you license ARM and build your own processors. Even if most of the hard stuff comes from ARM you still have plenty imput into the design and you can take that oppertunity to make sure your software won't run on 3rd party hardware.
Now I know that Apple are the world leaders in getting people to pay a premium for hardware that is not very dissimilar to everyone elses but there must always be a risk that they might get landed with a legal ruling unambiguously legalising the hackintosh. The more markets they can move to the iphone/ipod modle the better from their point of view.