Another big move for Apple

Do you like the Mac you are using ? Did you recently bought a new Mac. Do you hate the fact that FileMaker supports only two versions of MacOS ?

Here is some food for talk: Apple to move Mac to Arm CPUs: What you need to know Apple to move Mac to Arm CPUs: What you need to know | ZDNet

There were rumors about that, but it seems that it will happen. Mac aficionados, what are your thoughts about that ?

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Imho it’s something that needs to be done and apple isn’t the only one doing that move. Mobile processors are already ahead partially in performance and power efficiency. Last couple generations of high end intel i9 cpu’s are not fit to any laptops (not only macbooks) due to heating problems.

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With the known serious bugs in the Intel chips, I just hope the new chips are more secure.


Why ?

Just think about all those Macs that will get unusable, apps that will not get updated for Intel Macs. Is that good for users ? Apple users went through this in the past withe the move from PowerPC to Intel. There was an emulator on the new Macs that was terrible.

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Hopefully they have a better way to handle that. Even though it was a pain with Apple last time, the transition with Windows felt way worse.

The move to ARM is one of economics, control and improvements.

The economics are easy to understand. Apple already produces a lot of ARM chips. Switching Intel chips for ARM chips increases economies of scale. It also removes a single source supplier, allowing for more resilience in the supply chain and more competitive bidding for its processors.

Apple likes to control the user experience. It likes to offer unique features. It has little to no control over Intel's chip designs. It does, however, design its own ARM chips. Its chip design group regularly talks with its software design groups. This makes possible the kinds of features that make Apple's iDevices stand out of the crowd. Apple wants to do to its computers what it does to its iDevices.

Lastly, there is improvements. Remember that Apple transitioned from 680x0 to PowerPC processors in 1994, then from PowerPC to Intel's x86-64 in 2006. Apple made both transitions because of shortcomings in the chips' development. Intel chips now have serious development shortcomings.

Apple wants ever smaller, more powerful, energy efficient and cooler computers. Smaller transistors and systems on a chip (SoC) go a long way to fulfill these desires. Intel unfortunately lags in both. Its mass production has been stuck at 14 nm since 2014, whereas Apple's ARM chips already use 7nm transistors since 2018. Intel's SoCs are only designed for internet of things devices – not at all suited for computers. Apple's ARM chips are already some of the best SoCs on the market (though you can't buy them).

Will this be good for its users? I suspect most users, not all, will find the transition fairly painless. The transition to ARM chips will be done over the course of a few years, starting with low end computers and making their way to high end. The software development transition started a few years ago already. iOS and Mac OS X have been slowly merging for many years.

Will this mean the loss of Intel only applications? No doubt some! This time, however, there is already a very large installed user base using ARM chips in the iOS world. This should result in a vibrant software ecosystem for the Mac OS (or whatever name it becomes) once the computers use the ARM chips.

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Just keep in mind that ARM chips used in computers will not always be mobile chips. ARM chips can be designed for pretty much any computing scenario, from internet of things devices to servers.

That said, ARM chip designs are currently more power efficient than equivalent Intel chips (even though we are comparing apples and oranges).

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Just found this today.

Ars Technica article on Apple's switch to ARM-based chips.

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Hum, ARM&Hammer ?

It‘s known that some adjustments for software is needed for ARM chips. Some compare this step with the change from PowerPC-Chips to intel or even the move from ClassicOS to OSX. One of those sources (MacRumours, AppleInsider, ...) also mentions that this would be the end of BootCamp. Sure, Parallels and VMWare will deal with it. I‘m more concerned about how this will effect current FileMaker versions.

Not sure about that. As far as I know, VM do not emulate CPUs. On Windows or MacOS you may run versions of Linux for Intel CPU, not ARM versions.

When I used PowerPC Macs, I had RealPC and Virtual PC, two apps that each emulated a PC more or less and run it in a window. Those did dynamic Intel to PPC recompilation on the fly and gave about 50% of speed in Windows.

I think that will be doable and I bet VMWare and Parallels are working on something to offer you something.