Will We See A MacBook Air Running ARM This Year, Thanks To Lion?

Will We See A MacBook Air Running ARM This Year, Thanks To Lion?

An analyst believes that as soon as this year, Apple will rip the Intel right out of the MacBook Air and transfuse an ARM-based chip in its place, maybe even some successor to the iPad 2’s A5 SoC. But that’s just stupid. Isn’t it?

Probably. Although analyst Ben Reitze of Barclays Capital prediction is presumably informed by recent reports suggesting that Apple would switch to ARM processors for MacBooks by 2013… reports we were skeptical of at the time, due to the vast overhead involved with getting OS X running on ARM and porting applications over to run on the architecture.

None of those problems go away with a more aggressive time table. It’s certainly possible — even likely — that Apple has secretly been developing OS X Lion to run on both Intel and ARM architecture, at least as a backup plan, but the impact on developers would be huge, and there’s simply no ARM processors out there right now that are going to outperform Intel’s low-power, 64-bit, multi-core offerings.

2012? No way. 2013 or 2014, though… that may well be another story.

[via AppleBitch]

  • Tom McGrath

    Go ARM! Only because it’s from the UK. I’ve never actually used it.

  • Chris

    Well how about windows on a mac? would that still be possible?

  • Ash9

    …. AMD never denied the possibility of working with
    ARM- the comment was about licenses. However there was never a question
    proposed about them collaborating together on a Fusion type chip for Apple-
    which when connecting the dots makes sense. Yes AMD is focused on APU’s, and
    yes, an ARM Fusion chip, will kill Intel.

    you heard it here first

    asH

  • Articles And Blog Reviews

    Finally there will be a macbook air running an arm based chip

  • prharris2

    Total lockdown.

  • Mike Rathjen

    Future versions of Windows are planned to run on ARM.

    http://www.engadget.com/2011/0

  • Mike Rathjen

    Are you kidding? I still need Rosetta to run some PPC stuff on my Intel, and I use bootcamp a few times a week. I certainly don’t want to move to ARM.

  • Daibidh

    *raises eyebrow*

    The impact on developers would be more than huge. Perhaps an iOS based FrankenMacPad something or other but not a true Mac or anything marketed as a Mac. Apple doesn’t take architecture changes lightly. They would have to see serious long-term disadvantages in remaining with Intel before they would up and switch.

    Perhaps it’s time to re-imagine the JIT compiler concept. Until then, fragmentation is one of Apple’s chief concerns. Personally, they’d have to have one HELL of an ARM processor up their sleeves which absolutely guarantees to mop the floor with Intel present and future before they’d be willing mess with their Mac business.

  • Daibidh

    Oh, I bet you have and just didn’t know it! LoL

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A

  • jnjnjn2

    “…and there’s simply no ARM processors out there right now that are going
    to outperform Intel’s low-power, 64-bit, multi-core offerings…”

    I think your wrong on this. Its also the whole package that counts, so CPU and GPU, especially because of OpenCL and OpenGL and GCD, all totally integrated within Mac OS X and IOS.

    This is also precisely why porting Mac OS X to ARM is a real option because most applications need only to recompile, not to recode.

    Only one problem remains: Windows emulation. But lots (almost all?) of Mac users got rid of the Windows tools they needed and replaced them with native OS X running apps, so problem solved.

    The few remaining Windows users on Mac should not buy a MacBook Air.

    J

  • RYZQI

    I think it makes more sense for Apple to create a new ‘netbook’ class MBA with a variant of Mac OS X that is somewhere between iOS and OS X. This netbook will run on ARM and new Apps will be required which can easily be ported from existing Mac Apps by simply recompiling for ARM. It’s just too much work to migrate the full OS X from Intel to ARM, like what was done for PowerPC to Intel. So it is best to leave Macs alone and besides, Macs are now beginning to eat into PC marketshare. Today Macs are seeing success in the market that wasn’t the case for PowerPC Macs. So again why switch from Intel now? However, if Apple creates a third product category, Windows & Android will have to play catch-up again.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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