Analyst: Don’t Be Daft, Apple’s Not Moving MacBooks To ARM

Analyst: Don’t Be Daft, Apple’s Not Moving MacBooks To ARM

Will Apple, as rumored, shift the MacBook line over to an ARM processor this year, starting with the MacBook Air? If you answered yes to that question, one analyst has some compelling reasons why you might just be huffing fumes.

According to a report from David Kanter over at Real World Technologies (hat tip: AppleBitch, Apple doesn’t exactly have a lot of captivating reasons to switch.

Why? Well, for one thing, ARM’s not likely to match x86 performance for years to come: it’s not even 64-bit yet. Even when ARM does match x86 performance, there’s no reason to be sure it’ll boast better power efficiency than Intel’s chips. Then there’s the requirement to emulate x86 on ARM, at least initially, to maintain compatibility with software… a move Apple’s unlikely to want to make in the near future, given the years of divided attention they had to give to Power PC and Intel.

We already touched on these issues when we previously reported the rumors, but here’s one we hadn’t thought of: Thunderbolt. Apple and Intel got into bed together big time for Thunderbolt, and it’s not going to work on ARM for the foreseeable future.

So file the ARM-based MacBook rumors into the trash bin where they belong. We’re years away from seeing Apple computers running on ARM… if we ever do.

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  • Alasdair Allan

    While I agree with all of your arguments for now, on a three to five year timescale, I’m not so sure. I can’t see Apple not wanting more control of hardware, rather than less, and they’ve now got in-house ARM design experience. Those people have cut their teeth on the A4 and now the A5. I doubt Apple is going to back away from that, and I can’t see them moving the iPhone and the iPad to Intel, so in the longer term I think that their laptop range will be moving to ARM. To be honest, with the discontinuation of the Xserve, I think the writing is on the wall for the iMac and the Mac Pro. Of course trying to predict what Apple will do has always been interesting…

  • Fahadaminkhan

    Mac OS Lion is being tested on ARM too,
    just like Tiger was tested on Intel , even though it was launched on Power PC

  • RETARD

    Requirement to emulate x86? Did they emulate PPC initially when mac moved from it to x86?

  • mkd

    apple said they had been developing and x86 version of OS X alongside PPC since the beginning ^^

  • Andrew

    Expanding on the point about thunderbolt… iPhones use arm therefore, how will thunderbolt sync an iPhone to a Mac?

  • haineux

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R… — The rumor is that Rosetta is dead in Lion, but we shall see for sure.

  • haineux

    Right now, Intel has no chips being used in phones and tablets, and it’s safe to say that they are very aware of that fact. “Three to five years” is long enough for them to design an entirely new chip, from scratch, that would be x86-ish and tablet-friendly.

    The question is, “Are they doing it?” In the past, they refused to do so, urging companies to ship more-capable machines. Now an entire iPad, cranking at max, uses less power than their Atom CPU+support chip, alone.

  • denkster

    ARM + Intel to run OS-X (the cat thing) + iOS ?

  • Stuart Otterson

     Nothing is for certain, but you can bet Apple has been secretly developing such a processor to test OSX on. Like @a32f9e270f346b9d20859688915dda38:disqus  says for a long time OSX was secretly developed to also run on Intel, so Apple are keeping their options open. If it happens, you can be sure it’ll have been in the works for a few years so things work properly and if it doesn’t happen we’ll never know such things behind the scenes were happening.  says for a long time OSX was secretly developed to also run on Intel, so Apple are keeping their options open. If it happens, you can be sure it’ll have been in the works for a few years so things work properly and if it doesn’t happen we’ll never know such things behind the scenes were happening.

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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