When the Macbook launched and joined the Macbook Air and Macbook Pro it seemed a strange stablemate for the range, after all, it was lower powered but with some features that were product enhancements. In fact a few of those enhancements have already bled through to the Macbook pro range. The biggest surprise for many was that it was really at a premium price, especially compared to the Air which, even though it is an older machine, is more capable for many tasks.
Why would they choose a such a lower power processor, after all the Intel Atom range of processors is something that was designed for low power consumption and without the need for cooling fans.
Are they preparing users for ARM based machines?
Isn’t the best way to get people used to having lower powered machines running macOS on an ARM based Macbook by using an Intel Atom based processor running macOS.
For many people they don’t need all the power, let’s face it more many they don’t need a Mac at all and an iPad is more than enough for them.
What better way that get people used now. In fact by the time they launch such a machine based on ARM technology they may have enough power to match lower end Macbook pro’s that are currently out and certainly compete with the Macbook Air or even the Macbook Pro.
If you look at the announcement by Intel just days ago that they were entering the market fabricating ARM processors and further rumors that Intel are going after the contracts for producing all the chip fab contracts for Apples A series of processors it may even mark an undisclosed agreement for Intel to get such a contract from Apple which would help offset any lost business for Intel processors if Apple were to switch to sole ARM based architecture for all their devices.
I certainly believe that this may be the case.
What would the transition be like?
I don’t think that there would be an immediate transition. Could there be a co-processor design using an Intel processor with an ARM based processor allowing Apple to use a lower powered Intel chip with the ARM based processor offsetting the lower power, allowing for a transitional Mac range.
Apple already have their own graphics processing systems in the ARM based iPhone, iPad etc , they could just as easily scale this up and use far more cores. While the intel processor provides compatibility with older apps until they deprecate the intel based applications as they push dev’s to transition to running their app’s on the ARM based processor infrastructure and eventually in later hardware releases switch purely to a software based emulation of the Intel processors.
After all this is not the first transition from one architecture and onto another and by using the USB-C connector as the sole connector on the Macbook in 2015 and 2016 they are deprecating all the other connectors that were available and for many rarely used, and switching over to dongles. It really smacks of the ARM design ethos of Minimal connectors.
Macbook Owners, the Apple Hardware Beta Testers!
It could easily be surmised that that Apple are beta testing hardware designs for the ARM transition and this design would be the easiest to switch over to. It is after all the most underpowered of the Macbook range, “by design”, and the easiest to start the transit.
The phrasing by Tim Cook of “Desktop Power” processor (sic) is truly an indicator of the direction that Apple is moving towards.
Could the failure of Intel to release updates to their processor designs on a consistent basis have finally pushed Apple towards such a transit and could Apple be getting ready for the switch over? The Apple engineers certainly feel that their processor designs and hardware is ‘desktop’ quality and 2015 may have been the watershed point where Apple chose to make that transition in their usual, careful, tentative manner.