Today Intel introduced to the world it’s first ARM based Field Programmable Gate Array. It is designed to allow it to be configured for multiple purposes from Server applications to AI procressing etc and based on Altera Systems ARM designs. A 64 Bit design called the Stratix 10.
As I’ve previously suggested multiple times, Apple are transitioning the Mac Range away from Intel’s x86 architecture and moving towards their ARM based chip sets. Is this Intel getting ready for the switch with a plan to not just get the contracts for Mac chipsets but also for those of all the Apple devices launched from 2018.
Many people have now found the functionality for ARM based chips in the MacOS kernel adding credence to my previous posts and now mainstream media is getting in on the ARM based Mac rumormongering that I have been embracing.
Why would Intel vie for Apple’s ARM processor production contracts instead of fighting to have Apple keep the x86 architecture?
That’s a good question itself, it’s quite simple, x86 architecture is now just incremental updates, there are no massive improvements in speed or functionality. Even the Kabylake chips that are the latest and greatest from Intel just do not have a massive leap from the same chips used in previous models of Mac. Sure, there is the “tiny improvement in speed” but wait, that’s because the clock speed is higher for the equivalent Kabylake processor by the same percentage of increased speed and the boast of extended battery life by an extra hour or so is really a false flag. It’s increased by showing a 4K video while ‘offline’ i.e. Stored on local SSD storage but in other functionality there is no improvement, it’s purely optimized for that one task according to those that know more about the chipset than
I do. Heck, I just want the device to work.
In Intel’s own words, their clock is not tick-tocking anymore with more incremental updates to chips and less massive leaps of technology and even those are further and further apart with issues causing delays.
So for Intel being able to just produce chips while giving them longer to work on better ‘leaps’ in their own technology both keeps the order books full, maybe not making as much by doing contract work but they are making chips and if their fab plants are not running at full capacity then the factories and their employee’s are an operating loss, shuttering a fab plant is not an option, they are expensive to build and expensive to shut down or mothball.
Furthermore by going after the contract for ALL Apple’s ARM based chip production they can keep production at full rate across their whole business and it attracts production contracts for other companies. They will always have customers for x86 chips, the PC market is likely to always be x86 based. Intel are smart, they know that more and more small devices are operating using ARM based chips and less the PC market is declining.
We know that Apple have no qualms about switching architecture in the Mac range. They’ve done it before and while it upset many people got over. More developers are already developing in Swift or switching over to Switch and unlike the switch to the x86 architecture which required major rewrites and the inclusion of an emulator for backwards compatibility much of the software available on for the x86 Mac range can be recompiled into ARM since the OS will continue to have the same API’s and tools which will give cross compiler compatibility it will not be be as big an impact for users.
In fact further to this there is really only one or two applications on macOS that I will struggle with because the rest are on the app store and I am sure that they will be available pretty fast as native ARM based macOS within weeks of a launch and 99% of my usage is Apple’s own app’s that will already be available and for many others the same is true.
I know that many will be upset but just like the headphone jack, floppy drive, DVD drive etc they’ll get over it. I’m holding out for the ARM based Mac.
In fact could Apple be holding out waiting to launch their Mac range and not bringing out new devices to because of this, we will just have to wait and see.