Apple ARM’s for battle

If you enjoyed the PC wars, you’ll love the connected everything annihilation

Apple, ARM, Intel, Mac
Credit: Apple

Apple is not an imitation. It plans its own future and while it takes inspiration from everywhere, it remains resolutely committed to adapting new ideas within its own unique expression. That’s what Steve Jobs meant when he said “Great artists steal”.

Macs are moving to ARM

A Bloomberg report suggests Apple plans to give more responsibility to ARM processors inside future Macs.

The Apple Touch ID unit used inside the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is already powered by its own ARM-based chip, which runs independent of the Intel processor.

The report tells us Apple plans to put an ARM chip inside future Macs that will be responsible for handling “low-power tasks”, such as background app activity, Power Nap mode and so on.

Better battery

This should help improve Mac battery life, the report explains. It specifically suggests that Macs will be more able to retrieve e-mails, install software updates, and synchronize calendar appointments with the display shut and not in use.

This is what Power Nap already does, though by default it only does so when your Mac is connected to a power supply. (You can override this in System Preferences, but you are likely to see an impact on battery life).

The report claims Apple intends popping the new processor inside MacBook Pro models later this year. These are expected to use Intel’s Kaby Lake chips as their main processor. It has previously been suggested they will appear in Q2.

Inevitability and gradualness

I don’t think it’s all about power, even though better power management as a slogan seems to echo beyond the technology industry these days.

I imagine it also means you’ll see another level of iOS-like performance on your Mac.

Your apps will be on without lag, data will sync between Apple platforms, and you will also see the kind of tight storage management and retrieval you may have become used to on iOS devices.

Chips with vroom

We first began to hear speculation Apple may migrate the Mac to ARM back in 2011.

That's when reports claimed Apple would need to develop 64-bit iOS chips in order to enable this transition.

Apple’s A-series processors have been 64-bit since the iPhone 5s.

They have been through multiple iterations since and the current model is the fastest mobile processor money can buy. It will be until Apple improves it again later this year in the new iPad Pro.

The company has poured resources into processor development and the next iPad refresh in calendar Q2 will offer an A-series chip capable of PC-type performance. PCs will be trucks, but it takes time.

What next?

This isn’t about Intel.

There is no doubt that the ability to run Windows on Macs has helped Apple build Mac market share since the Intel transition took place.

Apple doesn’t need to sacrifice that advantage.

Windows 10 already runs on ARM-based processors, and Intel has already reached a deal to make ARM-based chips. Apple can migrate without losing key partnerships – but it is not time… yet.

Mobile technology is pervading every part of life. Connected everything means mobile processors will be everywhere, so it makes sense to ensure our PCs are deeply compatible with these things.

Bloomberg’s warning that Apple is giving ARM chips more responsibilities within future Macs reflects a wider move, one in which the computer is everywhere and inside everything.

Apple has no intention of being at any disadvantage on this emerging battlefield. It is equipped for the critical everything everywhere platform war, with the future of the world at stake.

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