Apple makes the fastest smartphone processors on the market and the company has been claiming for years that its iPad Pro tablets can outperform laptops with Intel processors at certain tasks.

So it’s not surprising that analysts have been claiming for years that Apple would eventually stop using Intel processors in its Mac computers and instead switch to its own ARM-based processors. The move would give the company more control over the performance of its laptop and/or desktop PCs and allow Apple to ensure that the hardware and software work together seamlessly.

While it’ll probably be a while before Apple ditches Intel altogether, a new report from Bloomberg suggests that we could see the first Mac with an ARM-based processor as soon as 2021. The company is said to be working on new processors that will most likely be used in upcoming MacBook laptops.

Here’s a roundup of recent tech news from around the web.

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5 replies on “Lilbits 391: Better WiFi and ARM-based Macs”

  1. WARNING, IT’S A TECHNICAL AND LONG RANT/COMMENT.

    First things first, Apple is the producer of the worlds most efficient CPU: the Apple Thunder Cores. These bad-boys running at 1.7GHz are slightly more powerful than your typical Cortex A73 cores when running at 1.8GHz, yet they actually use less power than the typical Cortex A53 cores when running at 1.9GHz. That’s a huge efficiency gap for the Cortex A73, A77, or A78 to close. Or its a huge performance gap for the Cortex A53, A55, or A58 to close. And remember, these are out-of-order execution 64bit processing core.

    Secondly, Apple is the producer of the worlds most powerful CPU: the Apple Lightning Cores. The old 2018 Vortex cores found in the A12Z (2.4GHz) produce single-core performance roughly equal to the Intel Core i9 processor running at 2.4GHz. The A13’s large cores (Lightning) when clocked to 2.4GHz (or higher) will likely slightly surpass Intel’s best. And that’s when comparing an Active-Cooled “45W” chipset in the MacBook Pro 16″ to the Passive Cooled “10W” chipset in the iPad Pro 11″. It’s debatable that Apple perhaps hasn’t caught up to Intel, or that they may even be beaten by the likes of AMD’s latest 3950X or 4900HS or 4800U. But what is clear is that Apple is in spitting distance in this race between the three.

    People don’t buy MacBooks to run Linux or Windows on them. Yes, it’s possible, but people rather use OS X as it has some advantages and it is far more optimised. Shifting things from an Intel-macOS system to an Apple A14X-iOSX system is likely going to create more performance, less battery drain. Essentially you’re cutting out the fat that comes from the legacy of x86 code. Vertical Integration. So losing UEFI/Bootcamp on these next-generation MacBook’s is actually not a concern. People that need OS X will go to using the old MacBooks from 2015-2020 running Mohave, not bad. Those that want to move with the tide will use “iMac OS” on these new 2021 ARM-MacBook Pros. Others that need Windows10 Pro will goto using something like an ASUS. And those that want Linux will research carefully and probably pick up a specific Lenovo model.

    The new MacBook Pros should be able to deliver slightly more performance, in a thinner, lighter, cooler and quieter package. All whilst providing slightly more battery life. And that’s just the first iteration / generation. They’re likely to be slightly cheaper too. So I welcome the change and challenge. It will mean Microsoft will get more determined to compete. And the Linux community may get their act together a little, so those ARM-based projects might get more traction… which is great for both phones, tablets, TV Boxes, and of course the ARMbooks.

  2. I still dread the day that Apple does this, because it means everyone else will surely follow. That means UEFI vanishes, and with it, the ability to install anything other than the preloaded operating system.
    Even if the manufacturer doesn’t arbitrarily restrict you, the kernel has to be (re)developed for the particular CPU. Maybe something like UEFI will come back if ARM gets popular enough, but I doubt it will intrinsically permit arbitrary code execution. None of the large IT companies these days think you should have the right to choose.

    1. There’s coreboot already (it supports x86, mips, risc-v, and (of course) arm), and you can replace ChromeOS with your choice of OS, even on arm-based Chromebooks — but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong about manufacturers using it as an excuse to lock things down. 🙁

    2. While you are probably right, I see no real reason to buy a Mac and use it with something which is not MacOS.
      There are plenty of other very good laptops and you should waive Apple goodbye with your wallet if you prefer a non MacOS operating system.

      1. I agree. I’ll pass on the battery life savings for the ability to run a linux OS on different hardware.

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