ARM-based MacBooks – a “What if” discussion.
So we’ve been getting rumors about Apple fiddling with ARM architecture for their laptop lineup for quite a while now.
So I would like to give my opinion, as well as to understand what you think about it. So let’s get straight into it.
So to start with, let’s talk about technical side of things. Why would Apple switch their laptop lineup to ARM? Well, ARM is very power efficient in terms of Performance per Watt, which will allow for even longer use w/o charging. Also, ARM chips already use smaller nodes, in comparison to desktop-grade CPUs, which allows to either fit more components on a logic board, or to expand the battery size. And yeah, with power efficiency comes thermals. Laptop-sized device should have no issues with cooling a CPU 2-3 times as powerful as Apple’s current top-tier ARM chip.
It makes total sense for Apple to switch to ARM for one more reason – design control. Upon switching to a chip of their own design, Apple will be able to create a perfect chip for their devices. Additionally they will have all power in the world to tweak the firmware and hardware to maximize performance.
And last, but certainly not least – user experience. Imagine Handoff working not only in safari, but on OS level, so you can start sketching things on your iPad and as soon as you’re ready, you can hand it off to your laptop, and finish it there if you need or want to.
Now about drawbacks. ARM and X86 are different architectures, so devs will have to either create ARM versions of their desktop apps, or tweak current iOS versions to accommodate the switch. I believe, however, that Adobe and other Creative Software Devs will roll out their suites for ARM pretty fast, though there will be “toothing” problems anyways.
So where can I grab that new shiny ARM-based MacBook Pro? Well, I believe it’s going to be a bad decision for Apple to switch all of their Laptops to ARM in one go, so what I see as an ideal scenario is switching MacBook Air to ARM first, provided, that key 3rd party applications (e.g. Adobe Suite / Office /etc. ) are ready for release / are optimized. Then (I guess 1-2 years later at least) all Laptop lineup will be ok to switch. Desktops however will have to wait a bit longer in my opinion, due to different use cases and requirements.
Feel free to discus and share your opinions in the comments.