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  • Apple’s Move To ARM : The Passing of Wintel

    Posted on Alex5723 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support PC hardware Apple’s Move To ARM : The Passing of Wintel

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      • #2279998 Reply
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        by Jean-Louis Gassée

        We’re about to enter an exciting, messy transition. Not only will Apple Silicon make better Macs, it will force Microsoft to polish its Windows on ARM act, both hardware and software. In turn, this will cause PC OEMs to reconsider their allegiance to x86 silicon…and that will have serious consequences for the old Wintel partnership.

        https://mondaynote.com/apple-silicon-the-passing-of-wintel-79a5ef66ad2b

      • #2280592 Reply
        Ascaris
        AskWoody_MVP

        Not only will Apple Silicon make better Macs, it will force Microsoft to polish its Windows on ARM act, both hardware and software.

        Comments directed rhetorically to the article’s author…

        It does not follow that just because Mac moves on to a new platform, Windows will need to follow. They can stay on x86 and still have the advantage that keeps them at 88% market share… namely, the vast library of software that’s out there.

        Users would not make the move to ARM until the software they needed was available on the ARM platform, and software vendors would not develop ARM versions of the software until there were enough users to justify the effort. It’s the classic chicken/egg issue, a problem that prevented Microsoft from getting a foothold in the mobile market in which both of their main competitors had established app stores.

        It’s a mistake to compare Microsoft and Apple too closely.  Apple has become an accomplished ARM CPU designer, and they wish to have a source for CPUs for their own hardware that they control. It would be an Apple CPU in an Apple Mac running Apple software. It’s called vertical integration, and it has a number of benefits for Apple that don’t have to do at all with power consumption or performance.

        If Apple ceases to manufacture x86 Macs, the software vendors will have little choice but to go along and release ARM versions of their software, if they want to remain relevant on the Mac platform.  They can do that, as they are the sole supplier of hardware for the Mac/MacOS platform.  Apple has control over the Mac platform in a way that Microsoft does not have over theirs.

        Unless Microsoft was willing to force the adoption of ARM Windows by completely dropping the x86 version, which would make longtime partner Intel, AMD, their customers, and hardware OEMs quite irate, they would have to do as they are now… which is to offer the ARM version alongside the x86 one. As long as they do that, I’d bet that people are going to do just as they have been with the Surface devices… to pick the one that has all the software, not the one that might possibly have it sometime later (but quite possibly also might not) instead of the one with the absolute best power efficiency.  Lots of PCs are used primarily or exclusively on AC power, and for them, power consumption is not a very important factor. For those that are frequently used on battery power, longer battery life means nothing if the thing can’t run the software the user requires during that greater run time.

        How great that power efficiency advantage ends up being remains to be seen. One thing’s clear, though, and that’s that Apple won’t be selling its CPUs to its Windows competitors.  Simply fielding an ARM design doesn’t mean it will be the equal of Apple’s.

        Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.19.4).

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        • #2280846 Reply
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Ascaris: “If Apple ceases to manufacture x86 Macs, the software vendors will have little choice but to go along and release ARM versions of their software, if they want to remain relevant on the Mac platform. They can do that, as they [Apple] are the sole supplier of hardware for the Mac/MacOS platform.

          While I agree, by and large with the rest of the comment, I need to point out an important fact regarding the statement quoted above: as a transition, and likely a permanent feature (because why not?) the new version, coming out later this year, of macOS called “Big Sur” will include a feature called “Rosetta” (for obvious reasons) that will sit between existing application software designed to run on machines with Intel chips and the kernel that, among other things, takes the instructions from the rest of the software and passes them to the CPU. So people will be able to continue using their “Intel Era” software after the new “ARM Era” gets going. No doubt developers will come up with new versions of their software fit for the new era, particularly games, because the performance will be faster without going through “Rosetta” all the time. But as long as Apple keeps “Rosetta” around and allows “Intel era” applications to run with its blessing, the change to ARM chips should not be so disruptive as to unnecessarily cause a strong negative response among users. It might also be the case that developers keep both Intel and ARM versions available for download and may even continue to update their Intel applications, at least with security patches. Well see.

          The real issue here, to be resolved through actual experience, is how well is all this going to work in real life.

          For my part, with an “Intel Era” Mac that, presumably, still has plenty of life left in it, at a youngish 3 years of age, with some pretty expensive Intel-Era compilers (actually developed by Intel) installed on it, I plan to wait a good long time before moving to “Big Sur”, once I see clearly how the change to ARM works out for users such as myself.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2280905 Reply
        mn–
        AskWoody Lounger

        Users would not make the move to ARM until the software they needed was available on the ARM platform, and software vendors would not develop ARM versions of the software until there were enough users to justify the effort. It’s the classic chicken/egg issue, a problem that prevented Microsoft from getting a foothold in the mobile market in which both of their main competitors had established app stores.

        Although, I’m sort of hopeful… a lot of the open source stuff is already available for ARM, and MacOS is UNIX(r) so should have at a minimum all the source-compatibility features for porting.

        So things like, for example… LibreOffice… should be mostly just a matter of rebuilding from source.

        Besides it hasn’t been all that long since the Mac was mostly a PowerPC platform… (and M68K before that…) so Apple theoretically already knows how to do this.

        No doubt developers will come up with new versions of their software fit for the new era, particularly games, because the performance will be faster without going through “Rosetta” all the time.

        Be interesting to see how comprehensive the “Rosetta 2” layer will be.
        (There’s rumors that it’ll include an option to rebuild things into an Intel/ARM “fat binary” at install time? Wonder if that’ll be a true decompile/recompile and how good it’ll be at that…)

        • #2280919 Reply
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          mn-: “Although, I’m sort of hopeful… a lot of the open source stuff is already available for ARM, and MacOS is UNIX(r) so should have at a minimum all the source-compatibility features for porting.

          I know of two applications for porting to macOS open-source LINUX/UNIX software that my colleagues and I have used and work very well: “homebrew” and “macports.” For example, I have used “homebrew” to install in my Mac the GNU’s compiler library “gcc”. I always have used “homebrew” from the command line. LibreOffice has a macOS version, although that should be for current versions of macOS running on “Intel” Macs; I hope that, as mn- seems to think, the developers will find it easy to come up with a version for the new ARM RISC Macs.

          And, yes, Apple already used the PowerPC RISC CPU’s for a while, before changing to Intel CISC ones and that seems to have gone pretty well, or so I am told.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

          • #2280982 Reply
            mn–
            AskWoody Lounger

            LibreOffice has a macOS version, although that should be for current versions of macOS running on “Intel” Macs; I hope that, as mn- seems to think, the developers will find it easy to come up with a version for the new ARM RISC Macs.

            … LibreOffice already does run on Linux/ARM at least (Raspberry Pi for sure, haven’t managed to see a PineBook with my own eyes) and I believe also BSD/ARM (at least a http://cdn.netbsd.org/pub/pkgsrc/packages/NetBSD/aarch64/9.0/All/libreoffice-6.4.4.2nb1.tgz does exist).

            Also a number of other RISC platforms like POWER ans MIPS… and OpenOffice at least used to run on Solaris/SPARC a lot.

            I mean, UNIX(r) certification already means there should be a certain… fairly high… source-level compatibility. So unless Apple would be dropping that certification…

            1 user thanked author for this post.
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