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leob
leob

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Apple ARM announcement and what it means

So, Apple recently announced that their Macs will be transitioning from Intel based CPUs to ARM chips:

https://www.inputmag.com/tech/apple-arm-chip-cpu-hardware-details

I didn't see this one coming and it came to me as a pretty big shock!

What to make out of this?

Macs are quite popular among devs as workstations - will it stay that way, will this change put people off and have them looking for alternatives, or doesn't it really matter?

Is there a risk that this might lead to fragmentation - making things harder in terms of supporting, maintaining and installing open source or third party software/packages? (in terms of having to support more CPU architectures)

Or will other platforms (PCs, Windows, Linux) simply follow suit and also jump ship to embrace ARM? (so that this just becomes the new norm)

Is the move from Intel to ARM even a thing server-side (I have no idea if a move to ARM would even make any sense in the cloud or the data center, I'm pretty clueless TBH).

Curious about your thoughts!

Discussion (9)

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR • Edited on

ARM is a RISC architecture which is more efficient to deal with specific tasks at lower power consumption, it is useful on supercomputers, data centers and so where the electric cost is very very high and the tasks can be accomplished easily with a RISC. Less power consumption also means less heat to cool, so also less electric cost on air conditioners.

Also we all have used a RISC CPU since some years ago on our smartphones, smart TVs and so. The truth is that apple's move is nothing new and the impact on software should be a new API to code over it, or even a translation layer, having few impact for devs. What will look like on the real world... I don't know and I don't care at all... I'm on web development and I don't need nor want a Mac πŸ˜‚

I had one (MacBook Pro 2017 touchbar) and it was so poor on performance for the price (2006€) that I sold it 7 months ago, picked a Huawei Matebook D14 (650€) and never looked back.

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leob profile image
leob Author • Edited on

Yeah I think you're right, I agree that the real world impact probably won't be that dramatic. Most of us are coding in high level languages (JS, PHP and so on) anyway, so basically you're completely insulated from whatever bare metal it's running on.

Regarding Macs (or any Apple product for that matter), yes you're right that they're ridiculously expensive.

I'll just use my Mac as long as it's alive and functioning, but when I need to replace it I'm 99% sure that it will be just any laptop or PC preferably with Linux.

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

well I do tasks related to media like video rendering at home sometimes cuz I like it. I can ensure a 2000+€ macbook pro performs worse than a 600-650€ huawei and being able to use Linux on it is a plus/must (i'm playing with windows + WSL2 those days, I'll need to clean install windows on my desktop for getting it on all my computers).

By the other hand, people that work on OS applications don't really need to throw instructions to the CPU or similar, allocate memory as max when using C or C++, but you'll use some like .Net or mac equivalent for it, which provides an API to deal with the things brainless.

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ctrlshiftbryan profile image
ctrlshiftbryan

Yeah I don’t really see devs being able to move off Intel. Maybe like 5 years after they release but to me it seems like Apple only cares about the consumer customers and not so much about developers. It’s been obvious for the last couple Mac book pro release too

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

The only reasons to pick a mac as developer are either you build iOS or MacOS Apps.

For the rest you can go better with Linux or Windows + WSL2.

Apart from that, AMD is a good option to use as CPU on your laptop/desktop

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leob profile image
leob Author • Edited on

I agree that they probably don't care, which seems a bit dumb because devs are arguably their most loyal customers (look at the average dev conference and it's all Mac, Mac, Mac what you see).

But yeah Apple likely doesn't care, and then devs at some point will also stop caring and will look for alternatives.

Not completely sure though if ARM would be a deal-breaker by itself - as long as the tools/software we need would work on ARM then in principle it would be okay, right? It all depends on the amount of support.

But it doesn't seem to make things easier or more attractive, UNLESS these new ARM based machines would perform vastly better, for the same price.

Oh and if you need to produce iOS or Mac software then obviously you wouldn't have a choice anyway, so business as usual. But what I really wonder is if we could start seeing the same kind of Intel to ARM move with other platforms as well - PC/Windows/Linux, and maybe even server?

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defman profile image
Sergey Kislyakov πŸ‡·πŸ‡Ί πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

UNLESS these new ARM-based machines would perform vastly better, for the same price.

That's the point. Moving to ARM should increase power efficiency and probably lower the price since they don't have to pay Intel for the licenses and stuff. It should, theoretically, make the iPad and MacBook closer together so you would be able to run MacOS programs on iPad and vice versa.

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kemx82 profile image
Kemal

Could it be a new marketing thing from Apple? Finding new markets especially in the B2B market in Europe..

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leob profile image
leob Author

They just want to get rid of their dependency on Intel, they want to use their own ARM chips which they manufacture in-house ... and maybe it's cheaper, maybe it's more flexible, maybe it's simpler because their iOS devices also use ARM.