We don’t normally publish news posts about Apple sending out RSVPs for product launch events, but this one should be especially interesting.

This morning Apple has sent notice that they’re holding an event next Tuesday dubbed “One more thing.” In traditional Apple fashion, the announcement doesn’t contain any detailed information about the content expected; but as Apple has already announced their updated iPads and iPhones, the only thing left on Apple’s list for the year is Macs. Specifically, their forthcoming Arm-powered Macs.

As previously announced by Apple back at their summer WWDC event, the company is transitioning its Mac lineup from x86 CPUs to Arm CPUs. With a two-year transition plan in mind, Apple is planning to start the Arm Mac transition this year, and wrapping things up in 2022.

For the new Arm Macs, Apple will of course be using their own in-house designed Arm processors, the A-series. As we’ve seen time and time again from the company, Apple’s CPU design team is on the cutting-edge of Arm CPU cores, producing the fastest Arm CPU cores for several years running now, and more recently even overtaking Intel’s x86 chips in real-world Instruction Per Clock (IPC) rates. Suffice it to say, Apple believes they can do better than Intel by designing their own CPUs, and especially with the benefits of vertical integration and total platform control, they might be right.

Apple has been shipping early Arm Macs to developers since the summer, using modified Mac Minis containing their A12Z silicon. We’re obviously expecting something newer, but whether it’s a variant of Apple’s A14 SoC, or perhaps something newer and more bespoke specifically for their Macs, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, because this is a phased transition, Apple will be selling Intel Macs – including new models – alongside the planned Arm Macs. So although Apple will no doubt focus on their new Arm Macs, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see some new Intel Macs announced alongside them. Apple will be supporting Intel Macs for years to come, and in the meantime they need to avoid Osborning their x86 systems.

As always, we’ll have a live blog of the events next Tuesday, along with a breakdown of Apple’s announcements afterwards. So please be sure to drop in and check that out.

Source: Apple

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  • michael2k - Monday, November 2, 2020 - link

    Why would the CPU architecture have any bearing on the OS architecture?

    The example you bring up, Windows on ARM, was not a dumbing down of the OS, but restricting the OS because the Microsoft was trying to grow into the tablet market.

    In other words, hardware limits placed constraints on what Microsoft could do, and in their case that mean designing their OS to use touch and thin and lite form factors.

    Apple's hardware has no such limits, and has been, for several years now, the cream of the crop. They have the fastest ARM hardware, and as such they also have hardware faster than most recent AMD CPUs and incredibly close to Intel CPUs.
  • FunBunny2 - Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - link

    "Why would the CPU architecture have any bearing on the OS architecture?"

    an OS can, in practical terms, restrict what the OS can practically do. not so much these days in the bread and butter functions, but, for instance, an ISA/CPU that lacks a hardware multiplier is at a disadvantage when it comes to the OS and compiler writers getting a decent OS and languages. for years Intel (and most everybody else) dissed RISC machines as too verbose to assembler coders and too bloated in object modules. then, of course, Intel and everybody else ditched ISA in hardware and went with micro-architecture (real ISA) on the hardware, which just happens to be die hard RISC. to the extent that current ARM ISA (been a while since I looked) is more RISCy than CISCy,

    an OS that attempts to explicitly parallelize single-threaded code on the fly for a multi-core chip (it's been tried, but hasn't worked, again, last time I checked) makes no sense for cores < X, for some value of X.

    one could go on.
  • FreckledTrout - Monday, November 2, 2020 - link

    That is because ARM was used on phones. It wont change Mac's like that. Its just another CPU expect nothing to change in the OS well not because its ARM or x86. They will simply compile and optimize for ARM.
  • The Hardcard - Monday, November 2, 2020 - link

    In other words, you don’t understand. Windows on ARM is not a smartphone OS at all. Even iPad OS has a host of above smartphone OS features.
  • CharonPDX - Monday, November 2, 2020 - link

    There's nothing inherent to ARM that requires it. For Windows, it was just a decision by Microsoft. The early Windows-on-ARM devices were quite slow, so Microsoft didn't want to have hugely hobbled x86 emulation giving people a bad taste, so they insisted that it could only run Metro apps compiled for ARM.

    The more recent Surface Pro X can run (nearly) all x86 (32-bit) Windows software in emulation just fine, it's no longer hobbled. It runs "real" Windows 10, not Windows RT. The only real limitation is graphics-based - the Surface Pro X can't run x86 GPU-intensive games that use OpenGL. And 64-bit support is coming soon.
  • flyingpants265 - Wednesday, November 4, 2020 - link

    That's cool, but I still don't really see the point in a Windows laptop that's too slow to run anything. It would be like an Atom laptop, essentially. It makes perfect sense for an iPad replacement, but I never understood the iPad thing either.

    I understand phone, PC, and laptop. Tablets are like the worst of all worlds.
  • huangcjz - Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - link

    At Apple's Developer Conference when they announced the transition in the summer, they showed their next version of macOS running on ARM, and it was just a new version of macOS as anyone would normally expect it to be, with no missing features. In fact, they way they did it was to present the whole demo of the new OS normally, as if there were no architecture change, and then, after running through all the new user-facing features, then reveal: "Oh, by the way, everything you've been seeing so far today? It's been running on ARM, not on Intel".
  • trivik12 - Monday, November 2, 2020 - link

    Cant wait to see Mac with Apple silicon. I wonder how many cores we will see and if it will still use big.little architecture. I am hoping for at least 8 cores at 3 ghz clockspeed. With Apple single threaded performance, it will be great. Other big thing is Mini Led screen but I am skeptical we will see that this year. Probably sometime around 2022 you will see Mac with Mini Led screen.
  • tipoo - Monday, November 2, 2020 - link

    The phones can already hit 3Ghz, even if it becomes bound by a short pipeline for much clocks, I should think it would at least be able to do several hundred Mhz higher. 3.5? 3.7? With A14 already being at the top of the single core performance charts, that would fly
  • brucethemoose - Monday, November 2, 2020 - link

    Think Ian will get his external-cache wish?

    Apple has already teased "advanced packaging" and "high bandwidth" cache. At the very least, we'll get system wide cache like the iOS devices already have, but moving it off chip would be even more interesting.

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