Jean-Louis Gasée en Monday Note: Macintel: The End is Nigh

In the first place, Apple’s drive to own “all layers of the stack” continues unabated years after Steve’s passing. As a recent example, Apple created its own Swift programming language that complements its Xcode IDE and Clang/LLVM compiler infrastructure. (For kremlinology’s sake I’ll point out that there is an official Apple Swift blog, a first in Apple 2.0 history if you exclude the Hot News section of the of site. Imagine what would happen if there was an App Store blog… But I digress.)

Secondly, the Mac line is suspended, literally, by the late delivery of Intel’sBroadwell x86 processors. (The delay stems from an ambitious move to a bleeding edge fabrication technology that shrinks the basic building block of a chip to 14nanometers, down from 22 nanometers in today’s Haswell chips.) Of course, Apple and its An semiconductor vendor could encounter similar problems – but the company would have more visibility, more control of its own destiny.

Furthermore, it looks like I misspoke when I said an An chip couldn’t power a high-end Mac. True, the A7 is optimized for mobile devices: Battery-optimization, small memory footprint, smaller screen graphics than an iMac or a MacBook Pro with a Retina display. But having shown its muscle in designing a processor for the tight constraints of mobile devices, why would we think that the team that created the most advanced smartphone/tablet processor couldn’t now design a 3GHz A10 machine optimized for “desktop-class” (a term used by Apple’s Phil Schiller when introducing the A7) applications?

If we follow this line of reasoning, the advantages of ARM-based processors vs. x86 devices become even more compelling: lower cost, better power dissipation, natural integration with the rest of the machine. For years, Intel has argued that its superior semiconductor design and manufacturing technology would eventually overcome the complexity downsides of the x86 architecture. But that “eventually” is getting a bit stale. Other than a few showcase design wins that have never amounted to much in the real world, x86 devices continue to lose to ARM-derived SoC (System On a Chip) designs.

Y vía Mac Daily News… en Extreme Tech la opinión contraria: Why Apple won’t Dump intel x86 for its own ARM chips in MacBooks and Mac Pro.

Much of the discussion around Apple’s long-term plans revolves around the idea that its A-series SoCs have proven themselves sufficiently advanced to make the leap wholesale from iPhone to MacBook to Mac Pro — but this ignores the way that Apple historically operates. It didn’t split the OS X family between two architectures previously and if it makes such a shift again, it’ll do so across the entire product family. This is where we hit the sticking point — regardless of whether Apple can design a chip to replace Intel at every SKU, it hasn’t done so yet.

Before Apple can build SoCs that take on the top of Intel’s product stack, it’s got to ramp up support for multi-core products, drivers, on-die I/O, PCI Express, and a host of other features to ensure that its product family can scale from the iPhone all the way to the Mac Pro. The question of whether or not Apple is capable of making that transition is different from whether or not it can do so quickly (or if it makes sense to do so in the first place).

The one reason why Apple might seriously build its own ARM core for high-end computing is that such an approach would give it more control over its product family, its roadmap, and its future — and JLG isn’t wrong that yes, historically, Apple strongly prefers that control.
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