Apple and Intel Are Breaking Up

Apple and Intel Are Breaking Up


Close your eyes and picture something with
me for a second. Come on… close em. It’s September 1999. The air is brisk with dog days nearing their
end as I’m driven by my mum to my new elementary school to continue my second month of first
grade. I enter the new, staggeringly spotless computer
lab at my school and my eyes glisten with excitement upon seeing an entirely fictitious
Power Mac G4 because this entire story is made up. I press power, hear the famous Macintosh boot
chime, and realize this computer is going to change everything. There’s a lot of hubbub about Apple ditching
Intel and the x86 platform in favor ARM (which is the instruction set Apple has been using
on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and AppleTV since inception (okay, so the first AppleTV
wasn’t ARM but we don’t talk about that (or should we talk about that? I still have mine from 2007—lemme know in
the comments below if you want to see a video on that)). With this rumored transition to ARM on Mac,
Apple would presumably develop custom-designed processors just like the iPhone’s A-series
chips, but specific to the Mac. I think a lot of people believe Apple’s
innovation has flattened out or that they’re not trying anymore. People said this very same thing in the late
90s but Apple proved them crazy wrong by developing the fastest home computer on the planet that
absolutely crushed any Windows Intel machine from the era. Back in 1991-1993, Apple’s chip architecture—which
had been in use since the original 1984 Macintosh—was aging rapidly. Their Macintosh lineup was still wicked fast
and running on the 68k family of microprocessors, but they were becoming bulkier, hotter, and
more expensive than ever before. Apple was trying to squeeze as much processing
power out of the old technology as possible and it showed. Wintel computers (that’s a Windows-Intel
computer btw) were less expensive, far more efficient, and were catching up in the speed
department. Apple CEO John Sculley had commissioned an
internal project called “jaguar” to develop a new four-core RISC-based CPU designed to
succeed the Motorola 68K chips. But this would mean no backwards compatibility
for old software and without the market share to force people into the new machine, they’d
have created a platform that died before it was born. And in the 80s, Steve Jobs had already made
this error with Lisa an insanely powerful computer that was made useless due to the
lack of software. Luckily, a veteran engineer at Apple, Jack
McHenry, saw the new, incompatible computer was doomed to fail and started the “cognac”
team. Long story short (and it really is a very
cool story), McHenry’s team developed a RISC-based machine that was able to run old
Macintosh 68K software with essentially full compatibility thanks to an incredible hypervisor
emulator (it was one of the first computers ever to do this well by the way) and the PowerPC
was born. For over 10 years, Apple was making hardware
with an extensive software library that absolutely obliterated any Wintel machine in its path. In fact, that 1999 G4 I mentioned at the beginning
of the video was the first personal computer with a gigaflop of performance and it made
such a mockery of Intel’s Pentium III system in terms of the operation—at over 2x the
speed in many workloads—that it was actually less expensive to own and operate over time
than even the best Intel PCs. The PowerPC architecture, like the 68K platform
before it eventually met its demise and Apple, well… [insert Jobs clip] Intel
CPUs were more efficient per watt, ran far cooler than PowerPC, and showed far more forward
facing potential. And it was a good move for numerous reasons. Sharing an x86 platform between Windows and
Mac made apps more easy to port between systems, allowed the Mac to run Windows natively through
Boot Camp, permitted the Mac to integrate into the business and enterprise market for
the first time ever, allowed for increased system stability, and more. But it also came with some huge drawbacks:
Apple’s hardware advantage that existed with PowerPC was gone. Apple was a systems builder and moving to
off-the-shelf parts limited Apple’s design capabilities; it required that all performance
benefits be made in software optimization since the hardware was the same as everything
else on the market, the hackintosh market flourished with reverse-engineered and custom
EFI kernels, and Apple became beholden to Intel’s update cycle. So ARM—why would Apple care to move to it? And why should you care? 1. Apple can continue its quest of vertical integration
and supply chain control. Apple won’t be waiting on Intel to release
new products and we won’t be waiting on Apple to integrate those new Intel products. . It allows Apple to have a unique market
offering. Nobody else (at least, not for a while) will
be making flagship ARM computers. Microsoft has attempted albeit unsuccessfully
in part because they require backwards compatibility and enterprise support (both of which Apple
has a history of disregarding). . Unit cost decreases. Intel is a ripoff because they own an essential
monopoly and while AMD is giving them a run for their money, they’re still the defacto
supplier of enterprise hardware and the prices reflect that. The tray price of the dinky little 8-core
Xeon in the new Mac Pro is $749. That’s insane. In theory, Apple could reduce the price of
their machines and become cost-competitive with low-margin PC manufacturers but with
better hardware. Would modern Apple do that? I hope so, but they almost might maintain
pricing and just increase their margins. . The hardware may truly be better. If Apple’s current silicon is anything to
go off of, they’ve demonstrated extreme proficiency in chip design and they continue
hiring some of the best SoC engineers in the world. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Now, don’t expect a complete transition
to happen on day one. Steve Jobs said in the 2005 Macworld keynote
that moving from PowerPC to Intel would take a few years and Apple actually got it done
faster than expected, but I’d expect the same for ARM Macs. This new Catalyst project, which ports iOS
apps to x86 Macs is a great way for Apple to test emulation and app compiling and allows
developers to get comfortable with the Swift coding language. It also allows customers that own existing
x86 processors to run most of the software that will be available on ARM Macs for a smooth
transition over to different platforms. . It will pretty much kill-off hackintosh
computers even though Apple probably doesn’t care about as much as people think they do. . In theory, it will allow for much better
battery life as the RISC-based system will be more efficient and generate less heat. Maybe we can finally say goodbye to thermal
throttling on Apple comptuers. . There are potentially massive security benefits. . There could be multi-platform app purchasing
since the OSes will share similar code bases. So you buy an app on your iPhone and it works
on the iPad and Mac as well. And if all the platforms are easy to develop
for, the number of quality Mac apps should skyrocket. I could go on. And that’s not to say that this thing doesn’t
have potential downsides. There definitely are. It’s a huge gamble for Apple with exponential
increases in R&D with no guarantee for return and at the end of the day, Apple is liable
to its shareholders. They’ll have to maintain a competitive edge
on x86 and Windows ARM machines and continue innovating for years to come—they can’t
rely on Intel to do the work for them. Apple also may erroneously seek power over
compatibility and if the Catalyst transition isn’t a smooth one, things might be buggy
for a number of years, etc. But I think this future is brighter than it
is dull. I hope that Apple can ditch the often-accurate
stigma that they’ve become anti-consumer, overpriced, and incapable of innovating. There are people out there that don’t even
know Apple used to make the fastest computers in the world. And as a life-long Mac user, I’m hoping
Apple will finally live-up to Phil Schiller’s famously smug and unfulfilled words.

Author:

100 thoughts on “Apple and Intel Are Breaking Up”

  • This is a great video explaining what is happening with Apple and Intel. Can’t wait to see your review when the Mac launches with ARM processors.

  • I am building new rig and it is hackintosh. It is too bad that Apple will be making people to use macOS. I like the neatness of macOS but I have no problem working with windows. But hey I just spend over $2400 to build a new rig to edit videos. I really hope it's worth it for hackintosh.

  • I have worked with x86 and x86-64/AMD64 emulation on ARM on a Linux system. Qemu has been great at doing it so if apple focuses on it and has good optimization techniques then it can almost be a flawless easy transition if ARM can run on x86 based Macs and x86 can run on ARM Macs

  • Stop with the click-bait. Apple just built an enterprise class workstation priced between $6k-$40k. Apple also re-developed the OS to use ARM and Intel cpus. They aren’t going to trash the code that they spent millions developing. It’s more likely Apple will integrate AMD cpus to rum alongside ARM processors.

  • Great vid .. Still reluctant to buy a new macbook pro .. Waiting for september as well as end of 2019 to see what gives .. Especially curious what the keyboard story will be .. Let alone the chance for ARM internals … Good luck .. love!

  • CaptainStarkiller says:

    Yikes, even more restrictive hardware/software? That's totally something the Apple of today would consider doing, they only seem to care about profit over everything. That's why we see so little change year over year since they want to spend as little as possible on R&D. What makes you think they won't just do the same thing with their custom ARM chips?

  • It'll be a huge issue for anyone doing serious production work if intel options are completely removed.. Do you have any idea what the move from power PC to intel did to us in the first place? Years of incompatibility and waiting for software updates.

  • I code in Apple Swift and it’s great being able to port iPhone apps to iPad with only slight changes. Since I like ARM architecture better than intel (because pretty much every CPU that isn’t intel is ARM based), this is going to make coding even more versatile.

  • Cristiano Mozzillo says:

    do you think it is wrong to buy a 27 inch 5k now? Is there the possibility that Apple will change architecture so quickly? and then the people who will buy the Mac Pro? or the imac pro? we are talking about computers that cost as much as a car.

  • I wonder what this would mean for the recently announced Mac Pro lol;

    Also, in terms of killing off hackintosh, who’s to say there won’t be third party ARM/apple clones? Even if that didn’t happen, some professional hackintosh users are fine to freeze their systems in time (I’m looking at you avid users). I’m pretty sure Calvin Harris is still using logic 9. Heck, I once knew a guy who was still running the 2005 version of protools on a g3/4 iMac and didn’t even connect his system to the internet.

    The other great thing about hackintosh is, if apple does make it impossible, you can instantly switch the system to PC or Linux, only losing the use of apple apps.

  • Cornelius Robinson says:

    I'm really excited about the shift to the RISC instruction set architecture. That being said, I think we're going to see a boom in new/custom computer architectures.

  • My theory is that they are trying to pull off 2 things, and shove things down people's throats that we don't want. 1. Get rid of the physical keyboard. That's what the touch bar and this shitty super thin keyboard is all about. They want to make the MacBook into a folding iPad with a cheaper screen keyboard (think touch bar expanded into a full keyboard). They are training you to accept by continously making the keyboards thinner.

    And 2. They want to jail up the OS and make owning a Mac more like an iPad and iPhone. Take over user control of where you store your files and interact with your system, and create a jailed up infrastructure where you can't install anything on your machine that Apple doesn't want you to have (without having to jail break it).

    I'm out when that shit goes down. That is if I'm correct.

    Nobody wants those 2 things but that's what Apple wants.

  • AMD lit a fire under Intel's ass, but both of them are underestimating ARM SoCs. Modern ARM SoCs are actually more efficient than x86 CPUs. I'm not even talking about what Apple sees. It's just in general. Look at how powerful smartphones are becoming. The Note 10+ has a feature called Dex, which allows it to be used as a desktop PC. That says it all.

  • The PowerPC architecture isn't dead. IBM still makes new chips and develops new generations of the architecture. The problem is that IBM's marketing is so bad compared to Intel that very little people actually us PowerPC based machines. Their clients are mostly people who require a very secure workstation, as malware targeting the platform is virtually nonexistent. Even the HPC (high performance computing) crowd have mostly switched to x86, because that's what most people learn to code on and is the prevalent workstation platform (yes, ARM is technically the overall predominant platform thanks to smartphones, but no one uses a smartphone when they need to get things done, even all the software for smartphones is created on PCs).

    Also, the new Mac Pro is NOT going to win any performance crown, given that Apple have chosen to go with Xeon processors who are getting left in the dust by the new generation Epyc chips and the upcoming Threadripper 3000 series. As such it is ridiculously overpriced for what it features. The case and cooling solution on the other hand look pretty well designed.

  • Apple is addicted to overpriced products. As the volumes fall they abandon them and offer fewer products to serve a general market. Sooner or later this model will backfire on one of their “bet the company” gambled and the company will fall. When that happens the major asset up for sale will be the Intel compatible OS. Maybe then someone will pick it up and license it to the world…really changing the world.

  • 87 year old performer puked all over his 50000$ shoes and collapsed on the stage floor in convulsions but fans stubbornly keep cheering honestly believing that it's just a part of the performance.

  • Jeremy Cummings says:

    Don't forget when Bill Gates saved Apple; check the names on the first build of osx, it's mostly employees of Windows, at the time.

  • 5:53 "Look: Nobody else (at least not for a while) will be making flagship ARM computers."

    And less than two months later, Microsoft announces their new flagship ARM computer is coming this year…

  • Matthew Meek-smith says:

    Apple could always hit up its old buddies at ibm the PowerPC architecture has surpassed intels cores or go to amd to ensure full comparability while providing full comparability especially when amd seems willing to allow companies to design custom silicon but that’s just me looking at options besides arm

  • Wolf In Sheep's Clothing says:

    Sooo that's why Johnny Ive left Apple. With the ARM chips we will be able to make our own macbooks and iphones….LMAO. That's why their lead designer left, there will no longer be any need for him in the near future. Just wait until the Chinese find this out.

  • Devious Verendus says:

    Apple is overall disgusting, removing regular features of phones just so they can sell them back to you as an increased price it's just shity

  • You'll be happy to know that I went back to play it again so I could listen this time instead of read the text. Problem is I then pressed play and started typing this message so I missed it again…

  • Benjamin van Houts says:

    Ummm I have a very different memory of early 2000 power pc Mac computers. If they where faster then PC, then they where held back by classic Mac os system 9. Not to mention the total lack of games.

  • You failed to give credit for development of the PowerPC to IBM and Motorola who jointly developed it with Apple. In fact, the PowerPC chip was essentially an update of IBM's POWER chipset used in their RS6000 series.

  • Spagbowls & parma cheese says:

    This type of transition could only be done by a strong leader like Jobs… Cook is an SJW yes man who no one cares when he talks..

  • The sad thing is, ARM processors are going to be obsolete soon. RISC 5 is going to be the new processor replacing x86. ARM's business model will fail in favor of open source. It will be interesting to see the future of computing not just apple.

  • Do you remember the Archimedes computer – which built the ARM chip – the Acorn Risc Machine as it was known then ? Acorn even teamed up with Apple – Exemplar – that didn't work. Microsoft was worried by the Acorn machines entering the US Education market – and killed it somehow… Acorn dies, ARM lives on. Yeh ! It's back ! Could you do this story justice ?

  • Andres Felipe Borrero says:

    Well… Microsoft not so on the low end now… Surface Pro X for the win… and just wait till Windows ARM starts to kick in. The industry would likely follow.

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