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Re: Apple to ditch Intel?

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Joe Marler
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 4, 2018 at 11:04:17 am

[Craig Seeman] "Wouldn't it be more useful to keep the iOS interface, making it a real artist's tool (again I'm thinking of a Wacom tablet type computer) rather then the same "old" Macbook computer interaction with just an Apple designed chip?

Apple is probably tired of the limitations on Mac development imposed by Intel. E.g, Xeon still doesn't have Quick Sync, laptop CPUs burn a lot of power per unit of performance, aren't always available to meet Apple's schedule, etc.

However --- there is a lot more involved here than potentially switching Macs to an Apple-designed CPU.

The iOS and Mac UIs PLUS the development framework PLUS the app hosting must all be considered in a plan to move forward.

The Mac CPU change (if it happens) is just one element of this. In theory it could lay the groundwork for running iOS apps on Mac, or a future common development framework for both iOS and Mac apps.

Previous attempts to scale a single UI from phones to desktops didn't work well, e.g, Microsoft's Metro. In theory a more complex "Universal App" approach might work better, but that's yet to be demonstrated in a complex app.

In unified UIs, desktops tend to lose function. Google has tried multiple times to force fit their "Material Design" standards (optimized for mobile) on the Chrome browser for desktop users. It results in things like the Bookmark Manager being dumbed down, large fonts, large line spacing, loss of resize ability in certain dialogs, etc.

Going the other direction, nobody has yet demonstrated how a touch-oriented tablet UI could host a complex professional app like Photoshop, FCPX, etc. The current desktop menu/windowed design paradigm contains hundreds/thousands of UI elements which have no corresponding mobile UI equivalent. E.g, when Adobe ports Premiere to macOS, those are both based on a menu/windows paradigm. It's unclear if that kind of app could ever be ported with full functionality to a current mobile OS.

So several things are needed: a future evolved version of iOS which can host more complex apps (inc'l new UI paradigms), macOS which can support iOS apps, and development frameworks which allow a convergence of mobile and desktop software development. Whether this will be the rumored "Marzipan" or something beyond this, I don't know:

From the standpoint of code generation, we tend to view the upcoming CPU change (if it happens) like past ones, e.g, the 68k-to-PowerPC or PowerPC-to-x86 transitions. In those cases the software development and deployment framework was based on a statically compiled and linked binary executable which was specific to a processor instruction architecture.

If the Mac ARM transition happens, it's unclear it will happen the same way. If Apple moves toward a managed code model using Just-In-Time or install-time code generation (similar to Microsoft's .NET common language runtime), it would somewhat decouple them from binary dependence on a processor instruction set. OTOH if those methods eat the performance gains offered by profiler-guided static compilation, going to ARM may not help so much.

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