By Scott Hamilton
After 15-years of utilizing the Intel processors in their computers, Apple is making the decision to begin producing their own ARM processors for the coming release of the MacBook line. It was on June 6, 2005, that Steve Jobs made the risky move of stepping away from the PowerPC processors to using Intel processors. Many in the industry thought this shift would be the end of the company.
Since then Apple shifted its market towards cellular phone and portable technologies; as a result they began to develop low power ARM-based systems to power things like the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Earlier this year when the latest iPAD processor actually outperformed the Intel processor in the latest MacBook, the decision was made to move forward with an ARM based personal computer and laptop.
As he made the official announcement, Apple CEO Tim Cook called June 6, 2020, a “historic day for the Mac,” comparing it to the historic move from PowerPC to Intel fifteen years ago. The main difference is, this time many technology experts are claiming this is a move that will save Apple. The big advantage to this move is that you will now be able to have not only a single code base for iOS and macOS, but the two operating systems will be able to directly share applications natively. This means that you will no longer have to run an emulator on macOS in order to test and build applications for the iPhone and iPAD.
What this means for us and the end users of the product is that we can buy a single license for an application like Adobe Photoshop, and because the underlying central processing unit and OS layer will be the same, we can run it both on our iPAD and our MacBook.
The transition will not happen immediately as the demand for systems is greater than the production level of the ARM chips today. The transition will happen over a two-year period beginning with production at the end of this year, producing Intel-powered Macs alongside ARM-powered Macs. They will slowly stop manufacturing the Intel-Powered Macs over the course of two years.
Apple promises this new line will have higher performance, longer battery life and tighter integration between the hardware and software. This will result in a more stable work environment. The problem that arises from this kind of transition is the third-party software vendor support of the transition. Apple software developers are fully on board with the changes and will update their applications to support the new hardware.
Apple is taking the chance that their third-party software vendors will work to update their applications to support the new hardware. Apple engineers state that a vast majority of applications will only need a few days of work to get them running on the new platform. The good news is that Microsoft has already begun working on updates for their Office Suite on the new platform, with Word, Excel and PowerPoint already running on the prototype hardware. Apple was also able to demonstrate Adobe products like Lightroom and Photoshop running smoothly on the new Macs, creating smooth 5GB animations.
I have been tracking computer technology for about forty years, and for the first time in over a decade we have multiple processor vendors competing for our money. A majority of computers over the last decade have been running primarily Intel processors and it is nice to see a change in the market.
Stay safe and learn something new.