Why Apple Will Switch to the ARM Processor Architecture This Year

This analysis is provided by Brian Andrews, a writer for HirePulse, a great site for service providers, consultants and mining contractors




In 2005 Apple made the bold decision to abandon the PowerPC architecture and switch to Intel CPU technology. Namely the 8086 CISC based architecture that exists in nearly every PC today.

There is, however, a solid case for Apple to switch back to a simpler CPU architecture that did not exist before.

Microsoft Window 8 Supports ARM Processors

While it may not seem to be a good reason to think switching to a hardware system with more competing operating systems is a good thing, it is actually very important as a value add for their hardware. Despite PowerPC probably being a superior architecture to Intel’s CISC designs, Apple made the switch back in 2005 and one of the reasons would have been because it afforded their customers more choice with how to use their computer. This improves the perceived value of the system.

It is often stated by the hard core geek crowd that locking down a PC to a single operating system makes it useless as a general computing tool. Therefore, the fact Windows 8 is going to run on an ARM architecture, means that Apple’s OS will likely follow Windows 8 to that space.

Massive Power Benefits of ARM

ARM chips generally use significantly less power than Intel based chips. This is already massive in the tablet PC market. The next obvious step is notebook computers. Clearly, Apple would be very interested in providing longer battery life for its MacBook Air and even the MacBook Pro. This is probably the biggest benefit that ARM has to offer, and while battery technology does not considerably improve, the power hungry CPUs of today constantly demand more. Intel has made steps to reduce the power use of their CPUs, but by design, ARM will generally win out.

Apple Already has the Know-How on Board for ARM

In April 2010, Apple acquired a chip making company by the name of Intrinsity. Intrinsity were behind the ARM chip designed for the iPad, the A4. Intrinisity have specialist knowledge of how to provide performance enhancements to ARM chips and will no doubt play a part in Apple’s hardware roadmap, including the possible inclusion of notebooks and PCs.

There is probably a ARM based MacBook being tossed around between Apple staff behind closed doors already. It’s an almost certain bet that Apple will release it later in 2012. There are well founded rumours to believe this is true.

The Wait Ensues

Like many, this writer is excited at this year’s likely MacBook being released by Apple. If they get it right, we might finally see a laptop that we can truly use all day unplugged from the power.

I’m sure many other Apple enthusiasts are highly excited about this upcoming technology shift.

  1. There is no way Apple will switch back to PowerPC for its macintosh computers after they already had developers rebuild applications to be intel native and then dropping Rosetta support from Mac OS X, only to say hey your going to have redo all your applications again and the re-include Rosetta support in later versions of OS X for those who have intel machines. Riddicus!

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