2 years ago 🥁 for day 114, 2020 with 533 words.

Risky Arming

Days sheltering in place: 38
Spare rolls of toilet paper left: One (the rationing continues)

Event that isn't happening today: Karen getting her hair cut, seeing her Mum, kids, and enjoying Cardiff.

The subject of Apple switching processors has come up again as it does every year since 2011 or so, and everyone seems is mixed about it. Which got me thinking.

There are ARM chips and then there are Apple ARM chips. During a talk I attended in 2018 with Sophie Wilson, - one of the original designers of the ARM chips - she pointed out that companies that use ARM chips have a license to use the reference design where-as Apple (and I was given the impression, only Apple) have a license to design their own chips - and keep the designs to themselves. Consequently, the A-Series are in a league of their own - especially when it comes to multiple different cores in the same chip depending on whether you need low-power or high-performance.

For those of us that have been here long enough Apple have successfully done this before, twice. The original Macs ran on 68x00 chips. Then they moved to PowerPC Chips - RISC based. Then they moved to Intel. Now it is predicted that they will move to ARM (RISC again). They have even switched from big-endian to little-endian memory addressing and pulled it off just fine. The fact that Catalina doesn’t support 32-bit apps is a method of getting developers ready for the ARM world. We’ll have “FAT Apps” again for a while - which given the “package architecture” of Mac Apps is a no-brained anyway. Yes, emulation will be an issue but from past experience of the last two Apple Emulators (68K on PowerPC and PowerPC on Intel) they ran fine. Any intensive app - think Photoshop - will be available day-one for the new processor.

During the 68K -> PowerPC transition I had one of the new machines seeded to me from Apple for a good 6-9 months before it was released. If they announce this at WWDC then some well-known players (think Adobe, Microsoft etc) will have had some hardware for months already. I would expect announced at WWDC this year, the next OS release will not have support and no new hardware, but seeded hardware to developers with alpha OS, beta by WWDC 2021 with hardware release in the fall with the new machines. New machine may only be a low-end MacBook (non-Pro) as a starting point or Apple may surprise us all with a new MacBook Pro.

It is quite possible that certain developers will be seeded this year with a general announcement at WWDC next year when hopefully they can do it in person. Having actual hardware at the conference that you can test your apps on with the Apple Engineers there to advise you is a big win and way to get existing apps transitioned. Without access to the compatibility labs at the conference this year I suspect Apple may punt the whole idea 12 months.

I'm not holding my breath on this one. We'll get ARM based mac's one day, one year, this century.

User Photo

By Yorick Phoenix 🥁

Chief WriteTogether Bug Finder & character stringer. Generally, to create computer code, but sometimes actual words and paragraphs. Listens to lots of music, takes lots of photos, & invests in stocks for the long haul.

Get Yorick Phoenix's newsletter

Almost there! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm.

Subscribe to Yorick Phoenix's latest writing to get it right in your inbox.