Could ARM-based processors eclipse those based on Intel’s microarchitecture in the near future? When it comes to the software we use in every day life, that gap is closing quickly. That has at least one manufacturer thinking that it could use ARM-based processors across all of its devices. According to MacBidouille, not only is Apple considering such a move but it is also well along that path as well. A “reliable source” has told the French site that Apple is looking at making a full product range transition to ARM-based processors. It already has a number of prototypes running an ARM-based flavour of Mac OS X.
Among the prototypes are 13-inch notebooks and iMacs running both either four or eight quad-core ARM processors as well as a Mac mini running four quad-core processors. All of these come with a new keyboard with an integrated large format Magic Trackpad. Development is far enough advanced that these devices are either ready or close to being ready for an announcement should Apple decide to move in this direction.
Apple has proven that there is significant performance waiting to be unleashed in ARM-based processors. Apple’s A7 processor has been described as being of “desktop class” and even under utilized in the iPhone 5S. Even less powerful processors have turned our smartphones and tablets in devices that rival traditional computers in many ways.
If legitimate, Apple may be holding back not because of any technology limitations but because a shift from an Intel-based architecture to an ARM-based one is not a trivial undertaking. Software written for one would not work for the other and Apple likely wants to ensure that a transition is as painless for customers as possible. On the flip side, offering a single architecture across its entire device range could make it easier for developers to ensure that their apps work across the entire Apple ecosystem.
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