Archive for April 3, 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Apple Plans to Use Its Own Chips in Macs From 2020, Replacing Intel

Mark Gurman (tweet, Hacker News, MacRumors, 9to5Mac, iMore):

The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices -- including Macs, iPhones, and iPads -- work more similarly and seamlessly together, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The project, which executives have approved, will likely result in a multi-step transition.


The shift would also allow Cupertino, California-based Apple to more quickly bring new features to all of its products and stand out from the competition. Using its own main chips would make Apple the only major PC maker to use its own processors.


While the transition to Apple chips in hardware is planned to begin as early as 2020, the changes to the software side will begin even before that.


Apple’s current chip designs made their name in thin and light mobile devices. That would indicate Apple will start the transition with laptops before moving the designs into more demanding desktop models. Apple has to walk the fine line of moving away from Intel chips without sacrificing the speed and capabilities of its Macs.

John Gruber:

But when you start thinking about the details, this transition would (will?) be very difficult. First, while Apple’s existing A-series chips are better for energy-efficient mobile device use (iPhone, iPad, just-plain MacBook), Apple’s internal team has never made anything to compete with Intel at the high-performance end (MacBook Pros, and especially iMacs and Mac Pros). I’m not saying they can’t. I’m just saying they haven’t shown us anything yet.

Jeff Johnson:

The problem with phone CPU benchmark tests is that they’re only measuring peak performance. Try running a processor-intensive task on your phone for an hour.

Good luck with that.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Porting macOS, unchanged, stagnant, to ARM as-is would be a massive waste. What’s happening is decidedly not that: it’s very clear that a major transition is happening re the software stack, which is what I’ve argued for for a very long time. iOS and macOS are merging in some way

Steve Troughton-Smith:

It’s increasingly looking like the future of the Mac doesn’t look like the Mac as we know it, with a rumored app stack replacement/transplant & a move away from x86.


It’s not the Mac at all. It’s some hellish combination of the worst attributes of iOS and the worst attributes of Tim Cook’s Apple.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

People really want to believe their world isn’t about to end I think Apple has been singularly about ARM for the past decade and it would be very wishful thinking to hope they’d change that trajectory now

James Thomson:

If you took the current macOS and put it on a desktop class ARM processor, I think it would be a pretty simple transition compared to PPC->Intel. I doubt many would notice, and most apps would just compile out the box. I don’t think it’s the end of anything.

Walt Mossberg:

If this is true, it’s another step towards the next great Apple machine: a consumer laptop running iOS. Call it the MacPad, or revive the name iBook. Use the trackpad the way 3D Touch is used on iOS devices to easily move the cursor. (And build more tricks into it.) I’ll buy it.

Dave Mark:

If Apple builds an ARM-based Mac, what are the hassles involved in porting code from Intel->ARM, beyond recompile?

Rich Siegel:

Anyone who says “you just have to click a check box” or “it’s trivial” without actually having done the transition for a shipping product is engaging in wish fulfillment or marketing.

Erik Schwiebert:

What you said...

Jeff Johnson:

The last PPC Mac shipped in 2006. Rosetta was not removed from Mac OS X until 2011.

The last Intel Core Duo 32-bit Mac shipped in 2007. i386 support has still not been removed.

Jeff Johnson:

I have yet to hear a single person give a plausible transition plan.

Is there a Rosetta-like tech? IDK, but remember that the significant performance hit was semi-acceptable only because Intel chips were much faster than PPC. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I had a last-gen iMac G5 and a first-gen iMac Core Duo. Core Duo crushed the G5.

Paul Haddad:

WWDC could be really awkward.

“Here’s our brand new $5k+ Mac Pro”

“Next year we’re deprecating Intel”

Nick Wingfield:

Ok, reading this report about Apple contemplating dumping Intel chips for its own put me in a nostalgic mood. Here’s a little story about how Steve Jobs operated with the press.

Previously: Apple Rumored to Combine iPhone, iPad, and Mac Apps to Create One User Experience, Microsoft Launches Windows 10 on ARM.

Update (2018-04-03): Alberto Sendra:

I interpret it differently. If you need a high performance laptop/computer with macOS you need to buy one before 2020 No assurances that pro apps are gonna make the transition anytime soon.

Rui Carmo:

I don’t see why this should come as a surprise. The real question is what their developer experience is going to be like, and how accomodating it will turn out to be for those of us who use Macs as primary devices for cross-platform development.

Kirk McElhearn:

Those of us who write about Apple have long opined about the iOSification of macOS, and the ability to allow iPhone and iPad apps to run on the Mac will be a big deal. It might not work; or it might only work for very simple apps. But it will be a game-changer. I don’t expect Apple to fully iOSify the Mac platform, but allowing iOS apps to run on Macs in a special environment makes sense.

Update (2018-04-04): Marco Arment:

A bit concerned over the rumors of big changes to macOS.

Apple hasn’t prioritized macOS quality in years, and it seems that they can barely touch it these days without leaving a trail of sloppy bugs.

I’d love 2005-Apple to revamp macOS. I’m not sure I trust 2018-Apple to do it.


Less of a transition, more of a bug multiplier. Maintaining software quality while dramatically expanding the scope of said software is difficult to impossible, especially given the circumstances.

Andy Ihnatko:

I don’t think Apple would drop Intel completely. It’s easier for me to imagine them using custom CPUs for their consumer-grade Macs and sticking with Intel for the high-horsepower Pro desktops and notebooks. At least for starters.


ARM is such a huge move — and presents such a big opportunity for change — that I would expect it to accompany a whole new historical age for the Mac. Either Apple would do radical (and long-overdue) modern rethink, akin to what Microsoft did with Windows 10…or they would effectively transform MacOS into an enhanced version of iOS, in function if not in name.

Update (2018-04-06): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2018-04-22): See also: Andy Ihnatko.

Update (2018-09-05): Cherlynn Low (via John Gruber, tweet):

Lenovo is showing off the industry’s first device to use the made-for-PCs mobile chipset: the Yoga C630 WOS (which stands for Windows on Snapdragon).


The Yoga C630 is supposed to last about 25 hours of continuous local video playback, which should be enough to last through an entire day of running around attending business meetings. That endurance is thanks in large part to the Snapdragon 850, which promises not only 25 percent longer battery life than the 835 but also 30 percent faster performance. When I opened a slew of apps like Excel, PowerPoint, Maps and Edge on the Yoga C630’s desktop environment, I barely encountered any delay. Any interruptions I saw were related to WiFi troubles rather than actual performance.

Previously: ARM Mac Notebook Rumors.

The TidBITS 2018 Infrastructure

Adam C. Engst:

After years of planning and months of work with our developer, Eli Van Zoeren, we’ve finally pulled back the curtains on our new Internet infrastructure. If you’re reading this in email, head over to the TidBITS Web site to take a look and click around — all 28 years of TidBITS articles and comments are there.


Our new system relies on the Paid Memberships Pro plug-in for WordPress and uses Stripe for the actual payment processing.


Designed by the talented Geoff Allen of the Denver-based design house FUNISOK, the logotype starts with Avant Garde, but Geoff tweaked every letter so, for instance, the first T’s horizontal bar slides into the i’s stylized dot, which is meant to evoke the leaf in the Apple logo. Each letter has both sharp and rounded edges so they flow well together. And we’re using a deep, rich purple to separate the BITS from the Tid, tying the two together with color in the leaf as well. You may also notice the new square favicon, which connects the black T and the purple B.


First off, all our ads are hosted and served locally, which means that there are no trackers associated with them [even the social media buttons]. We’re offended at all the ad tracking on the Internet, in part because it’s an unnecessary privacy violation that hasn’t even resulted in good ads. (The only off-site JavaScript we use is for Google Analytics, which we use for site statistics.)


At the bottom of every article, you’ll see a Read More About This Topic row that contains up to six related articles — click one to read the article. We’re relying on a WordPress plug-in called SearchWP to identify related articles algorithmically, and we can set them manually as well.


Comments still appear at the bottom of articles for quick reading, but if you want to participate in the discussion, you’ll end up clicking over to the Discourse server, which is running on an entirely different host for technical reasons. […] Finally, TidBITS Talk has been a mailing list for its 20-year history, but we’re moving it to Discourse as well.

I love these behind-the-scenes articles. The new design looks great. Areas for improvement: removing the excessive <span> tags and making the archives more easily browsable, e.g. by date or headline.

Update (2018-04-04): See also: New TidBITS site feedback and ideas for archive browsing.

Update (2018-04-17): See also: Unco.

Making Illegal States Unrepresentable

Ole Begemann (tweet):

The [URLSession] completion handler receives three optional values: Data?, URLResponse? and Error?. That makes 2 × 2 × 2 = 8 possible states, but how many of those are legal?


Brandon and Stephen made a small mistake: they assumed that the API will either return (a) a valid Data and URLResponse, or (b) an Error. After all, it shouldn’t be possible to get a non-nil response and an error at the same time. Makes sense, right?

It turns out that this is wrong. A URLResponse encapsulates the server’s HTTP response headers, and the URLSession API will always provide you with this value once it has received a valid response header, even if the request errors at a later stage (e.g. due to cancellation or a timeout). It’s thus expected behavior for the completion handler to contain a populated URLResponse and a non-nil error value (but no Data).

Adding AppleScriptObjC to Existing Scripts

Shane Stanley:

The script runs fine (assuming you have a file called Test.txt on your Desktop), until you uncomment the use framework line, after which you get the error: “Can’t make current application into type file.” That’s not very helpful.

The solution is to change the code so you build file references using coercions.

In other words, as alias instead of using a string that represents a path. I usually use POSIX file "path", and that also works.

Why Inheritance Never Made Any Sense

Graham Lee:

Inheritance was never a problem: trying to use the same tree for three different concepts was the problem.


Your domain model is not your object model. Your domain model is not your abstract data type model. Your object model is not your abstract data type model.