Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Are You Ready For An ARM Chip In your Macbook?

The question analysts and bloggers ought to be asking when pushing the idea of Apple using its own ARM chip in Macbooks is this:  is the Market ready to move away from Intel and embrace OS X on ARM?  Also, has Apple gained such a sufficient share in the PC market that Windows compatibility is no longer a wanted feature?

The speculation that Apple will move to ARM in Macbook started last week and has yet to due. Apparently, there is nothing to talk about until WWDC next month.  So let's speculate further by asking a few other questions concerning this theoretical move.

  • Again, are you ready to buy a Macbook without Intel inside?
  • Will doing this give Apple an advantage over its competitors?
  • Is Windows compatibility no longer a relevant move?
  • Are you fine with good graphics but an overall slower Mac operation - Intel chips will still be much faster than ARM chips in 3 to 4 years. 
Keep in mind that having Windows compatibility is a key selling factor for the Intel-based Macs even if people don't use it much.  But it is nice to know that if I never need it, I can just boot into Bootcamp or run Parallels with Windows installed.  Of course, there is a solution:  Microsoft is working on am ARM-based Windows.

I think all this is just what it was like about 10 years ago when bloggers got wind of the fact that even as Apple was shipping Macs based on PowerPC, it had a parallel Intel version of OS X in the works as well.  So, it's not unthinkable that Apple has a version of OS X running on ARM or AMD chips for a "just in case" scenario.

While this has no direct impact on Apple fans or mobile warriors, it is fun to speculate nontheless. What I hope for is that a switch to ARM chips might not mean monster speed increases on work like 3D rendering or Photoshopping, it could mean way longer battery life than laptops today.  

Just in case, I bought a new Macbook Air about a month ago and I don't see any reason for me to upgrade for another 3 years at the very least.  Maybe by then, just maybe...

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