ARM Transition - Any guesses as to a timeframe, if it happens?

I’m planning my next Mac purchase in the next 6 months, and I’m wondering what y’all’s thoughts are on two things:

(1) Do you think it’s likely that Apple is planning an ARM transition across the product line in the near future?
(2) If they do, any guesses (based on the x86 transition) as to how long the Intel Macs will be supported with the yearly release cycle?

I’d hate to buy a super-beefy unit with the expectation that I’ll get half a dozen years out of it and wind up with something I (practically speaking) have to replace in a few years. But by the same token, I like buying a nice machine from the get-go and replacing my Mac as infrequently as possible. :slight_smile:


I think that the chance of any high-end Mac begins based on ARM CPUs in the next year is pretty much zero. I have no inside knowledge though, so as always, this is just some guy on the Internet :slight_smile:


Apple announced the Intel transition in June 2005. The first Mac OS version not to run on PowerPC hardware was Snow Leopard, released in August 2009.

I’m betting 2021, with an App Store only ARM-based macOS, and dual/contemporaneous boot with iOS, starting with a consumer iBook that’s close to the price of an existing lower-end MacBook.

Dual-OS bang for the buck for the consumer, higher margins (no ‘Intel tax’).

But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting that 1st-gen machine, or any of Apple’s 1st-gen hardware for that matter.

I agree with @ACautionaryTale & @ChrisUpchurch . I purchased a Power Mac G5 in '04 and used it until late 2010 - early 2011. IMO, you’ll probably be ready to upgrade a Mac purchased in 2020 before Apple is ready to drop support on all Intel Macs.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple never sells an ARM powered Mac Pro.

Late 2021 is my guess with an announcement at 2021 WWDC about ARM based Macs. Intel will still rule the roost for high end MacBooks and iMacs but the entry level MacBook and iMac will be ARM based.

Most modern API are already supported on ARM the software transition shouldn’t be too difficult. Xcode allows you to build to an intermediary format.

More importantly Apple hired ARM Lead Architect Mike Filippo. Some my say “Apple already has their ARM team” but what people need to understand is that Apple is not going to simply toss an A14 Bionic chip in a Mac and call it a day. The Mac ARM chips will be larger, higher TDP processors with their own GPU on die. Bringing in another high level architect to get this right is essential

I’m excited about ARM Macs. I imagine MacBooks with 24 hour battery and fan-less Mac mini. Intel will still have a place in the higher end but moving to ARM allows Apple to release products on their schedule rather than the CPU/Chipset schedule that Intel provides

I totally agree. For desktop Macs in particular they’d have much more opportunity to take full advantage of the increased thermal cooling capabilities and the removal of the battery life consideration.

And yeah - with what they can put in an iPhone 11 Pro case, imagine what they can do with a whole Macbook body. :slight_smile:

I’m simultaneously hoping that the ARM transition is awesome and that Apple continues to support the old Intel architecture long enough that my next Mac is retired because it’s really time for an upgrade, rather than being retired because the OS just stops supporting it.

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Am I right in thinking that Swift UI is linked with the ARM transition in some way? In the sense that it’s a wrapper over Swift itself and when ARM comes in the under the hood code could change whilst the swift UI wrapper could be unchanged? Or are they totally unconnected?

I don’t think there’s anything special about Swift UI as far as the compiler being able to target ARM. The compiler Xcode uses is great at spitting out simultaneous app builds for multiple architectures. At some point Apple will update Xcode to allow the developer community to do that.

Where I think Swift UI is absolutely part of their potential architecture portability strategy is lowering the amount of code needed to get old apps up to date, since old apps are pretty unlikely to be built on Xcode latest.

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