Okay this is just some of my subjective musing on the future of Intel, AMD and ARM right before Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2020. I made the prediction back in 2016 that Apple would switch from intel to ARM in 2019.

Back then I don’t think that was obvious to people, but because I had made several other predictions in the past where I got pretty close such as predicting something like the Swift programming language I thought the prediction game was kind of fun to play. I wanted to see what I could get right if I tried to analyze the situation.

Watching the enormous success of the iOS platform and the tremendous performance increases of ARM as well as where computing was going in general it seemed obvious to me that this would happen even if no industry pundit had said so.

Anyway watching how computing has developed over the years it is clear that multicore is where it is at. So much software and games now are all built around using multiple cores. If you software runs on 8 cores then there isn’t anything fundamental that has to change for it to run on 16 cores. Hence from now on anyone who is good at adding cores will win.

We see how AMD is currently eating intel’s lunch because it came up with a smarter strategy for how to add multiple cores cheaply to its processors.

Intel is now under siege from two sides. Higher performance computing is facing tremendous challenge from AMD. Meanwhile ARM is trashing intel on mobile computing.

Apple can now realistically swap out intel in its laptops and get better performance, lower power consumption, longer battery life and lower prices by going for ARM.

Meanwhile high end users, gamers, and game consoles are increasingly choosing AMD over intel. Even in the server space both ARM and AMD are making inroads.

Intel made a major strategic blunder by trying to stay relevant in the mobile space. It was always just a question of time before ARM would come crashing down your castle doors. AMD wisely chose to focus their energies where x86 can still play a role for a while.

Where Apple will Use ARM Chips

I still don’t think intel is entirely out with Apple when WWDC is unveiled. The really big gains for Apple is to get ARM into their laptops. That is where power consumption and heat generation matters, the key strength of ARM.

And it may be the consumer lineup and not the pro lineup which gets ARM. They may not want to do anything risk for the pro customers. Consumers on the other hand are more sensitive to things like price and going for ARM will allow them to sell cheaper laptops or alternatively expand other hardware aspects without increasing price, making them more competitive with PC offerings.

The Mac Mini is also a pretty sure bet for ARM. But make no mistake, intel will be living on borrowed time. While not everything will be ARM from the get go. It will just be a question of time before the full Mac lineup will be ARM based.

I cannot see why performance should be an issue. In desktop models, Apple can ramp up the clock frequency by using more cooling. Since power usage is less important, just adding a whole bunch of cores should be a no brainer solution to crushing intel on performance. I cannot think of much of anything today which is going to require the really high single core performance intel can offer.

Even when doing HD video editing, performance has not been an issue on my macs for many years. Fast hard drives and enough memory seems to matter more, most of the time.

Written by

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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