Rumors: Apple to leave x86 and Intel and switch to ARM based in-house processors for its product lines starting from 2020.
Figured this is quite relevant to us here, with a heavy Mac userbase, as this also has ramifications in the eGPU world: It is not obvious that current eGPUs will work with these machines because that would require them adopting Thunderbolt into that ecosystem. That said, Apple was one of the driving forces behind Thunderbolt in the first place, and with the spec being royalty-free, they may well develop their own controllers, likely integrated into their SoCs. On the other hand, with Apple's lack of care for any sort of support for old customers, they might not care enough to do so.
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This is Apple's big bet on the generation that grew up with iPads. Nothing's wrong with that from a business perspective. The sad thing is the rectangular touchscreen has become the primary touchpoint for kids to interact with and learn about the physical world. It removes so much from the organic experience.
This sort of speculation has been around for a long time - Apple is famous for seeking to be as vertically integrated as possible, and Intel is a huge dependency. This is not just Apple - everyone is trying (?) to go ARM on the more portable side - including PCs. The first ARM PCs have already be announced for this year (like the Envy X2), and I would expect Apple to have a competitive solution to Qualcomm on that front, the key being app compatibility - Microsoft already went for UWP and Win32 emulation to bridge ARM/x86 and Desktop/Touch experiences, so it's one step ahead in this regard, but this is more about who does it right rather than who does it first.
As for eGPUs, all of these devices are on the light/portable side, so not really the target audience for eGPUs. I wouldn't expect this to be a quick, one-generation transition for Apple - it makes sense for things like Macboook Airs, but it would be surprising to see ARM replacements for devices like MBPs until any emulation is good enough (and those ARM chips significantly faster than the i7s of today), so that sounds more like a 5+ year plan.
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Would certainly be interesting to see. Closely related however is a more looming rumor for macOS 10.14 - cross-compatible apps with iOS. That would perhaps be the beginning of "unifying" things - of course it will be significantly different from what Windows did, if true.
My guess is they will do a tiered performance model on the Macbook Pro (only the 15 inch) and keep their in house SOC on basically all other lower end models (12,14(air?),14) You can get the Macbook pro with the intel CPU (for a higher cost) or get the SoC with the promises of amazing battery life for cheaper but you can still run all apple apps but no Bootcamp.
It'd be very nice to have good portability between mac and iOS (currently it's an utter pain tbh - I dropped Mac support for a recent project for this reason!) So I'm very much looking forward to the WWDC announcements on that side.
Transitioning to ARM? We'll see I guess. Bear in mind that current iPhone chips are competitive with (or ahead of!) the lower end of Apple's own laptop range. If they swapped the MacBook CPU for the A11 today we'd likely see a major speed and battery life gain (apps not compiled for Arm aside).
With 2 more years of improvements (or 3, we've not seen Apple's 2018 designs yet), and parts designed for higher end systems, who knows? They could replace the whole laptop range with in-house processors and graphics. (Same performance as my 1080TI but with Apple's architecture please - I reckon I could squeeze a solid 2x speedup out of that 😉
Software will be a mixed bag - most will just need a recompile, which means a simple update in most cases, or complete loss of your favourite app if the developers have disappeared. Things like games may be more difficult, especially where the devs are inlining assembly. On the other hand, iOS is a much bigger market than the mac, and we might see desktop ports of phone games, or we might see better ports of desktop/console games on both. Maybe not a bad thing if phone hardware is approaching desktop anyway, that could benefit both iOS and mac.
Then of course there's adobe, who'll ship buggy updates 12 months after the hardware, despite having access to prototypes and previews of the OS years in advance 😉