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Apple Testing ARM Based Mac Prototypes with Large Magic Trackpad?

French site MacBidouille revives rumors that Apple is actively developing ARM processor based Macs. According to a source that they describe as reliable, Apple has prototypes of several ARM-based machines, including an iMac, Mac mini, and 13" Notebook with 4-8 64-bit ARM Quad-core processors.

These machines are reportedly far along in development, and come with a new keyboard that incorporates a large-format Magic Trackpad. Apple might even be ready for an announcement but is reportedly hesitant to make the move.

MacBidouille isn't a frequent source of rumors, so its hard to gauge its source's credibility, but rumors of ARM-based Macs have been circulating for years. It seems likely that Apple has prototyped such devices, but many have doubted the feasibility of moving forward with such a plan.

The first inklings of such a plan might have come when Apple threatened to abandon Intel's chips if they didn't work to slash power consumption. While AMD might have been one way to go for Apple, the first rumors of an Apple migration from Intel to ARM processors appeared earlier that year. Later, a report claimed that Apple already had an ARM (A5) powered MacBook Air in their labs back in 2011.

An analysis in 2012 suggested that Apple shifting from Intel to ARM wasn't implausible but it faced several hurdles. The most significant one was Apple's own ARM chips being able to keep a pace with Intel's future roadmap.

Apple, however, has been making great strides in performance in their ARM processors. The A7 is described as desktop class even in an independent analysis. In fact, the A7 chip is currently being underutilized in Apple's iPhone and iPad devices, leaving some of its power untapped.

Related Roundups: iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air

Top Rated Comments

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67 months ago
I really hope that this isn't true.
Rating: 61 Votes
67 months ago
Please no. I can't take another processor transition...
Rating: 44 Votes
67 months ago
A big reason I switched to a Apple is because I could dual boot windows (and run it in a VM at basically native speed). As much as I like OSX, most of my work still requires windows, so if they switched to ARM, I'd be switching back to PCs
Rating: 28 Votes
67 months ago
please.. just please no!!
Rating: 25 Votes
67 months ago
It will happen

It is clear to me that an ARM-based laptop will happen. Timing is everything and will only be introduced when it is ready. In this date and age, it doesn't make sense to have laptops that still get so hot. ARM solves that issue.
Rating: 25 Votes
67 months ago
Dual boot Windows RT BOOYAH!
Rating: 23 Votes
67 months ago
Apple did something like this with PowerPC long ago, and it held up quite well over time. Right now, people aren't looking for performance anymore. We already have it. What the mainstream user wants is a cooler, quieter, battery-friendly computer.

The risk here is apple making a chromebook. If they do what they did during the PPC days, and can get developers on their side, which is plausible considering people are leaving intel due to costs, they will have a great low-priced product that would be perfectly fine for many of their customers.
Rating: 21 Votes
67 months ago

PPC was an inferior platform, built by a small company and IBM. Intel is the undisputed market leader in chips.

Intel also sells an ~8 watt processor (Y class) that no one appears to be using. So that would fit just fine in a device like this.

Wouldn't exactly call Motorola a "small company."
Rating: 19 Votes
67 months ago
LOL. Apple tests lots of things. Even if that were true that doesn't mean that any such product will be shipping any time soon, if ever. It never hurts for Apple to have an alternative to Intel available if required.

Switching to ARM would be problematic for Apple as it would carry the chance of falling behind Intel in performance. Don't get me wrong, Apple has done great things with ARM, but that's different from saying they can take on Intel's strongest offerings and win in the long term. Furthermore, switching to ARM would require a recompile of all apps for max performance. Judging by the people who still whine about Rosetta being removed, there's a lot of people who use obsolete apps that aren't updated. Would this stop a switch? No, but it would give Apple pause, and it would make it impossible to switch back and forth depending on who's ahead.
Rating: 19 Votes
67 months ago
I see ARM-based MacBooks facing some of the very same hurdles as Surface RT products. Mainly, what apps would run on one, besides Apple applications? Unless an emulator was provided, but that would be inefficient as hell in terms of battery consumption.
Rating: 17 Votes

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