Rumors have it that we’ll see the first ARM-powered Macs. The transition to ARM has a ton of upside but the plan for a successful ecosystem transition is murky. I’m excited to see what gets announced tomorrow. Of all the things I’m excited about, there are 2 things that standout: graphics performance and the future of software development on the Mac.
Current-generation Macs are powered by a combination of Intel-built CPUs and discrete graphics cards. I suspect the transition to ARM will mean Apple will no longer be able to use discrete graphics cards. Meaning, Apple’s new chips will have Apple-built CPUs and GPUs. Based on the latest benchmarks of Apple’s A14 chip in the newest iPhones and iPads, I fully expect Apple Silicon to exceed the performance of Intel CPUs. I’m not as confident about GPU performance.
Prediction: Apple has decided now is the time to start the transition to ARM because it’s new chips will blow past current generation Macs in both CPU and GPU performance.
Basically every software developer I know, including myself, writes code on a Mac. They’re beautiful computers and MacOS is a stellar operating system. Over the past decade, software developers have created a vast ecosystem of tools for the Mac. And more, most production systems use the same x86-64 architecture currently found on the Mac. Will developers ensure their ecosystem of tools run smoothly on the new ARM architecture? And will we start to see more ARM-based production systems?
Thoughts: I don’t think we’ll hear much on this tomorrow. Software developers are a curious bunch, so I suspect most tools will be updated to support ARM-based Macs. As for production systems, I don’t see a switch to ARM happening anytime soon. That leaves developers in a precarious position. My money is on there being a lot of talk, without much action, and things will end up mostly fine.