back to article ARM, TSMC tape out 64-bit Cortex-A57 chip on 16 nanometers

ARM looks set to take its high-end PC and sever chip down to 16 nanometers according to the latest tape-out, which should give it a boost against rival Chipzilla. If the ARM collective is to compete against Intel in the server and in whatever might remain of the personal computer, then it is going to have to do more than beef up …

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Silver badge

A ARM-PC?

I've been theorizing a move to ARM for desktops for APPL for some time, and I'm not alone in seeing that on the horizon.

Could that be what this is about?

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Sil

Re: A ARM-PC?

I'm not sure even Fanbois would be pleased with yet another architecture change and years of compromises with super slow Rosetta emulator, softwares to purchase again and much to recompile and retest.

For what? It's not even sure ARM will keep the lead on computing power / watt. Apple doesn't have a foundry, is not happy with Samsung, TSMC is generally late and global foundries isn't strong financially.

The irony would be of course Apple ARM processors produced in Intel's fabs but this scenario would make more sense for phone and tablet processors.

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Re: A ARM-PC?

Some valid points but I disagree on the assessment of the willingness of Fanbois to adopt another architecture. I think they won't even raise an eyebrow. Apple sells on image - the 30-something guy in jeans and a t-shirt who's not short of cash - and, in doing so, is able to command a premium price for their products (why are iPhones and iPads so expensive?)

Apple has always adopted a 'niche' strategy. They're not interested in the mass market. They're interested in making more profit from less buyers. To do this, they sell the image, not the machine. It's not Apple Computer Inc anymore, it's just Apple Inc. The machine is not as important as the image.

So I don't think they'll be any noticeable change in their sales figures if they move to ARM. Costs may come done and profitability per unit may increase, but I dont' see many Fanbois changing to Windows or Linux.

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Silver badge

Re: A ARM-PC?

Apple only switched to Intel after it had demonstrated its advantages over rivals for a few years- AMD was a bit hot at the time, Power chips more so - and their hand was forced. Besides, not all of the ARM architecture's power savings currently translate for desktop/laptop purposes, certainly not enough to go through all the bother of causing 3rd party developers loads of work. So, I would image Apple will continue with a 'wait and see' bet-hedging strategy, using this new ARM in one of their more niche products first (like an Apple TV) first, if at all.

Or I'm completely wrong, and Apple will appeal to their traditional power users (those whose tools often emulate pens, knobs and sliders - i.e graphics, video and music) and bring out a Wacom-threatening iOS super iPad designed more for productivity than consumption (I don't really think so... such people can already tether their pad and use it as a control surface if they want to).

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Boffin

Re: A ARM-PC?

If users accept the "iPhone-ization" of OS X that has been trending with Lion and Mountain Lion and all apps come through the "app store" then it wouldn't be an issue at all.

With Unix-like systems (e.g. OS X and Linux), there are no technical barriers to compiling apps on multiple architectures. My experience (with ArchLinux) suggests that >90% can be ported without any changes at all.

Of course, Intel won't like it and this is another area where MS's legacy OS is completely fscked.

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Anonymous Coward

Outstanding kit, actually

"Expensive" is a relative term. Apple's kit is also on the high end of the quality scale. I personally don't think Apple's kit is in any way expensive for the quality of product they deliver. I am apparently not alone in this.

That you don't evaluate things the same as I do, is just fine, but the blanket "expensive" label is tiring to read and not correct. (And please don't respond with a tech spec v. Price argument, because it would but prove you haven't understood at all)

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16 nm!

fuck it, we're going to 5 blades!

www.theonion.com/articles/fuck-everything-were-doing-five-blades,11056/

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Silver badge

Re: 16 nm!

Hehe. With these modern razors, I can't get that little bit of stubble right under my nose, and have to resort to a plastic Bic. 'Movember' be damned, I'm leaving moustaches to Errol Flyn, David Niven, WW2 RAF pilots and other dashing fellows!

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Bronze badge

Leap of faith

With regards to Apple targeting a "niche", there is certain amount of truth to that. Just go back a while (ok, couple of decades and a bit) and they utterly dominated publishing/printing industry. If you needed anything printed (professionally) that was not done on a Mac, you pretty much had to provide EPS with embedded fonts or something equivalent. Apple did very well from that market.

As for being expensive, yeah perhaps they are "reassuringly expensive", but nowhere as overpriced as they used to be. Sure you still pay a premium, but you do get fairly nicely engineered piece of kit.

The possibility of Apple embracing the A57 with open arms instead of intel doesn't sound that unplausible. After all Apple is already using ARM architecture so it is not like some its past architecture changes. Also I would be very surprised if Apple didn't internally have full-blown OSX running on ARM even if the current available devices sport a cut down version.

Disclaimer: Last Mac I had was 2nd hand Quadra with PPC601 accelerator card so I have no vested interest either way.

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