On the ARM powered Mac
First thing first: Of course Apple is experimenting with ARM chips in its Macs. The company is the largest vendor of ARM based devices in the world. Secondly: A switch would take place because of in-house control, price advantages and streamlined strategy (app compatibility, operations and R&D efficiency etc), NOT because of performance such as speed and power consumption.
Today, Intel chips are much closer to match ARM chips in low power consumption than ARM chips are to match Intel chips in raw computing power. Intel’s latest mobile Atom chip, found in the Motorola Razr i, already today holds its own when it comes to speed and battery life compared to smartphone chips from ARM. And that is accomplished with a single core processor, meaning that Intel has some easy performance headroom for the next iteration. Meanwhile, the new, state of the art Cortex A15 cpu from Samsung, can’t quite match the computing performance found in the Samsung Chromebook 550 with an Intel celeron chip inside. The Samsung chip is still way impressive, since it’s cooler, cheaper and needs less power than the Intel Celeron chip.
This does not mean that ARM chips won’t be good enough to power our future Mac’s or Windows devices, of course they will. However, Intel has the performance advantage for some years to come. Furthermore, even if we are in a plateau era where most of us have “good enough” computing power in our notebooks and desktops, this can change rapidly. Our cameras take increasingly and ridiculously high resolution pictures and sooner than we might expect, Ultra-High Definition (4k) screens, media and recording devices will be upon us, requiring a whole new level of computing power to do daily things we expect to do swiftly (such as view and edit photos & video). The new retina Macbook Pros are current examples where great computing power are needed to push a lot of pixels in order to perform “simple” tasks as web browsing, and from what I’ve heard, the 13 inch Macbook Pro suffers from it a little bit.
But here’s the thing: Intel chips are traditionally much more expensive than ARM chips and that is a very important factor to say the least. And Apple has its own ARM expertise and technology. And having a single platform to write software for would of course be very efficient. And maybe also compelling to customers. Also: Intel has been a great Mac partner for Apple, but not an ideal one… For example; with the Macbook Airs, Apple showed Intel how to do a thin and light computer and Intel took the blueprints and hasn’t stop shouting “Ultrabook” ever since.
So, to sum it up: We may well be shopping for ARM equipped Macs in the future, but it will happen because of control, price and strategy concerns, not battery life or computing power.