Still Thinking Different - ARM Based Mac Pro?
November 06, 2012

In my Mac Pro Update - Think Different post a few weeks ago, I said that I thought we don’t really need a great big new Mac Pro from Apple.

What we need instead (and I admit that I don’t have an exact technical solution for this problem, but nevertheless) is a unit or units that can seemlessly enhance the processing power of a laptop when it’s on our home network.

You could argue that there’s still a need for a big box that can host all sorts of large expansion cards, but I’m not really convinced. Thunderbolt should deal with most of that.

Something else has occurred to me recently.

People have been talking about a potential switch away from Intel to ARM for the Mac range, and assuming that it would happen first with a Mac Mini or an iMac, since they are seen as “consumer”, and there’s a perception that consumer machines will be easier to switch over.

I actually think that the opposite will happen. I think that the first ARM Mac is likely to come in the guise of a new “Pro” desktop box. I also think that it’s likely to be loaded to the gills with cores, to the extent that it blows away anything out there in terms of raw processing power.

With GCD / blocks / NSOperation, Cocoa has a really nice clean model for making use of multiple cores. Better than anything I’ve used before (although admittedly I’m now a bit out of date with regard to the competition).

With the expansion of privelege separation and things like XPC, we’re also moving closer to a world where even a single app could be run seamlessly across multiple machines.

It seems to me that switching to a relatively low power, low cost, risc architecture makes perfect sense in this world.

Before you ask - I’ve absolutely no evidence for this. Just thinking aloud…