The ARM MacBook that will (never?) come

Apple Inc. is designing a new chip for future Mac laptops that would take on more of the functionality currently handled by Intel Corp. processors, according to people familiar with the matter.

The new report comes from Bloomberg, and there we can find  (not much) information about the codenamed T310, an ARM chip that would be the next Apple’s step on that theoretical path to abandon Intel chips some day.

The T310 could be used to enable a new low-power mode on Apple’s MacBooks, but it’s not exactly clear if the chip will in fact replace the Intel chip on every front in that scenario, or will limit itself to certain low-power tasks. Apple has already integrated a T1 ARM chip to manage the Touch Bar, and the new one could be use for a “Power Nap” mode that:

allows Mac laptops to retrieve e-mails, install software updates, and synchronize calendar appointments with the display shut and not in use

This is interesting in its own right, and would mean that that ARM chip is indeed capable of running macOS apps that (again, this is relevant) are theoretically coded on an x86 instruction code, not an ARM one. I wonder if there is some kind of emulation here, or those apps have two binaries to run in either processor when needed.

Both scenarios are interesting, and could lead to that future in which the ARM MacBook will, indeed, come. It seems that will take more time than we thought it would, though.

Source: Apple Said to Work on Mac Chip That Would Lessen Intel Role – Bloomberg

Windows 10 on ARM could (should) be a game changer for Microsoft

Windows RT, the version of Windows with native support for ARM processors, failed miserably due to lack of support by developers. Other recent efforts to conquest the mobile space also came to nothing: Project Islandwood and Astoria (port iOS and Android apps to Windows) didn’t get the interest they requested, and it seemed that every attempt on this space was cursed from the beginning.

This situation could really change with the recent announcement from Qualcomm, who has showed how their ARM processors can finally run Windows 10 and Windows software quite well thanks to emulation.

We’ll have to see if this “quite well” is “really well”, but it seems clear that the latest mobile CPUs are really powerful. In fact, most of us underutilize that hardware, so taking advantage of it by supporting this platform could be specially interesting.

This support opens the gate to future smartphones that can become real PCs thanks to Continuum (the problem with Continuum on the Lumia 950/XL was similar to the one Windows RT had), but there are also a nice set of opportunities for new convertibles: a Surface Pro could last longer and include 4G/LTE connetivity for example.

That poses a real opportunity for Microsoft in the mobile space at last, and a real threat for its rivals, who had the software advantage and now could be competing in equal terms. It’s still too soon to judge the result, but this is one of the most promising things Microsoft has in its sleeve.

Let’s hope it’s not the last one.

Source: Microsoft now has the tools to make the Surface Pro the ultimate mobile computer – The Verge

Intel: if we can’t defeat them, we’ll join them

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Intel lost a recent opportunity to save itself from the mobile disaster, but there’s still hope for them. Not as makers, though: the recent deal made with ARM will allow other microprocessor designers to take advantage of Intel’s resources in the production process.

That could be a good way to leverage the technology and experience Intel has accumulated through all this years, but it’s also another sign -we didn’t need much more of these- of an Intel that threw in the towel long ago in the mobile space.

AMD made a similar move when GlobalFoundries spun off, and it went pretty well for them. We’ll see what happens with this new strategy from Intel.

ARM, Softbank and Intel’s lost chance

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There was a time when Intel dominated the world. That time passed and the company is one of the biggest examples of ‘The innovator’s dilemma’. They were too confident in themselves, as many others -Nokia, Blackberry- and they failed to see what the future was going to be.

Intel could have made a smart move, but again they didn’t probably even consider it, and now Softbank has done something that could be a really future saver: they’ve made a whopping buyout offer to acquire ARM for £24.3 billion (~$32 billion).

Apparently the reason is Softbank’s interest in IoT. I’d say that’s only a marketing trick to add some hype to the headlines. ARM dominates the world now thanks to their smartphone chip design business, and it will be interesting to see what this Japanese giant does with this kind of power.

In case somebody didn’t notice, it’s a good time to acquire British companies, ahem Brexit ahem.

Source: ARM legs it to SoftBank in $32 billion buyout