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    Newsletter Issue #1008: Apple and Processor Paranoia

    November 1st, 2020

    First, I’m not going to join the crowd and report about Apple’s financials. They’ve been reported in more places than anyone can count, and if you want to know more, check Apple’s investors page for the raw figures.

    Now as you’ve probably heard, Apple is reportedly readying the first generation of Macs with Apple Silicon, based on the same chips used for the iPhone and the iPad. But while the company has done processor switches twice before, that hasn’t stopped some less-informed, or less honest, members of the member from fear-mongering.

    So as the date for the release of the first ARM-based Mac arrives, you’ll hear more and more ill-informed speculation about how Apple is destroying its brand and betraying hundreds of thousands of loyal Mac developers. But in our real world — and not the bizarre world of alternative facts — Apple has plenty of experience with processor switches.

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    Newsletter Issue #995: Does Apple Really Want to
    Alienate Customers with ARM on a Mac?

    June 14th, 2020

    A lot of what passes for tech journalism — or mainstream journalism for that matter — fails to recognize the history behind a matter. So for several years, as Apple produced faster and faster custom ARM-based CPUs that vanquished competing silicon, there has been growing speculation that the Mac will get them next.

    On the surface, it makes plenty of sense sense. In recent years, Intel has begun to hit the wall in improving the performance of its own CPU. Its efforts to build mobile processors haven’t gone so well. At one time, the low-power chip that came to be known as Atom was considered as a possible contender for use in the iPhone, or perhaps other Apple mobile gear.

    It never happened, and Intel’s efforts to move from its core competency – PC processors — haven’t gone so well. For a time Apple even bought billions of dollars of baseband modems for iPhones from Intel, but the company hasn’t been able to scale up to 5G. In the end, Apple settled a simmering series of lawsuits with Qualcomm to buy its hardware instead.

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    Newsletter Issue #993: Revising ARM on Macs — Again!

    May 17th, 2020

    It’s fair to say that if you repeat a somewhat reasonable rumor about Apple year after year, it might eventually come to pass. So as its ARM-based CPUs have become more and more powerful, it seems a given that Apple is poised to ditch Intel one of these days and make the third processor switchover in its history.

    Now when Apple first moved to the PowerPC in 1994, it didn’t seem so much of an issue at the time, although it survived for 12 years. But the Intel rumors were around for quite a while. One of the most interesting ones focused on Apple having a secret project, “Star Trek,” where new Macs were being tested with Intel CPUs at the same time that Steve Jobs was reassuring everyone that they were perfectly happy with the progress of the PowerPC.

    Lest you forget, the most powerful Macs with the G5 required liquid cooling to keep the chassis from frying. It was never tamed for notebook use, so year after year the fastest PowerBooks lost traction against even cheaper Intel-based Windows portables.

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    Newsletter Issue #975: The Road to Catalina — My Audio Dilemma

    July 25th, 2019

    As most of you know, the next version of macOS is named Catalina, or macOS 10.15. But I wonder how long Apple is going to use the traditional number ten versioning before goes to 11, or somewhere.

    No matter. Regardless of the naming scheme, Apple has packed the usual bunch of new features. I suppose the most meaningful for the long-term is Catalyst, which allows for a new range of apps that can run on both iPad and Mac. I suppose it’s possible that this is the first step towards switching Macs to Apple’s brand of A-series ARM processors. It also helps developers build apps for both platforms with, supposedly, some tweaking here and there.

    One key goal is to help iOS developers create Mac versions without a lot of time and expense.

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