After Apple Started Will Windows Computers Enter The ARM Camp?: Soon after the iPad Pro was first equipped with a pen and an official keyboard, my boss, as well as many CXO-level people on the Internet, said one after another: This device is great and it is a productivity tool.
Then, after every iPad Pro update, we codeword workers will perform a customary performance art: write articles on iPad Pro to prove whether this thing is a productivity tool. The answer for several years has been the same: writing articles on iPad Pro, yes, but not necessary.
Then every year Apple also organizes official events, inviting illustrators, designers and other creative workers to show how they “make flowers”, making everyone sigh: We are not using the same iPad Pro.
After talking about these irrelevant prefaces, let’s talk about the topic.
This year’s WWDC Developers Conference is very special. It is not only the first time Apple has developed a conference in the form of online live broadcast, but the content is far more exciting than previous years. In addition to the huge changes in iOS 14 and macOS design, Apple also confirmed at the press conference that the Mac will switch to the ARM chip.
Judging from Apple’s presentation at the press conference, ARM chips, which were originally found in mobile phones and tablet computers, are actually effective in desktop applications. With the support of the A12Z chip and the new system, the three-piece Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom software can run smoothly.
This inevitably makes people think, will Windows also switch to the ARM camp?
ARM is no longer Wuxia Amon
Switching platforms is not an easy task. As we mentioned in the previous article, the biggest problem that Apple has to face from the Intel platform to ARM is the software ecosystem.
For many years, the processor chips used by Apple on the Mac are provided by Intel, and the hardware architecture of Intel processors is the X86 architecture, which is different from the ARM architecture. The former uses a complex instruction set, and the latter uses a reduced instruction set.
The program and the processor communicate through the “instruction set”, but the software compiled for the X86 architecture can understand the content expressed by the complex instruction set, but not necessarily the content expressed by the simplified instruction set.
Even basic “communication” can’t be guaranteed, so how can we guarantee the smooth running of the software?
The software and the processor cannot communicate well, so the Microsoft Surface Pro X equipped with the ARM processor can only simulate the X86 environment to run 32-bit programs or UWP applications. During our actual use, Surface Pro X also experienced software crashes, freezes, and even automatic shutdown.
The solution is not without, software vendors need to compile and optimize software specifically for ARM, but ARM processors have few products in the desktop market, and software vendors have no enthusiasm to compile and optimize software for ARM.
However, now there is a new influencing factor: Macs will use ARM chips.
In the recent WWDC conference, Apple demonstrated the use of Microsoft Office three-piece suite and Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom and other third-party software. They can all run smoothly on the ARM processor platform. At the same time, Apple’s own large-scale application Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro can also run smoothly.
This is enough to prove that the ARM chip has a good performance release effect on the desktop side, and Apple also announced a new Xcode development tool at the press conference to improve software compilation efficiency and accelerate the adaptation of Mac software to ARM.
In addition, the performance of the A12Z ARM chip has also been proven before. The iPad Pro Geekbench equipped with the A12Z processor has a single-core 1118 and multi-core 4625, which is very close to the top version of the MacBook Pro 2020 13-inch score.
▲GeekBench 5 single-core and multi-core performance comparison data that we tested before (the asterisk is the new model, the i5 dual thunderbolt and quad thunderbolt versions are divided into Max Tech data)
Recently, the running scores of A12Z under macOS have also been exposed. According to foreign media MacRumors, some developers have conducted running score tests on the development transition kit (Mac mini) equipped with A12Z. The results are 811 single-core and 2781 multi-core. The overall score is close to MacBook Air 2020.
But this score is based on Apple’s Universal Binary Compilation Language Rosetta 2, and there are 4 cores that have not been activated during the test, and the performance has been lost a lot. If you can test the Mac mini after the transition is completed, I believe the score will be closer to the iPad. Pro’s running points.
Back to the topic at the beginning, the performance of the current most powerful iPad Pro is actually on par with the entry-level MacBook. Therefore, for codeword migrant workers, the current top mobile ARM chip absolutely meets the so-called “productivity” needs, and larger 4K video editing is no problem.
Of course, at this year’s WWDC, the Tomb Raider game clip exhibited by Apple made many ROG or alien computer users really laugh and laugh because of the slag quality.
People who spend tens of thousands of dollars on a Dell or ThinkPad mobile workstation will naturally not expect the performance of the ARM processor.
This scenario is back to what was said at the beginning. “Productivity” is Schrodinger’s, and its status varies from person to person. For most people, the “productivity” brought about by the performance of ARM processors is overflowing. If you deny it, Congratulations, you are a minority.
For a large number of people, the iPad Pro processor is used on the MacBook, and it also solves the software compatibility problem. Then it is definitely a good news: a thinner, longer battery life MacBook Air who doesn’t like it?
In fact, a thinner and lighter Surface Pro with longer battery life has long been available: Surface Pro X equipped with a Snapdragon processor was released last year.
However, not many people like it, and even fewer people pay the bill.
The reason is that Windows 10 runs on ARM processors and is not stable, and some software is not available.
When Mac decided to switch to an ARM processor, why would everyone be more confident? Probably still confidence in Apple’s control system ecology: the underlying code in many macOS applications today is actually the same as iOS. iOS is the best system running on the ARM chip.
As for Intel, which represents the X86 processor camp, many years ago it tried every means to hope that X86 chips would run on mobile phones and tablets. It was indeed effective for a certain period of time: Lenovo and Asus have produced phones with Atom processors, and Onda, etc. Shenzhen hardware manufacturers have produced tablets with Atom processors.
However, only Core has passed the test of time, not Atom, oh yes, nor does the Quark series processors under Atom.
The Quark series processor is also a streamlined X86 processor with low power consumption and small area. Intel wants it to be used in the Internet of Things and wearable fields to achieve the X86 ubiquitous vision.
By 2020, chips in the Internet of Things and wearable fields will undoubtedly be the world of RISC-V, a more streamlined instruction set than ARM. The simpler and lighter the scene, the more skillful it will be. Tool of.
Needless to say, mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablets will naturally be the home of ARM processors in the past, present and future.
The only question is, what about desktop devices? The Mac camp is determined to revolutionize, what about Windows?
Former Mac director Jean-Louis Gassée also posted that MacBooks using ARM chips are more competitive, which will promote the Windows camp to accelerate support for ARM, and even break the Wintel alliance and Windows computer manufacturers switch to the ARM camp.
X86 last position
The Wintel alliance refers to the business alliance between Microsoft Windows and Intel in the computer field. In the 1970s, computers moved from the laboratory to everyone’s home, and the personal computer market was ignited. Apple, IBM, and Compaq were all famous at the time. Computer manufacturer.
The difference is that Apple chose the strategy of integrating software and hardware R&D and sales, while IBM did not choose self-developed processors and software operating systems in order to quickly launch computer products. At that time, Intel and Microsoft, which were still small companies, received IBM processor orders and operating system orders respectively.
In this way, IBM officially launched the IBM PC in 1981 and sold nearly 100,000 units in just one year. The IBM PC compatible method of manufacturing computers greatly lowered the production threshold of computers.
However, IBM was subject to antitrust restrictions at the time and could not restrict other companies from launching IBM PC compatible products. Many companies are seeing benefits in the personal computer market. The IBM PC compatible machine was launched soon after the picture was available.
As there are more and more IBM PC compatible machines on the market, and there are more and more third-party software vendors developing software for it, IBM PC compatible machines quickly become the most mainstream computer products on the market, and even Apple’s Macintosh can’t stop it.
IBM PC Compaq Portable
More and more IBM PC compatible computers have made competition more and more fierce, and at the same time, Microsoft and Intel, the two companies that provide core operating systems and processors for IBM PCs, have become the overlords of the computer industry. The two invisible alliances It also promotes the development of the computer industry, as the Andy-Beer law says:
What Andy gives, Bill takes away. (Bill takes away what Andy gives.)
Andy is Andy Grove, the founder of the original Intel Corporation, and Bill is naturally Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft Corporation. The general idea of this law is that Windows system software requires more and more hardware, which makes consumption There is a demand for higher-performance Intel processors, and Intel’s updated processors to improve performance can also allow Windows to expand its functions.
It is this invisible alliance that has allowed Intel and Microsoft to gain a firm foothold in the field of personal computers and become the industry leaders. System and processor updates have made computers a real consumable and promoted the development of the computer market.
Over time, Wintel has been used to refer to the combination of the two, and because the desktop processors manufactured by AMD and Intel all use the X86 architecture, the Windows + X86 architecture processors have become the absolute mainstream on the Windows PC side.
If ARM chips want to enter the Windows ecosystem and allow software vendors to actively compile software for ARM chips, they must break through the combination of Windows + X86 and prompt Microsoft and PC vendors to launch more PCs equipped with ARM processors, but this is not easy.
When we discuss whether the Windows camp will switch to ARM, this proposition may not be true.
As stated at the beginning:
The bosses think the iPad Pro is better than the laptop because the experience of replying to emails on the iPad Pro is much better than on the MacBook. Otherwise, why would the mail application in macOS Big Sur not be changed to that of iPadOS.
Creative workers think that the iPad Pro is an artifact, because the high refresh rate screen of the iPad Pro is paired with Apple’s carefully manufactured Apple Pencil, which makes people feel extremely comfortable in human-computer interaction, input and output.
Text workers feel that iPad Pro is not good, because iPadOS is not yet capable of their multi-tasking work, complex file management needs, and the keyboard that makes people feel uncomfortable when typing for a long time.
This scene logic is in line with the scene logic of RISC-V, ARM, and X86.
The defeat of X86 represented by Atom and Quark can also herald the victory of ARM.
The decisive factor is not that Intel is still working on 14nm++++++++++++, but something that only X86 could do. Now ARM is doing the same or even better. For example: 4K video editing was once considered a productivity-intensive thing.
Players who play “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey” or “Forza Horizon 4” on high-end gaming computers will be immersed in the beautiful 4K HDR picture quality.
Industrial Light & Magic, which does special effects for the “Star Wars” series and the “Avengers” series, uses Clarisse iFX, a complex and expensive 3D rendering software, and ARM-based computers may not be able to run for a long time.
But this kind of pyramid-shaped user distribution is not a problem for ARM processors, just as Tencent Games focuses on “Glory of the King” and “Peace Elite” instead of the WeGame platform. Tencent will not specialize in a game with a very high threshold to satisfy HardCore players, and the target users of ARM processor products are not Clarisse iFX users.
Direction of the Tide
If you want the article to end quickly, then you can take out an example that has been used countless times in the past: when the iPhone was released, an executive from Nokia, who was in full swing at the time, fell this fragile phone, indicating that it was not a concern. Everyone knows the rest.
But in fact, the situation may be different.
For a long time, the combination of Windows + X86 architecture processors will still be the mainstream. They have been developed on the Windows PC side for decades, and have been the mainstream of the consumer computer market during this period, with the largest market share.
Such a long period of operation has allowed Windows +X86 to enter more and more industries, publishing, Internet, manufacturing… As long as computer-related industries, almost all of them will have its presence. The entire industry is used to “Windows + X86”.
In May last year, Intel jointly launched the Athena Project (known as Intel Mobile Super Edition in China) in conjunction with upstream and downstream manufacturers of the PC industry chain, aiming to adapt to the development of the times and make efforts towards mobile office.
The more critical factor is that compared with the replacement frequency of mobile phones every year or two, the replacement frequency of computers is pitifully low: if it were not for this year’s epidemic, the demand for remote office and conferences has soared, and many people would still Continue to use the old computer with a full card.
This is another problem. The Windows camp tried ARM processor computers before Apple. It would be much earlier if the earlier Windows RT devices were also included (Windows CE is a different matter), but the speed of popularization will be greatly Slower than Apple’s ARM Mac.
The high probability of ARM Windows computers will not be another story of the rise of Android, but the tide of ARM invading the desktop will not stop.