Apple’s reported gains of 2.3x to 3.9x in multi-threaded workloads against the quad-core i7-powered MacBook Air are quite impressive, though we are talking about applications that have presumably been compiled and optimized for MacOS on Arm. But if you’re a Mac user, that’s exactly what you want – developer support for a new architecture that offers great performance, and doesn’t bog down the system with a translation layer like Rosetta from the PPC/Intel transition (Rosetta 2 was also introduced today).
Ultimately this first step in Apple’s journey towards total vertical integration has implications beyond a platform change for a computer business with a small market share. Don’t laugh, but Windows already runs on Arm processors and a transition on the PC side is also possible. Of course application support would be the major hurdle for widespread adoption of Windows on Arm – something Apple’s transition could help to do, if only by popularizing the Arm platform in low-power notebooks.
Love or hate them, Apple is influential in the laptop space, and we could be seeing the first step away from x86 processors across the industry. And this obviously affects Intel more than anyone else. AMD processors are not available in any Apple computer, something that seemed like a miss when the newest Mac Pro was announced, but Intel has obviously been a part of every Macintosh sold since the transition from PowerPC began in 2006.