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kscherer
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2020-04-29, 10:58

Honestly, I think we need to read between the lines. It's not that Xcode is coming to iPad, it's that Xcode is coming to ARM.
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Frank777
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2020-06-09, 11:13

Bloomberg says it's a go. Which we pretty much already knew.

Engadget uses the word that strikes fear into every Mac users' heart: Thinner.

Please Mr. Cook, don't make the iMac any thinner. Give us a user-replaceable hard drive.

And don't make the 16" MacBook Pro any thinner. Give us an SD card slot back.
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kscherer
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2020-06-09, 11:14

I was just posting.

Boy, howdy. AppleInsider has 4 articles this morning on ARM-based Macs, with the latest rumor that Apple is going to announce something at WWDC. This has been my prediction, because if Mac Ax is anywhere within the next year then they have to.

Honestly, I don't trust Bloomberg for any reason, but the rumors are just too hot at this point.

Pro chips

Quote:
In March 2020, Ampere debuted an ARM-based 80-core server processor called the Altra, which the firm projects will offer 2.11 times better power efficiency and up to 2.23 times better in raw performance than an Intel Xeon Platinum 8280.

For comparison's sake, the Xeon Platinum 8280 is a Cascade Lake chip released in the second quarter of 2019 that sports 28 cores, 2.7GHz base frequency and a 205W thermal rating. Used in a rack setting, Ampere even goes so far as to say a rack of Altra processors can offer up to 120% better raw performance than the 8280, ARS Technica reported
Bumpy road

Why?

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Last edited by kscherer : 2020-06-09 at 11:50.
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kscherer
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2020-06-09, 12:28

As far as Boot camp is concerned, yeah, that will likely be a [temporary] problem. Not only is Windows already running on ARM, but very few people rely on it. Thus, it isn't a terrible problem for Apple—Yes, I understand that it could be a problem for Mac Users who rely on Windows, but those numbers are shrinking rapidly. In 2006 or so, after Parallels first landed, I swear we did at least one Parallels install per week, and I remember it being more. Now, we are doing 2 or 3 per year at most. We don't even carry the software any longer. So, the options to the problem will be as follows: 1) Keep your old machine around and run Windows from it as long as you can; 2) Buy a cheap Windows machine—there are a million to choose from; 3) Abandon the Mac platform altogether; 4) wait for Apple/Microsoft to work things out, which comes back to option 1.

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Frank777
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2020-06-09, 13:50

It's highly unlikely that Apple has a long-term two-track chip strategy. It's Intel or A-chip.
(Although they'll probably keep a Boot Camp MacBook and Mini in the lineup for the foreseeable future.)

Which makes it really interesting that they released the Mac Pro last December, knowing that June was around the corner.

On the one hand, they can't obsolete a machine that customers have paid $60K for, just six months ago.

On the other, sending a signal that the A-Chip is a 'lesser' solution right upon its introduction is also problematic.

I really want to see how this is handled.
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kscherer
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2020-06-09, 14:28

It has to start at the low end of the portable spectrum (Mac Book). Price is low, performance is in-line, demand is high, users don't give a whip about server chips, "pro" compatibility is not a concern.

People who buy $60,000 workstations are not the first customer, nor are they going to be abandoned right away. 5 years from now? Yes. But, not right now.

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chucker
 
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2020-06-09, 15:21

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post
Bloomberg says it's a go. Which we pretty much already knew.
We did?

What we knew is that Mark Gurman thinks it's a go, and you'd be stunned who wrote this new article!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post
Engadget uses the word that strikes fear into every Mac users' heart: Thinner.

Please Mr. Cook, don't make the iMac any thinner. Give us a user-replaceable hard drive.
User-replaceable internal hard drives aren't coming back, and are a lot less useful than they used to be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post
And don't make the 16" MacBook Pro any thinner. Give us an SD card slot back.
I think I might like it if Apple branches out and makes an additional MacBook variant that doesn't need to be so thin.
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chucker
 
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2020-06-09, 15:24

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
Quote:
In March 2020, Ampere debuted an ARM-based 80-core server processor called the Altra, which the firm projects will offer 2.11 times better power efficiency and up to 2.23 times better in raw performance than an Intel Xeon Platinum 8280.

For comparison's sake, the Xeon Platinum 8280 is a Cascade Lake chip released in the second quarter of 2019 that sports 28 cores, 2.7GHz base frequency and a 205W thermal rating. Used in a rack setting, Ampere even goes so far as to say a rack of Altra processors can offer up to 120% better raw performance than the 8280, ARS Technica reported
I think Apple's chips are impressive, but both Gurman and now AppleInsider harp on this "ARM can fit more cores than Intel" thing and… uh… it's kind of not a useful analogy.

For starters, I'm not sure if the implication is supposed to be that Intel can't do this many cores; if so, that's untrue. Intel has done many-core systems as well, known as Xeon Phi.

But also, more cores doesn't equal more performance for most use cases. 80 cores in a Mac is pretty worthless. It's kind of interesting for niche applications on a server, but that's hardly what Apple sells to its customers.
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kscherer
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2020-06-09, 15:30

Of course. I think it is more a demonstration of the fact that ARM performance is catching up to and/or surpassing Intel in many ways. I posted that quote because there are many folks who do not believe that ARM is ready for pro machines due to a lack of performance. But, the performance is there or will be there in quick fashion. Once the puzzle is solved in the lower end of the consumer spectrum, it will be tackled and solved in the pro space as well. It's just a matter of time, and underestimating ARM—and Apple's custom implementations—will be bad for business.

Also, keep in mind that Apple is currently selling a system with 28 cores not much different from the Intel chip in the quote.

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chucker
 
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2020-06-09, 16:49

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
Of course. I think it is more a demonstration of the fact that ARM performance is catching up to and/or surpassing Intel in many ways.
Kind of, yes.

(Apple seems to be well ahead of Intel on single-core performance, especially once you factor in similar TDPs. On multi-core, it's hard to say, because Apple doesn't really offer models with a comparable amount of cores. They do have eight-core CPUs, but half of those operate at low power.)

I just think bringing up core count without introducing a lot of context is journalistically lazy, and frankly, my guess is it's just uninformed. This isn't like "look, this one has more jiggahertz"; it's actually worse: all else being equal, a CPU with a higher clock rate will inevitably run faster, but all else being equal, a CPU with more core will at some point have near-zero returns. An 80-core CPU is way, way beyond that threshold for almost all use cases, at least the way we write software today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
I posted that quote because there are many folks who do not believe that ARM is ready for pro machines due to a lack of performance. But, the performance is there or will be there in quick fashion. Once the puzzle is solved in the lower end of the consumer spectrum, it will be tackled and solved in the pro space as well. It's just a matter of time, and underestimating ARM—and Apple's custom implementations—will be bad for business.
Yeah, fair enough.

I'm not too worried about Apple's ability to scale this up. They would have a ton of thermal headroom they could add.

Suppose their iPad Pro runs at a TDP equivalent of about 7W. Then take the 10W 2020 MacBook Air. The iPad scores 1118 single and 4622 multi, and the top-of-the-line Air at 1120 and 2904. So basically identical single-core scores even though the Air (presumably) has more thermal headroom, and even though the Pro's CPU is almost two years older. Multi-core is more interesting: the iPad does 59% better, yes, but it also has twice the cores. Now, as I said above, Apple's "Fusion" approach (similar to ARM's big.LITTLE, and apparently something Intel is considering for Alder Lake a year or two from now) means that not all cores are the same. What we're effectively seeing is that the Air, at four cores, gets a speedup of about 2.59 (instead of a theoretical maximum of 4) — and the iPad, at "eight", of 4.13 (instead of 8). So I don't think Apple shuts those cores down entirely, making this a bit hard to compare, unfortunately. But, not a great look for Intel.

And that's with the A12X. Take the A13 (which is also almost a year old by this point!), and you get a single-core score that beats any Mac. All of them. Even the eight-core 2019 iMac is 6.6% slower.

Given nicer thermals, they can almost certainly add a few more cores if they think that's useful. I'm not sure they really need to. They might change the Air to have 2+2 (Fusion) and 4+4 CPU configurations, instead of the current 2 and 4 configs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
Also, keep in mind that Apple is currently selling a system with 28 cores not much different from the Intel chip in the quote.
True, but I think the Mac Pro would be a worse machine (for most of its buyers) with 80 instead of 28 cores. And I think the article gives the opposite impression.
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PB PM
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2020-06-10, 14:38

Anandtech recently looked at desktop work station ARM chips, which are more powerful than Ax chips by far, and they are no match for the i7/i9 and workstation Xeon chips from Intel. Putting ARM in the Mac Pro would have been foolish. The ARM Macs are going to be entry level systems, maybe mid-range at best for the first few years if not longer.
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chucker
 
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2020-06-10, 14:53

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
Anandtech recently looked at desktop work station ARM chips, which are more powerful than Ax chips by far, and they are no match for the i7/i9 and workstation Xeon chips from Intel. Putting ARM in the Mac Pro would have been foolish. The ARM Macs are going to be entry level systems, maybe mid-range at best for the first few years if not longer.
I think they'll start at the entry level indeed, but for additional reasons. Higher-end stuff has more likelihood of x86-specific requirements. Like, say, running Windows.

As for competing against Intel, keep in mind that a tiny iPhone with a TDP of just a few watts already has better single-core performance than a 95W iMac CPU, or, for that matter, a 205W Mac Pro CPU. For short bursts, sure, but just imagine what Apple could do with a remotely similar thermal budget.

You're probably referring to the eMag 8180. Apple's Ax chips play in a different league. Just because it's both ARM doesn't mean the design is similar. It's just an ISA.
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PB PM
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2020-06-10, 19:01

We don’t know how tests, like Geekbench, which many Apple users point to when comparing x86 to Ax ARM, scale across platforms (mobile vs desktop), so using numbers like that is meaningless. Apple is often putting really low end chips, for the given price point, so I don’t doubt that the Ax chips are faster than the dual or quad core i3 or i5 in entry level Macs. Until we see apples to apples comparisons, no pun intended, of apps running on the same OS there is no way to be sure which really is faster. I highly doubt the Ax is bettering 4+GHz 95-105w desktop x86 chips, even if for a few seconds. Bettering the 25-45W parts, very well could be.

Last edited by PB PM : 2020-06-10 at 19:19.
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drewprops
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2020-06-10, 22:39

I don't follow most of this conversation, but I do walk away from it with a feeling of contentment that my next Intel MBP won't be quickly outmoded.


...
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chucker
 
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2020-06-11, 03:12

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
We don’t know how tests, like Geekbench, which many Apple users point to when comparing x86 to Ax ARM, scale across platforms (mobile vs desktop), so using numbers like that is meaningless.
My one objection to Geekbench is that it doesn't test long-term usage well. An iMac Pro is slower in many ways than a Coffee Lake 2019 iMac, but will likely perform better given a task that takes many minutes or several hours.

Likewise, Apple can't sustain its high single-thread performance for that long either. They don't really have to, on a phone, but the big question mark is what happens on a Mac. It'll almost certainly be sustained for longer, for obvious thermal differences, but how much longer, we don't know.

Platforms, though? It tests common computational tasks. The platform is irrelevant. The result matters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
Apple is often putting really low end chips, for the given price point, so I don’t doubt that the Ax chips are faster than the dual or quad core i3 or i5 in entry level Macs.
Huh? Apple never uses Celeron or Pentium Chips. They sometimes use i3s. I was bringing up the iMac and Mac Pro. Those aren't "really low end chips". Apple could go to Xeon-SP if they wanted to go even higher-end, but given the TDP, they're pretty much the highest end Intel has to offer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
Until we see apples to apples comparisons, no pun intended, of apps running on the same OS there is no way to be sure which really is faster. I highly doubt the Ax is bettering 4+GHz 95-105w desktop x86 chips, even if for a few seconds. Bettering the 25-45W parts, very well could be.
On a single thread? Yes, Apple is absolutely beating Intel. OTOH, Intel has more cores to offer.

The tide may turn once Intel can move that segment over to Ice Lake / Tiger Lake, but right now, their 14nm Coffee Lake, Comet Lake, etc. CPUs compare very poorly against Apple.
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turtle
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2020-06-11, 08:42

Since Ken seems to think Boot Camp and ARM go in here I'll talk about it here.

As long as VMWare Fusion works on ARM and I can still work Windows I'll be happy. My job makes me use Windows even though I would rather use a Mac. So I use my MBP and Fusion Pro to work.

I'm sure VMWare will be able to translate from one to the other but the really concern would be at what performance cost. Thankfully I'm not gaming or anything graphics heavy with the work VM, just killing all the RAM with my browser tabs and such.

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kscherer
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2020-06-11, 10:58

Quote:
Originally Posted by turtle View Post
Since Ken seems to think Boot Camp and ARM go in here I'll talk about it here.
In the context of Windows running on ARM Macs? You bet your britches it goes in here!

I think there will be a solution, although it may be a while in coming. This is one of the key reasons Apple will start with a MacBook (or something like it). I think they learned their lesson in disrupting the "pro" space with the trash can. They will ease into this while working out the high-volume demand for low-end Mac laptops, i.e. MacBook.

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turtle
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2020-06-11, 12:26

One can hope but maybe we are done with "thinner" and back to productive. Who knows. Either way, I need to be able to do my PC on a Mac otherwise I'm going to really struggle with how to do my day job... as a Windows Admin.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
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PB PM
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2020-06-11, 15:02

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
Huh? Apple never uses Celeron or Pentium Chips. They sometimes use i3s. I was bringing up the iMac and Mac Pro. Those aren't "really low end chips". Apple could go to Xeon-SP if they wanted to go even higher-end, but given the TDP, they're pretty much the highest end Intel has to offer.
Never said they did, I said entry level i3 and i5 chips. Have you actually look at what the entry level Macs specs are? The MacBook, MacBook Pro (13”) and iMacs all start with dual core i3 chips.
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kscherer
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2020-06-11, 15:16

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
The MacBook, MacBook Pro (13”) and iMacs all start with dual core i3 chips.
13" MacBook Pro entry models use 1.4GHz quad-core i5's, entry level HD iMacs use 2.3GHz dual-core i5's, and entry Retina models use 3.6GHz quad-core i3.

The entry 13" MacBook Air uses a dual-core i3 at 1.1GHz.

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Last edited by kscherer : 2020-06-12 at 10:51. Reason: added "entry" to last sentence be more clear.
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PB PM
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2020-06-11, 20:01

That what I get for quickly glancing at the end of lunch, you see what you want to see, and not whats there.
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chucker
 
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2020-06-12, 02:01

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
Never said they did, I said entry level i3 and i5 chips. Have you actually look at what the entry level Macs specs are? The MacBook, MacBook Pro (13”) and iMacs all start with dual core i3 chips.
I was mostly responding to "Apple is often putting really low end chips, for the given price point", to be clear.
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kscherer
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2020-06-12, 10:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
That what I get for quickly glancing at the end of lunch, you see what you want to see, and not whats there.
Saul Goodman!

If I could get me a nickel for every time I've misquoted/misstated/beenwrong I'd bee worth at least 5 bucks!
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kscherer
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2020-06-12, 13:28

This is a well written article that I sourced from Macrumors.

Also, what are the odds that Apple uses the current "Ax" naming structure. Wouldn't it make more sense to differentiate the Mac versions of these chips? Say, Axx? So, perhaps the A100, or A140, or A14m?

Or DangerField X14-AssKicker1000?

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Last edited by kscherer : 2020-06-12 at 14:18.
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chucker
 
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2020-06-12, 14:56

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
Also, what are the odds that Apple uses the current "Ax" naming structure. Wouldn't it make more sense to differentiate the Mac versions of these chips? Say, Axx? So, perhaps the A100, or A140, or A14m?
I feel like A14M makes the most sense, next to A14X for iPad and A14 for iPhone. It could also just be A14X, if the specs for the iPad Pro at the time are similar enough to what they need for Macs. (Obviously an untenable strategy for, say, iMac Pro.)

M14 seems obvious, but they already previously used M* for the motion coprocessor. Doesn't mean they won't reuse it differently, though.
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kscherer
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2020-06-12, 15:31

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
It could also just be A14X, if the specs for the iPad Pro at the time are similar enough to what they need for Macs. (Obviously an untenable strategy for, say, iMac Pro.)
The guy in the article I linked seems to think that Apple is working on a desktop-class chip based on the A14X.

Quote:
I expect this will come in the form of the previously-retired 12” MacBook. There are rumors that Apple is still working internally to perfect the infamous Butterfly keyboard, and there are also signs that Apple is developing an A14x based processors [sic] with 8-12 cores designed specifically for use as the primary processor in a Mac. It makes sense that this model could see the return of the Butterfly keyboard, considering how thin and light it is intended to be, and using an A14x processor would make it will be [sic] a very capable, very portable machine, and should give customers a good taste of what is to come.
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Frank777
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2020-06-12, 19:17

The butterfly keyboard needs to die. So say we all.

---

The rational person in me says the MacBook and Mini are the easiest and prime candidates to be first in the A-chip transition.

The true believer in me says that a new iMac is obviously being dropped at or near the WWDC keynote.
And since a new iMac will take up the media spotlight after it is unveiled, it must have the Ax chip inside. Even if it doesn't actually ship for months.
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Bryson
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2020-06-12, 21:15

Isn’t the Butterfly Keyboard already dead? I don’t think they sell a model with it any more, do they?
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chucker
 
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2020-06-13, 06:11

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryson View Post
Isn’t the Butterfly Keyboard already dead? I don’t think they sell a model with it any more, do they?
Correct.

But it does seem like the reliability has been much improved with the latest (early 2019) version, and maybe the one they'll ship in this hypothetical one will be yet another revision.

And also, I think the big issue with the butterfly, reliability aside, was the hubris to think that just because low travel makes sense for a small-form-factor laptop that it's also a good fit for a 15/16-inch workhorse. It's not. Even with perfect reliability, someone on a MacBook Pro just tends to have different requirements.

So, if this new thing brings back the MacBook (I hope not, because they'll be back to a stupidly confusing line-up) or replaces the Air, it's plausible to me that they can make the keyboard a little thinner again.
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Brave Ulysses
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2020-06-14, 01:14

This isn’t just for entry level macs. I suspect Apple will make a big splash with an ARM iMac that crushes the previous intel generation.
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