Apple has said it will design its own CPU for future PCs at WWDC 2020 last month. It also hinted that it will use Arm architecture rather than Intel x86.
This isn’t an unfamiliar sight. Apple chose x86 over IBM PowerPC back in 2005. And before PowerPC it was Motorola’s CPU.
Cupertino isn’t the only one showing such migrations. Samsung has applied Arm architecture for its Galaxy Book S, and so did Microsoft for its Surface Pro X. Lenovo and HP has also launched goods using Arm. They use Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 or 8Cx. Microsoft slightly tuned the 8Cx.
There are more and more non-x86 CPUs in the PC market.
PC shipment has been in decline since 2011 __ COVID-19 pandemic has increased PC shipment due to the rise of remote work, but this upward curve won’t be large. This is mostly due to lowered demand for enterprise PCs.
Notebook accounts for over half of PCs and they still rely on LAN rather than wireless networks. Most of them don’t have modem chips. But PCs made with Arm architecture supports 4G LTE connection. Expanding to PCs is a realistic goal for carriers that need more subscribers and Arm that needs to expand outside of smartphones.
Compatibility is crucial in x86 v Arm architecture debate. But if Apple provides an emulator like it did when it moved to Intel CPU from IBM’s, this problem gets solved. Currently, 64bit software isn’t available in Windows but Microsoft is planning an upgrade so this will be resolved in time. It won’t satisfy all at once, but it will attract users steadily.
Companies are choosing Arm architecture despite these in conveniences because they want a sure thing. Intel x86 is dominate in the enterprise space. There are software that works only in enterprise platforms like the Intel vPro. Apple’s X Server failed to challenge this, and afterwards the company focused on the consumer space. Enterprise market has a high entry barrier. That is why some are using x86 architecture but uses AMD CPU over Intel’s.
This is the strength of Arm architecture. It is lower power and efficient __ aimed at mobile devices. In smartphones the OS is dominated by iOS and Android but Notebook is a free for all.
Performance was a big issue of Arm architecture in the past. Comparatively, x86 had great performance but low battery life. Apple’s selection of Arm shows that performance has increased sufficiently for wider adoption. It won’t replace x86 completely, but it will be a great alternative. Microsoft’s application of Arm architecture to Surface Pro X was for similar reasons. It won’t cede an inch to Apple and Google in the PC space.
Arm architecture has risen as an alternative in the PC CPU space is thanks to its sufficient performance and consumer-oriented approach. It will be a victory for the architecture if it can secure some portion of the market over x86.