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Apple’s for years been rumored to have been secretly developing its own desktop chips, based on iPhone and iPad processors, to ditch Intel from Macs. Bloomberg in a new report this morning claims that the tech giant is going to announce the first in-house designed main processors for Macs at the upcoming virtual WWDC event, which kicks off June 22.

Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg:

Unveiling the initiative, codenamed Kalamata, at the event would give outside developers time to adjust before new Macs roll out in 2023. Since the hardware transition is still months away, the timing of the announcement could change.

The new processors will be based on the same technology used in Apple-designed iPhone and iPad chips. However, future Macs will still run the macOS operating system rather than the iOS software on mobile devices from the company.

Apple’s exciting semiconductor foundry TSMC will be reportedly churning out Apple’s desktop chips that are expected to be fabbed on TSMC’s cutting-edge five-nanometer process technology (its current mobile chips are manufacturing on TSMC’s seven-nanometer process).

According to Gurman, Apple plans to eventually transition the entire Mac lineup to custom processors, “including the priciest desktop computers,” which would imply the Mac Pro. That is something we haven’t heard before as Apple was largely expected to use its own chips in Mac notebooks and consumer desktop models, but not in the Mac Pro.

Inside Apple, tests of new Macs with the ARM-based chips have shown sizable improvements over Intel-powered versions, specifically in graphics performance and apps using artificial intelligence. Apple’s processors are also more power-efficient than Intel’s, which may mean thinner and lighter Mac laptops in the future.

Matching Intel’s performance in terms of workstation chips should also permit Apple to maintain a single macOS code base vs. maintaining two code bases, one powering ARM-ed Macs and the other reserved for its most powerful Intel-based models like the Mac Pro.

Apple is expected to employ the same approach that made its mobile chips the envy of the industry. That means squeezing the CPU and GPU cores, the Neural engine for machine learning, the RAM and any co-processors (such as the Secure Enclave cryptographic coprocessor and the power-sipping motion coprocessor) onto a single semiconductor die.

Gurman again:

Apple is working on at least three of its own Mac processors, with the first based on the A14 processor in the next iPhone. In addition to the main central processing unit, there will be a graphics processing unit and a Neural Engine for handling machine learning.

Macs already use specialized Apple-designed chips for things like securing your fingerprint and Apple Pay data, as well as for on-the-fly disk encryption and secure boot capabilities.

As for the iPhone and iPad chips, these pack in custom CPU cores based on the ARM instruction set, Apple’s custom GPU and more. Intel’s chips are not very power friendly — that’s why Intel is largely absent from the mobile market — and its roadmap is increasingly unreliable.

From the report:

Apple’s chip-development group, led by Johny Srouji, decided to make the switch after Intel’s annual chip performance gains slowed. Apple engineers worried that sticking to Intel’s road map would delay or derail some future Macs.

Custom chips could help Apple overcome these issues in one fell swoop.

Apple has been through these CPU transitions twice in its history. In the early 1990s, it ditched Motorola chips for PowerPC ones. Once PowerPC technology ran its course (they couldn’t produce power efficient processors that Apple needed for notebooks), the company at the 2005 WWDC announced a switch to Intel chips.

First Intel-based Macs started arriving in January 2006.

By WWDC 2007, all of the Macs in the lineup would feature Intel chips, finalizing the transition.

That said, the Bloomberg report indicates this is something Apple has probably been developing in secrecy for years now — again, similar to how the company surprised the WWDC 2005 attendees by announcing that its engineers had been secretly developing major macOS updates for both Intel and PowerPC chips for five consecutive years.

The Apple chip project has been in the works for several years and is considered one of the company’s most secretive efforts. In 2023, Apple successfully developed a Mac chip based on the iPad Pro’s processor for internal testing, giving the company confidence it could announce such a shift this year.

For what it’s worth, reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in March of this year predicted that first Mac computers based on custom processors would be arriving in in late 2023 or early 2023.

If these rumored ARM-based Mac in fact yield faster processing performance, beefier graphics and significantly longer battery life, then I’m all for this switch.

How about you?

You're reading Bloomberg: Apple To Announce Its Own Desktop Chips Ahead Of First Arm

Arm Chips Are The Next Revolution In The Pc World

Apple has begun its official, though not yet complete, shift away from Intel CPUs to ARM chips as of the end of 2023. It’s a little revolution in the consumer computer space that has only served to support Qualcomm’s earlier initiatives and highlight the fact that RISC chips are becoming more popular as a result of smartphones’ spread.

By 2026, in four years, half of the cloud processors will be based on an ARM chip, and 30% of PCs will be running an ARM processor, according to Steve Brazier, CEO of market research firm Canalys.

Apple is leading the way

Thanks in large part to Apple and its Macs, whose sales look to be surviving the global recession and even declining in sales, ARM chips control approximately 15% in the third quarter of this year, according to reports, which is a large percentage of the PC industry.

According to Canalys, Apple currently sells approximately 100% ARM-based Macs. For instance, the Mac Pro and the most expensive Mac mini still use Intel processors. According to IDC, the Cupertino company, which ranked behind Lenovo, HP, and Dell in terms of market share for the third quarter of 2023, controlled about 13.5% of the PC market with its Apple Silicon Macs. Dell came in third with 16.1%. However, this fourth place conceals two positive developments for Apple. On the one hand, the company sold 10.06 million more Macs in the third quarter of 2023 than it did in the corresponding quarter of 2023. The Californian company only offers high-end products, so it can produce much more value with fewer sales.

The Windows-based PC world will soon join ARM chips

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While ARM-powered Macs are the most notable and intriguing PCs in terms of power, ARM-powered Chromebooks are also available on the market, albeit less well-liked.

The CEO of Canalys is certain that ARM will continue to grow. Especially if major PC OEMs, who are currently mostly committed to AMD and Intel, switch to ARM processors.

An important initial step in this direction is Microsoft’s initiative. To make it easier for developers to create Windows applications for ARM-based devices. The recent announcements from Qualcomm should also give the PC sector a breath of fresh air.

Qualcomm’s ARM chips for PC

The San Diego business just revealed the ARM chip for PC’s future. Only Oryon, the chip that will be the main rival to the M1 and M2, has been introduced thus far. But it might be the tool that Windows PCs running on ARM have been waiting for. To be able to counteract Apple Macs’ two-year-old success.

We only knew one name of the chip we were waiting for: Oryon. Qualcomm finally absorbed the ideas for the cores formerly known as Phoenix to create Oryon. Its new in-house high-powered CPU core, after purchasing Nuvia for $1.4 billion in 2023.

Even though Qualcomm has invested in Windows PCs for more than five years. It will be some time before the company releases information about its final chips. For how long? Several months, as the manufacturer states that the chip will be included in products that should be made available “in the second half of 2023”. Thus, 2024 may be the year of “the switchover and acceleration of the deployment of ARM in PCs,” in the words of Kedar Kondap, Qualcomm’s general manager of PC chips and gaming.

Is Microsoft Planning Its First

With the economy in the tank and other major firms planning massive cutbacks, rumors have been swirling for several weeks that Microsoft plans big layoffs of its own to be announced on or about Jan. 15.

How big? As much as 10 to 17 percent of the company’s employees, if you believe the buzz.

If true, the cuts would be the first “official” layoffs in Microsoft’s history — blunting a point that the company has always pointed to as a matter of pride.

Despite one Web site’s claims that the layoffs are now “fact,” however, no one seems to be able to substantiate the rumors. That may make for a lot of Microsoft employees lying awake at night after tonight’s champagne wears off.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) officials were mum on the rumors.

Yet this week, blog site Fudzilla proclaimed that the rumors are true.

“The rumor that Microsoft was set to lay off people on January 15th, 2009 is no longer a rumor but a fact,” a Fudzilla post said on Dec. 30. “Staff at Microsoft have been informed that the company is readying major layoffs to its worldwide operations and it’s not a small cut, either,” the post continued.

One problem is that, at this point, there is no way to verify whether layoffs will be announced or not. Neither does anyone seem to have any support so far for the rumors that cuts at Microsoft could range between 10 percent and 17 percent of the software titan’s titanic work force, which currently is slightly more than 91,000 people worldwide, according to Microsoft’s site. Fudzilla said there will be as many as 15,000 pink slips handed out, but didn’t quote anyone — not even anonymously — providing any verification.

And, if staff had been informed on a companywide basis as the blog suggests, securities laws would typically require Microsoft to publicly disclose that information within 24 hours as a material fact that could affect the company’s stock price.

For that reason, Rob Enderle, an industry analyst with the Enderle Group, doubts that layoffs have been communicated to employees en masse — at least, not yet.

Layoffs “wouldn’t surprise me,” Enderle told chúng tôi “But I haven’t heard anything about it.”

Good timing?

To some observers, the week of Jan. 15 might seem like a good time to announce layoffs. The date falls between next week’s Consumer Electronics Show, where CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to announce the beginning of the Windows 7 public beta, and Microsoft’s quarterly earnings call with analysts on Jan. 22.

The worldwide economic slowdown — and its effect on customer spending — has IT vendors scrambling. While some are persevering and sussing out new areas of business, others are bearing the full brunt of the downturn.

“Around the time of the earnings [call] is when you want to make an announcement like that,” Enderle told chúng tôi He added that Microsoft would not be smart to reveal worker cuts before the Windows 7 public beta starts, because that would take some of the shine off the pending replacement for Windows Vista.

Two former senior Microsoft development managers, who are still well plugged-in at the firm, said they had not heard anything from inside the company that might point to massive layoffs, but could not rule it out either.

They both suggested, though, that Microsoft is likely to not call whatever it does a “layoff.”

Instead, such an announcement might be couched in euphemisms framing the story as the year-end period when Microsoft managers traditionally evaluate their employees for raises and retention, as well as plan what have become nearly annual company reorganizations.

Google’s Own Upcoming Ai Chatbot Draws From The Power Of Its Search Engine

Google announced on Monday that it is launching an AI-powered chatbot it’s calling Bard “in the coming weeks.” While this might look like a response to ChatGPT—OpenAI’s AI-powered chatbot that has been getting a lot of attention since it launched late last year—the reality is that Google has been developing AI tools for more than six years. And although these tools have not been previously made available to the public, now, that might start to change. 

In the blog post announcing Bard, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai writes that Google has been developing an “experimental conversational AI service” powered by its Language Model for Dialogue Applications or LaMDA. (That’s the AI model that one Google engineer tried to claim was sentient last summer.) Bard aims to “combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of [Google’s] large language models” by drawing from information around the web and presenting it in fresh, easy to understand ways. 

Pichai gives a few examples for how Bard can be used, such as getting ideas to help plan a friend’s baby shower, comparing two Oscar nominated movies, or getting suggestions for what new discoveries by the James Webb Space Telescope to discuss with a 9-year-old. 

While Bard is only available to “trusted testers” right now, it is due to roll out to the general public over the next few weeks. Google has used its lightweight model version of LaMDA, which requires less computing power to operate, to allow it to serve more users, and thus get more feedback. Here at PopSci, we will jump in and try it out as soon as we get the chance. 

Of course, Google’s end-goal is to use AI to improve its most important product: its search engine. In the blog post, Pichai highlights some of the AI tools it’s already using—including BERT and MUM—that help it understand the intricacies of human language. During the COVID pandemic, MUM, for example, was able to categorize over 800 possible names for 17 different vaccines in 50 different languages so Google could provide the most important and accurate health information. 

Crucially, Pichai says that the way people use Google search is changing. “When people think of Google, they often think of turning to us for quick factual answers, like ‘how many keys does a piano have?’ But increasingly, people are turning to Google for deeper insights and understanding—like, ‘is the piano or guitar easier to learn, and how much practice does each need?’”

He sees Google’s latest AI technologies, like LaMDA and PaLM, as an opportunity to “deepen our understanding of information and turn it into useful knowledge more efficiently.” When faced with more complex questions where there is no one right answer, it can pull in different sources of information and present them in a logical way. According to Pichai, we will soon see AI-powered features in search that “distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats, so you can quickly understand the big picture and learn more from the web.”

Once or twice in the blog post, you get a sense that Pichai is perhaps frustrated with OpenAI’s prominence. While never name checking OpenAI or ChatGPT directly, he links to Google’s Transformer research project, calling it “field-defining” and “the basis of many of the generative AI applications you’re starting to see today,” which is entirely true. The “T” in ChatGPT and GPT-3 stands for Transformer; both rely heavily on research published by Google’s AI teams. But despite its research successes, Google isn’t the company with the widely discussed AI chatbot today. Maybe Bard’s presence will change that.

Intel Challenges Arm With New Quark Chips For Wearables; Shows Off Bay Trail, Broadwell

Yes, Intel has plans for wearable computing.

Intel used its Intel Developer Forum here on Tuesday to launch the Quark family of devices, a synthesizable family of embedded devices designed for embedded applications like industrial designs and wearable computing, which Intel executives said will be built by third-party partners, not Intel itself.

The Intel Developer Forum was the first for Intel’s new chief executive, Brian Krzanich, who was named to the top spot this past June. Renee James, who was a frequent speaker as Intel’s software chief, was named president at the same time.

“Our strategy is really pretty simple: we plan to lead in every segment of computing,” Krzanich said, including, servers, PCs, tablets, phones, and beyond to wearables, he said.

Some of the tablets and convertibles Intel showed off that use (or will use) Intel silicon.

Krzanich’s job is to oversee the transition between Intel’s traditional strengths in the PC and server business, and to a slightly lesser extent, in the mobile PC market as well. Analysts have predicted that the PC will slowly decline, however, as consumers turn to ultraportable devices: two-in-one ultraportable machines, true tablets, and smartphones.

Perhaps telling is that an agenda Intel provided to reporters before the start of the show didn’t include any press conferences specifically focusing on Intel’s Core PC microprocessors. Instead, Intel’s emphasis is on the datacenter, where the vast majority of servers ship with Intel’s Xeon inside, and on a new Atom chip code-named Bay Trail for tablets one of a family of “Silvermont” chips aimed at everything from microservers to, eventually, in-car entertainment systems.

Beyond the PC

Krzanich began by talking about the data center, which Intel attacked last week with its Avoton and Rangeley chips, both Atom based processors designed for the datacenter. Krzanich said that Intel would announce the Xeon Z5, the more traditional “Big Iron” silicon that powers most of the world’s servers. For her part, James said that applications like personal healthcare will require massive amounts of data; for example, one person’s genome requires a petabyte of data. But institutions like the Knight Institute have found success in tailoring cancer treatments to specific genetic factors, and Intel fellow Eric Dishman appeared on stage to tell the audience that genomic sequencing of his cancer had allowed his doctors to successfully treat it.

“So yes, we have been working on wearables,” Krzanich confirmed.

Intel announced the Quark family of silicon, the smallest system on a chip Intel has ever produced, Kranich said: one-fifth the size of the Atom and operating at one-tenth the power. It is fully synthesizable, and designed for the Internet of things.  The Quark X1000 will be the first of the lineup.

Intel has reference designs for industrial boards, to connect to machines, back to the Internet. SInce the device is synthesizeable, customers can put their own logic and peripherals into the design. They won’t be able to tweak the core design, however, just attach their own logic at “attach points” integrated into the silicon.

Next up: Intel’s Bay Trail

That doesn’t mean that Intel ignored the PC.

Mini Windows tablets like this Toshiba model will use low-power Atom chips.

Krzanich also showed off future Broadwell-based silicon, already powering a PC. Broadwell, which will shift Intel’s Core processors to 14-nm manufacturing, will cut their power by 30 percent on today’s Core processors. “It’s here, it’s working, and we’ll be shipping by the end of the year,” Krzanich said of the chips themselves. (PCs using Broadwell will ship in 2014, he said.)

Krzanich said that Intel’s silicon will be in 60 “two-in-ones” or convertible tablets, by the end of the year, with prices as low as $400. And Krzanich ent a step further, saying that Atom-based tablets could be priced less than $100.

Not much in phones, yet

Intel’s eventual target is the smartphone.

Intel has tried to push into phones with the “Clover Trail+” Atom chip that it released last year. But save for the Lenovo K900, a phone released for the Chinese market, Intel has had little success. In part, that’s because Intel is still developing the collection of technologies needed to design an integrated system-on-a-chip that OEMs demand, as it saves board space and power. Intel has announced multi-mode LTE technology that should help it penetrate worldwide markets, but has yet to integrate it with its Atom silicon.

Intel said it had 22-nm silicon for phones, however, and James characterized its phone processors as more powerful than a Pentium 4.

For her part, James has led an often-overlooked portion of Intel’s business: software and tools, specifically the embedded OS. One of those has been Tizen, the open-source phone OS championed by both Intel and Samsung. Neither, however, has pushed Tizen much past the drawing board, and James didn’t mention it.

Amd Says More Windows 8 Tablets With Its Chips Coming

Advanced Micro Devices hopes to brush off a slow start to compete against ARM and Intel in the Windows 8 tablet market through new customer announcements and future chips.

The company will announce between six to 10 tablets for its Z-60 tablet chip, which is code-named Hondo and was announced earlier this month, said John Taylor, director of marketing at AMD. The new tablets will be announced by January next year, around the time of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where some of the top electronics makers show off their latest wares.

Currently only one tablet, Fujitsu’s Stylistic Q572, has been introduced with the dual-core Z-60 chip. The Windows 8 tablet has a 10-inch screen, two cameras, a removable battery and weighs 748 grams, which is heavier than many of the Windows 8 tablets, which weigh between 500 grams and 700 grams. The tablet’s price is 90,800 yen (US$1,136), and will become available at the end of November.

AMD is also looking forward to the new tablet chips, Kabini and Tamesh, which will have between two and four CPU cores and next-generation graphics cores. The new chips will be released next year and bring better performance and battery life to tablets. Earlier this year the company ripped up its old chip roadmap and introduced a new strategy for tablet, server and PC chips. Hondo is based on the company’s old chip roadmap, but the newer tablet chips next year will have the faster and more power-efficient Jaguar CPU core, which is part of the new chip roadmap.

AMD has made the tablet market one of its top priorities as it tries to move away from a heavy reliance on the slumping PC business. AMD last year introduced the Z-01 tablet chip, which failed. The lack of a tablet strategy was one of the reasons former AMD CEO Dirk Meyer resigned in early 2011.

Former Lenovo exec Rory Read was appointed AMD’s CEO in August last year, and the company has put together a new management team and chip roadmap. But AMD continues to struggle, with the company last week announcing that it would lay off 1,800 employees as part of a restructuring plan. The company also recorded revenue decline in the most recent fiscal quarter on a challenging economy and weak demand for its products.

AMD has to face off with both ARM and Intel as it tries to get in the tablet market, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. Microsoft is unveiling Windows 8 for x86 chips, which provides an avenue for AMD to compete, McCarron said. Microsoft is providing Windows RT for ARM processors.

The tablet market has evolved around ARM, and the x86 chips from companies like Intel and AMD have been much slower on adoption. The iPad and other Android tablets run on ARM processors, and Microsoft has already announced the $499 Surface RT tablet, which is based on a quad-core Tegra 3 chip from Nvidia.

But even in the x86 market, AMD is trailing Intel. Top PC makers like Lenovo, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Acer and Asus have announced Windows 8 tablets with Intel’s tablet-specific Atom chip code-named Clover Trail. Intel has said it is tracking more than 20 design wins, so more tablets with Clover Trail chips are expected to be released in the near future.

The feature set AMD is offering on Hondo—which is a repurposed netbook chip—is adequate for tablets, but questions remain on how competitive the company can be in the tablet market, McCarron . Even a small design win can be adequate for AMD, but it is not comparable to the progress ARM has made via products such as the iPad, McCarron said.

This article was updated on October 25 to correct a reportorial error on the number of tablets AMD will announce by January 2013.

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