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Apple thinks so, and they could be right. I predicted that the Mac Pro announced in 2019 would use Intel chips, and I was right. But I also said I thought it would be at least a few years before Apple's ARM chips would have the power needed for tasks like powerful video editing, so they'd be using Intel for a while longer. I may have got that wrong.

Apple has officially announced its ARM Macs, and they're not shying away from promoting its potential power. They expect the transition to be complete in two years, so it may be that initially, Intel will still be used for the heavy lifting, but ARM will eventually take over. Or maybe the ARM chips will be awesome from the gitgo...we don't know yet. We also don't know if this is all about laptops and iPads, or desktops.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Apple has a history of over-the-top hype - but then making at least some, if not most, of it happen. Stay tuned...

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Their "special event" was kind of over-the-top, for sure.

It seems that the current M1 chip has a limitation of two USB-C ports and 16GB memory, so it's not taking over the world for now. I'm also not a fan of the memory being on the chip itself...goodbye memory upgrades, even if one had to void a warranty to do them in recent years.


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16 GB? Non-starter. My PC Audio Labs computer, which was born in the Vista era, has 32 GB of RAM and that has come in very useful.

But for those who just surf the web and run Excel spreadsheets, 16 GB is fine. Maybe that's the direction Apple wants to take - a smooth path up from phones. OTOH Microsoft's task is to create a path that goes from desktops to phones and tablets.

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My "vintage" 2014 MacBook Pro has 16 gigs of RAM and it does a good job as a recording computer for me (bearing in mind I went from 6 gigs of RAM and Firewire 400 to 16 gigs and Thunderbolt 2).

It won't take them long to ramp up to 32 gigs or 64 gigs, nor is it written in stone that they will only used one processor. It could be maintaining a suitable temperature is an issue, also solvable.
For every solution, there is a problem.

They have the resources, $$$ and a brain pool.

I plan on getting a cheap Billy G box for the interwebz and using my current gear for a few years to record. I expect things will be profoundly different by then, hopefully in ways that I like.

Worst case I'll just play my guitar, they've not become obsolete as the centuries have rolled by...


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If anyone's getting deja vu, it's because Apple was using RISC-based processors (their G-series chips) until they decided they needed to go to CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing), as represented by Intel. CISC has a large instruction set that executes a lot of operations at the same time, RISC executes simple operations quickly. They're really quite different architectures. Arm is simply the name of the company that licenses the technology, they don't make chips...and basically, the chips end up being complete, dedicated subsystems instead of general-purpose processors (which is why they're so good for mobile devices).

As far as I can tell, Arm-based chips can't beat Intel now, although they may be able to in a couple years. But, will they be able to beat the chips Intel introduces in a couple years?

There are already plenty of Arm-based devices that have long battery life, with the tradeoff being lower performance. What Apple needs to do is bring the performance up to the level of Intel chips for those doing tasks like rendering videos with complex 32D effects, but that will probably negate the power saving issues...which means there's no reason not to use Intel.

We'll see what happens, but my take is that Apple will dominate the consumer sector more with their strategy, while Windows will be more for heavy-duty, desktop-based computing for at least the foreseeable future.

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An astute synopsis, Sir Craig!
I feel like I can hold off for a few years at this point and see what happens.

Things have changed profoundly over the last few years and staggeringly so over the last few decades. There is more to come.

Systems that are "almost good enough" now will be set aside. As you point out, there is more than one market for computing, some need much more speed and power than others.
I'm using Windows at my new job, we have an outside systems tech who keeps everything zippng along.

I do notice little things that have been on Mac OS for many years are finally part of the Windows system. It may not seem like much but being able to use a printer dialog box to create a .pdf was super handy back when I did graphic design. I just did that yesterday at work, and it was nice to see it there. Bearing in mind I was using Windows XP at my last job years ago, which did not have this small but valuable feature.

I'm sure I might find the reverse is true if I was a power Windows user for all these years. I do better choosing something and getting along with it than bouncing around trying to gain mastery of multiple systems. Short term memory is not what it used to be, part of me getting older that I have to deal with now

Chip design is another animal and there are companies like Nvidia or AMD that have the potential to suddenly blow everybody else out of the water if some genius team comes up with a new way of getting things done.
It's impossible to "commit" to the future, the potential is beyond my capacity to parse.


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I could see a divergence of Apple focusing on energy efficient self-fab chip for laptops, Intel focusing on larger tech and heavy lifting for everything else.

Intel is going to be at a disadvantage being an OEM supplier instead of a bespoke production.

RISC 5 might change things at some point.


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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Chip design is another animal and there are companies like Nvidia or AMD that have the potential to suddenly blow everybody else out of the water if some genius team comes up with a new way of getting things done.

Nvidia is buying (has bought? not sure) Arm. That's gonna be interesting.

As to AMD, remember how they were down for the count a few years ago? Fortunes can change quickly in today's world.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
16 GB? Non-starter ... those who just surf the web and run Excel spreadsheets, 16 GB is fine.
That's a bit like "the glass is half-empty". From the perpsective of the "the glass is half-full" I'd say that 16GB is now the base line entry level for Apple Macs. It's a pretty safe bet from Apple's past offerings that 32, 64 and 128GB +++ are just around the corner.

But even if that weren't true, 16GB is good for a a heck of a lot more than "surfing the web and running Excel spreadsheets".

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Originally Posted by Groove On
Originally Posted by Anderton
16 GB? Non-starter ... those who just surf the web and run Excel spreadsheets, 16 GB is fine.
That's a bit like "the glass is half-empty". From the perpsective of the "the glass is half-full" I'd say that 16GB is now the base line entry level for Apple Macs. It's a pretty safe bet from Apple's past offerings that 32, 64 and 128GB +++ are just around the corner.

But even if that weren't true, 16GB is good for a a heck of a lot more than "surfing the web and running Excel spreadsheets".

Yes, but it is the baseline - it's not enough for serious video editing or multi-tasking. I'm always bumping up against my 32 GB limit in the studio; I have 16 GB in my office computer, and it definitely limits what I can do.

I'm sure higher-memory Macs are "around the corner," but the devil is in the details - pricing, upgradability, efficient memory handling, etc. I just don't know where this is going...on the one hand Apple is telling me an iPad Pro is what I need instead of a laptop, but then they commit to chipsets whose strongest suit is laptops. And that a Mac Pro is incredible, Intel-based, and costs at least $6,000...but computers based on Arm on going to be better...someday.
.
Meanwhile, Windows misfired with Arm (Windows RT + Surface, anyone?) and has no credible presence with cell phones, other than the (admittedly good) integration with Android. Meanwhile, Apple is finally going to make iOS and macOS play nice.

I just want a bitchin' fast computer for serious video and audio work that I can afford, and for now, that's Windows. If two years from now it's a Mac, I'll get a new Mac. As an analogy, I need to build a house...I don't really care who makes the hammer. smile

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Chip design is another animal and there are companies like Nvidia or AMD that have the potential to suddenly blow everybody else out of the water if some genius team comes up with a new way of getting things done.

Nvidia is buying (has bought? not sure) Arm. That's gonna be interesting.

As to AMD, remember how they were down for the count a few years ago? Fortunes can change quickly in today's world.

It bears remembering that Apple started in a garage and Microsoft was not much of a company at first either. Neither was Amazon for that matter.

From tiny acorns grow the great oak trees!


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...and great oak trees can be attacked by roundheaded borer beetles! RIP Circuit City, Blockbuster, Radio Shack, Sears, Enron, Compaq, Tower Records, Polaroid...

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Another limiting factor is whether they continue with their anti-self repair philosophy. At some point regardless of their technology if it becomes well known they're effectively making the Chrysler K-car of computers they may find themselves suddenly in a peculiar bind.

...but RISC V....


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Originally Posted by Anderton
...and great oak trees can be attacked by roundheaded borer beetles! RIP Circuit City, Blockbuster, Radio Shack, Sears, Enron, Compaq, Tower Records, Polaroid...

Yep, and DAT, CDs, VHS, carburetors, and umpty bajillion various and sundry products and services that have been abandoned or diminished to the point of irrelevance.

So it goes. "Progress"...


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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
My "vintage" 2014 MacBook Pro has 16 gigs of RAM and it does a good job as a recording computer for me (bearing in mind I went from 6 gigs of RAM and Firewire 400 to 16 gigs and Thunderbolt 2).

16 GB of RAM! Wow! I don't think I have any computers here that have more than 4 GB. The PC motherboard that's in the Mackie d8b console that I'm trying to revive has only 16 MB of RAM.

And before someone says it (I'm surprised that nobody has yet), Bill Gates did NOT say "640 MB should be enough for anybody."

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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
My "vintage" 2014 MacBook Pro has 16 gigs of RAM and it does a good job as a recording computer for me (bearing in mind I went from 6 gigs of RAM and Firewire 400 to 16 gigs and Thunderbolt 2).

16 GB of RAM! Wow! I don't think I have any computers here that have more than 4 GB. The PC motherboard that's in the Mackie d8b console that I'm trying to revive has only 16 MB of RAM.

And before someone says it (I'm surprised that nobody has yet), Bill Gates did NOT say "640 MB should be enough for anybody."

Ha!
My mom had a "doorstop Mac" with the superdrive that could read and write onto the 1.4mb floppy disks. The floppies were bigger than the hard drive.
For all that, she wrote a 200+ page novel in Word version (Less Than One??) on it. laugh


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The Air would be fine for my wife, who is a casual user - web, email, news, some lightweight photo editing. I can see this replacing her 2015 MacBook Pro when the time comes.

Guess I'm a bit out of step here, but I think the Mac Mini has the most interesting potential. Chain a few drives off of it and you have an efficient, powerful and affordable media server. You can also offload processing duties to it if necessary.

This initial version is kind of lacking on ports, but that can easily be addressed with a hub, and this is really just the start.


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Originally Posted by Rusty Mike
Guess I'm a bit out of step here, but I think the Mac Mini has the most interesting potential. Chain a few drives off of it and you have an efficient, powerful and affordable media server. You can also offload processing duties to it if necessary.

This initial version is kind of lacking on ports, but that can easily be addressed with a hub, and this is really just the start.

If I was going to get a new Mac, that's what I'd get. The price sounds better than it is because spiffing it out with enough RAM and a faster CPU ain't cheap, but it's still a very cost-effective and capable machine.

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And notice that the base price of two of the new models dropped by $100. That doesn't always happen with Apple. thu


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I've had some concern lately about it being time to get a new MBP, my late 2013 model has been the best one I've had so far but recently the right speaker crapped out and the USB port on the right side became flakey. My wife bought a new one last year. It's become harder for me to make decisions on upgrades anymore.

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Apple people always want the latest and greatest, so you may be able to pick up a perfectly good 2013 or 2014 Mac from someone dumping it for an Arm machine, and get at least 2-3 years out of it. By that time, Big Sur should be working properly smile

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Early reviews of the entry level M1 Macs are looking good; reviewers are consistently getting their minds blown. It looks like they’re performing 2-3x better than previous offerings and even the MacBook Air is rivaling desktops. Rosetta performance is excellent with many benchmarks running better than on straight Intel. Considering these are just the low-power portable M1 chips, I can’t wait to see how an actual desktop M1 performs.

With performance so good, it looks like the maiin sticking point will be how much RAM/onboard storage or ports you need. If you’re running large sample libraries, might have to wait a bit longer.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Apple people always want the latest and greatest, so you may be able to pick up a perfectly good 2013 or 2014 Mac from someone dumping it for an Arm machine, and get at least 2-3 years out of it. By that time, Big Sur should be working properly smile

It's been a while but I picked up a refurbished MacBook Pro from an eBay seller with 12,000+ feedback at 99.7% positive. 16 gigs of RAM, a new 512k SSD and the machine itself is pretty pristine. A bit over $1k about a 2 years ago, probably cheaper now.
I plan on using it for some time to come. Mostly I track up to three tracks at a time. That kicks the fan on for a bit but latency is really low and it works fine without glitching or crapping out. I'm pretty happy with it.
Next one may be a Mac Mini or an iMac but I'm hoping to get a few more years out of this one first.


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Originally Posted by Groove On
Early reviews of the entry level M1 Macs are looking good; reviewers are consistently getting their minds blown.

Like these comments, and one of them specifically mentioned running Photoshop and doing video editing with Adobe as working well. Now if the new machines can run a hardcore DAW project while also running a video editing program and doing a screen motion capture, I'm interested. It also sounds like they got the thermal design right compared to the ill-fated 2013 Mac Pro.

My next Windows machine is (thankfully!!) just around the corner, but I can see getting a Mac Mini sometime in late 2021 to replace my aging dual Xeon desktop (which is essentially useless at this point, even though there's nothing really wrong with it).

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I thought I posted here, but I don’t see it. I just saw a guy run 990 plug ins in Logic, including 3 dozen space designers, before the BASE model Mini failed. But there were only about 16 virtual instruments.

If it would handle 48 virtual instruments with only 16gigs of RAM, which is the Max right now, I’d be heading to the Apple store right now.


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Originally Posted by zeronyne
If it would handle 48 virtual instruments with only 16gigs of RAM, which is the Max right now, I’d be heading to the Apple store right now.

Regardless of the early returns, I'd wait. If you're using all Apple stuff, you're probably okay. But after spending some time on other forums, I'm seeing a lot of compatibility issues with non-Apple programs, specifically in terms of graphics. Those things will be ironed out for sure, but it may take a while.

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Trailing-edge guy here:

What a fair number of folks are saying is that Apple is taking the right approach to this: they've created a bottom-end chip for the portable machines and the Mini, and are letting people test the waters with them without a huge cash outlay.

Note what I said: bottom-end.

I have a number of friends who work at Apple, and I'm talking black ops hardware and deep-level OS stuff. (I've played gigs with a guy who was fairly high up on the design team for the main logic boards in at least a few iPads.) They are all still employed because they regard NDA as their own personal religion, so I have never had a glimpse at the future... but based on the stuff they're allowed to tell me after a product ships, I have a pretty good (for an outsider) view of how the system works behind the closed doors. To wit:

Not many people who aren't into the computer industry per se really understand how long this stuff takes. Case in point: Project Marklar. That was the in-house code name for the ordinary-looking Macs that lived under the desks of a small number of Apple employees, that were running early versions of OS X on Intel while the company was still publicly slamming Intel and promoting PowerPC. And they were doing it for YEARS before anything was announced. The fast rampup to Intel shocked most folks... but Apple had prepped it for a long, long time behind the scenes.

Similarly, there was absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind that the M1 chip was already on the drawing board as far back as 2015, as the A chips were teaching Apple what would and wouldn't work in such an environment. And there is no doubt in my mind that the M5 is already being sketched out, the M4 is already being prototyped, the M3 is undergoing torture-testing at the manufacturing stage... and the M2 is already stacked up in a warehouse waiting to be installed in the Macs that Apple will announce in the spring.

The M1 is a proof of concept, much like the Mac mini with the Intel Core Solo was. These are cheap machines that get people hyped up about what these chips can do. (A fanless Mac that can run Ableton Live 11 full blast is very tempting.)

But in less than a year, Apple will announce, at a minimum, a truly new MacBook Pro with an M2 chip in it that will sit folks on their asses... and we may even see a Mac Pro that goes even farther. My hope in that regard is that the price will actually drop a bit once Apple Silicon is part of the equation, especially if Apple turns its system-on-a-chip graphics coprocessors into separate video cards with their own fans.

We'll see if I'm right.

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Originally Posted by Greg Mein
I've had some concern lately about it being time to get a new MBP, my late 2013 model has been the best one I've had so far but recently the right speaker crapped out and the USB port on the right side became flakey. My wife bought a new one last year. It's become harder for me to make decisions on upgrades anymore.
I have a late 2016 MBP, it suffered from the keyboard issue and I sent it in for repair when I went on vacay last fall. It came back as a new machine, they basically replaced everything except the display. Now waiting for the M1 16" MBP, that should hopefully keep me going for the next 5-6 years, which is the average of how often I upgrade laptops.

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Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
Case in point: Project Marklar. That was the in-house code name for the ordinary-looking Macs that lived under the desks of a small number of Apple employees, that were running early versions of OS X on Intel while the company was still publicly slamming Intel and promoting PowerPC. And they were doing it for YEARS before anything was announced. The fast rampup to Intel shocked most folks... but Apple had prepped it for a long, long time behind the scenes.
I was surprised by those who were surprised. After all, NeXT had NeXtStep and OpenStep or whatever they called it at various points running on x86.

But yes, these things don't get designed and built overnight, and "M1" is just the first generation. Get used to saying things like "M-series" or whatever because M1 is the first in what surely will be a long succession of SoC running Macs. After all, Apple has been making the A-series for how many years now? Macs and M-series SoC are just getting started. It will be interesting to see the next releases if they will have the M1, or maybe an M1X, or M2. If it's an M1, it will probably have some stuff like more memory.

I'm trying to decide how long to wait for one of these speedy new toys. grin


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I doubt they will take over anything except Apple's product line. Worldwide, Apple is a tiny computer company attached to a monster phone and consumer electronics company. Their "pro" systems are a completely niche thing in the grand scheme of things.

I just know that I am so glad I don't rely on a Mac computer for media creation right now. I used to. Their stuff is expensive, but never special at any given price point from a performance perspective, and really only worthwhile if you need one as a dongle for Logic or Final Cut. We are at a place that computers have gone well beyond the horsepower needed for working with all but the most extreme audio processing scenarios. Even editing 4K video is easy on a $500 processor put into a $1500-2000 total system.

The whole Mac world will churn and we will have three years of complaints about obsolescence, dead end computers, probably another round of port incompatibilities, and strange form factors that are "Almost right" for audio, but not really "just right". They will always have plenty of computers capable of making music - a phone is more than capable of multi tracking a band if you can stand the mess of adapters and small screen.

Apple computers are a thin slice of the first world..... most of the world (including musicians - on a global basis) don't use them. But the ProTools world is heavily Mac based, so lots of audio people will care. I'm just happy not to have to plan for everything I own to need replacing. My MBP is now six or seven years old. It lives at my desk. But I carry a Microsoft Surface when I want to take a computer - it is way smaller, lighter, better screen, a useful pen, and a better interface on a real, full operating system. Apple leads the world in production of Mac computers, and in case design for sure. But if you are just trying to get work done, I'm not sure they are as magical as they seemed to me 20 years ago. Right now we need better operating systems and DAW implementations that can even use the new multi-core processors to their fullest.... Software needs more work than the hardware.

I see this as useful profit improvement for Apple. They have always been a vertically integrated closed garden. Windows seems to want to head there. But systems like the new Luna system or Avid's Carbon are starting to point the way back to hardware/software integration that makes the OS a very incidental thing.

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