On the switch to Apple Processors during WWDC2020

I bought my first Mac in 2004.

It is a 12” iBook, the last model to be assembled in Taiwan, just before production is moved to Mainland China. As most will know eventually, the PowerPC Mac laptops were somewhat slow, stuck at G4 processors because IBM can’t make power efficient G5 processors that won’t burn the skin off anyone’s legs if a G5 processor was ever used in a Mac laptop. 

The Intel switch was announced in 2005, with the first MacBook Pro released around Jan 2006, and the first MacBooks around April 2006 if I remembered correctly. I was quite involved in the educational sales of Macs in some of the major tertiary institutions in Singapore, and to an extent, the aftersales support in one of these institutions for a few years.

A major thing during the first year was the old Mac people commenting on how stupid the term “MacBook” sounded, after years of PowerBooks and iBooks. Seriously today MacBooks are how the common non-Mac users define a Mac laptop, and in hindsight it was a great name, just like many of Steve Jobs’ other ideas. “We are done with Power”, he said during the MacBook Pro reveal.

Today I doubt we will see a change of product names though, when the Macs with the Apple processors are eventually unveiled next year.

One big issue the early MacBooks had were that the first Core Duo/Solo CPUs ran really hot, and with Apple’s legendary cheapskate-ness of putting enough ram in their laptops a lot of these early MacBooks were slower, hot, and did not seemed to be that much faster than the G4s they replaced. More RAM (we did a institution-wide program for upgrading RAM) and the Core 2 Duos eventually solved the problems.

Will next year’s A14 MacBooks be as problematic as the first MacBooks? I wonder. Apple has a track record of having problematic first generation machines (first intel logic boarded unibody MacBooks, first Retina MBP, first TB3 MacBook Pros, amongst others) though the first 2nd-gen MacBook Air, and the first Retina iMacs were absolutely perfect. 

A huge factor in the problematic first MacBooks were that the Core processors from Intel were relatively new, coming from the Pentium M design that a small team in Israel made, and Apple probably had at most a year of work with the Core processors before implementing them in the MacBooks, like every other Intel customer.

Apple has more than 10 years of experience working with the Apple A-series processors, and more than 10 years of experience putting them in machines that are way way way smaller than even the smallest Mac — the 12” MacBook. Heat, stability and performance won’t be an issue in the upcoming early Macs for sure – and with the rumored first machine being my favuorite 12” MacBook design, I will sure be saving up for one.

Monday can’t come soon enough.


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Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

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