Unless you are deeply disconnected from the hardware, CPU architecture does matter. Most developers using macbooks I know have VMs for either Windows or Linux works.
It might be conceivable to use the ARM port of <Insert your Linux distribution here>, or the ARM version of Windows 10. But it would also require a good desktop virtualization solution for ARM. If Apple release its own solution or creates a partnership with let's say VMWare to release something at the same time an ARM macbook comes out, it might work, but barely, and I'm not sure if developers are at the top of Apple's priority list. In the end, with the Linux subsystem in Windows, choosing Windows as a development platform might make more sense.
As a side note, if Apple switches to ARM, I foresee a lot of cringing. The switch from ppc to intel was annoying for a lot of Apple users at the time, but there were a lot of goodies (bootcamp, better autonomy, better performance, VMs) that kind of made it up for it, basically, nothing was lost in term of possibilities, a few were actually gained, and only the transition was a bit painful. With a switch to ARM, you may gain a little in term of autonomy, but with macbook pro already at +8 hours (~a work day), not sure it's a game changer, at best you will stay the same in term of performance, and you will lose in compatibility with other OSes.
My feeling is it will be net zero as far as ARM servers are concerned until the hardware is made and is viable. Perhaps Apple ARM laptops will help with marketing ARM as a viable option, but we already develop on OS X in order to deploy to Linux without any great calling for OS X servers.
Cloud server “hardware” has also drifted from what you see in real hardware. There are numerous times in my career I’ve had to explain to deveopers of all experience levels that their SSD is several orders of magnitude faster than the tiny EBS volume they’re reading from and writing to.
In short, I think architecture mismatch just isn’t that important to most Web App oriented companies. My girlfriend works at a travel industry giant and they’re at the opposite end, putting IBM mainframes to good use. They don’t have much use for Macs and most of their developers seem to be on Windows instead of anything resembling what they’re deploying on. For the segment of our industry that does care, they’ll have options and will choose them regardless of what Apple, Google, and Microsoft do with ARM, Intel, Power, MIPS and other architectures.
Was the PowerBook as heavily used as a developer laptop as the MacBook is today?
(or Power Mac vs desktop PC as desktops were more common at the time).
I was not in the industry at the time (2000 - 2006) so I don't know the answer.
I'm not sure the architecture mattered as much as that did.
Not all Mac users are devs.
Its not that all users are devs. Its that all devs might not be able to make their software work well under that environment.
I think you will see a lot of performance boost after switching to ARM. If they start on the "low end" then a macbook will be practically on par with a mbp. This might not be useful at first for native development, but I am quite sure that macOS, iOS and web development will be very much possible on these machines - the three domains that Apple cares most about.
A battery lifetime of 8 or 12 hours is plenty, and going beyond that isn't that much of a marketable strategy, unless it has to become 24h+ or something. A lower weight approach however would also mean a lower BOM for Apple, and more profit, while being able to shout "1/3rd lighter!" - and that's an easy sell :)
That's for servers and scientific software (and perhaps 3D and such).
For regular devs the massive core count helps even with non optimized apps, because unlike the above use cases, we run lots of apps at the same time (and each can have its core).
Linus’s prediction is based on the premise that everyone will continue to use x86 for development. But that’s probably not going to be the case for long. Multiple sources have leaked the rumour that Apple will release an arm MacBook next year. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft has an arm surface book in the wings too.
The majority of people in the world writing code are using x86 PCs and Microsoft and Apple aren't about to change that with any *Book.
Linus' premise that everyone will continue to use x86 for development is because they will.
There's no incentive for companies or individuals to go switch out all of that x86 hardware sitting on desks and in racks with ARM alternatives which will offer them lower performance than their already slightly aged hardware at initially higher costs.
I can forsee _some_ interest in ARM cloud, and I don't think it'll be the issue Linus claims at higher-than-systems-level, but I absolutely would bet on x86 going nowhere in the human-software interface space in the foreseeable future.
For some reason Macbooks seem disproportionately represented amongst web developers. All the agencies I know in Sydney and Melbourne are full of macbooks.
> There's no incentive for companies or individuals to go switch out all of that x86 hardware sitting on desks and in racks with ARM alternatives which will offer them lower performance than their already slightly aged hardware at initially higher costs.
Uh, why are you assuming ARM laptops will have lower performance and a higher cost compared to x86 equivalents? The ARM CPU in the iPad pro already outperforms the high end intel chips in macbook pros in some tests. And how long do you think Apple will continue to sell intel-based macbooks once they have ARM laptops on the market? Maybe they'll keep selling intel laptops for a year or two, but I doubt they'll keep refreshing them when new intel processors come out. When Apple moved from powerpc to intel they didn't keep releasing new powerpc based laptops.
Once web development shops start buying laptops with ARM chips, it will be a huge hassle if random nodejs modules don't build & work on ARM. At this point I expect most compatibility issues will be fixed, and that will in turn make deploying nodejs apps on arm a more reasonable choice.
Obviously we'll see, and this is all speculation for all of us. But I think its a reasonable path for ARM chips to invade the desktop.
Apple have 100% control over every part of their hardware and software from the get go, so it's inevitable they perform excellently on that hardware; they can optimise their code to death, and increment the hardware where it can be improved upon.
Web developers make up a fairly small proportion of the developers I've ever worked with, I have worked for software houses where web just isn't a thing for us other than for our own marketing. None of these people run Mac's, they all run PCs, and these PCs don't have the same control in their hardware/software process that will bring about the kind of "excellent" result you see from an iPad. They'll be relying on Microsoft to get Windows optimised, but Microsoft will be working with dozens, even hundreds of partners, Apple works with one, itself.
I suspect, also that they'll be more expensive because of all the new development the manufacturers have to put into releasing these new ARM laptops. Microsoft will have to put extra work into Windows, which will cost money, and finally those of us that run Linux will end up with something that hasn't had the benefit of the decades of x86 development on the desktop has had, thus, worse performance, at least in the beginning.
I could imagine a laptop equivalent of big.LITTLE, where you have x86 cores for the real grunt work, and ARM cores for power saving, bit I don't see pure ARM in the workstation space.
It'll be an interesting time, but based on my own experience, I'm betting on Linus with this one and I don't see myself or my colleagues or my workplace moving to ARM anywhere outside of non-laptop-portables any time soon.
It took 4 years of concerted effort to get most node things working right in windows.
To really see the benefit of changing they would need to add a lot of cores, and then cross their fingers that 3rd party app developers know how to do true multi-core development.
If that team were to design a bigger core aimed at laptops, then I wouldn't be surprised if they could make it competitive.