What does Apple's move to ARM mean for the future of Adobe/Apple power-users?

Contributor ,
Jun 22, 2020 Jun 22, 2020

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Hi. I'm not sure which forum to post this in so please move this thread if appropriate. 

 

I work primarily in After Effects, Premiere Pro, and VDMX (which is a live visual effects program), as well as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Animate. I also teach these programs, which these days means operating them while also livestreaming my screen and being live on a web-based video chat streaming myself as well as seeing student's screens.

 

I enjoy working in the Mac environment, and have been saving money to purchase a new MacBook (I need portability). The new 16" 2019 model seemed to get good reviews and I was planning to spec it out. I was aiming for the 2.4ghz 8 core 32gb model with the upgraded GPU. I was assuming that would be powerful enough for my needs. I seem to have the most trouble when using After Effects and would like to be able to do more.

 

My questions are:

- With Apple's move to ARM based Macs how smart is it to invest in a new Macbook Pro right now? 

- Will Intel based Macbooks become obsolete? How soon?

- Will Adobe continue to support Intel based Macs? For how long?

- Specifically, will I suffer a performance boost running future Adobe software on an Intel Mac?

- And lastly how soon do you think Apple will update their OS and thus make it impossible for Intel Macs to update Adobe software?

 

Is there anything else I'm not considering? I'm hoping that someone from Adobe will chime in. It's a big inconvenience to wait another year or two to purchase a computer but if investing in a current Macbook right now is a really bad decision I guess I would have to wait since it's a big investment for me. I was hoping to get 10 years out of a spec'd out 2019 16" model but it sounds like I'd be lucky to get 5 years now.

Any thoughts?

 

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 22, 2020 Jun 22, 2020

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The plain truth is that none of us, as users, have enough information to give any concrete recommendations from what was seen this morning. All we saw were Apple’s statements during a marketing-driven keynote speech, and Apple was not sufficiently specific for anyone to make any hard decisions. All you will get today from users is speculation.

 

But this is the Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference, so you do have the benefit of a group that will have more information than us users: Apple developers, who are now attending the more specific breakout sessions after the keynote, learning what Apple is telling them about how their apps need to be written for this new environment. We might get better answers after this week’s sessions are done and developers have a better sense of the work that lies ahead, and what Apple is planning (in terms of hardware roadmaps and long-term support for Intel) that is out of their control. I will be watching for commentary from any developers who attended sessions and blog about it later.

 

You expressed a hope for a 10-year life for a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro. That is not usually realistic. I know several friends and family who were or are using Mac laptops for over 10 years, but what they have in common was most of their time is spent surfing the web or reading email. Very modest hardware needs. But you mentioned “After Effects, Premiere Pro, and VDMX (which is a live visual effects program), as well as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Animate.” I don’t think there’s ever been a time when a laptop could keep up with those applications for 10 years without severely limiting expectations in the last 4–5 years of use. Think of how well the best available Mac laptop from 10 years ago would meet the system requirements of those applications today…

 

I got over 10 years out of a Mac and was using major Adobe applications on it (including video editing, though not 4K) at the end, but it was possible only because it was an upgradeable Mac Pro tower. I was able to get it to 10 years by, over time, upgrading its RAM to the max, upgrading the internal drives, and upgrading the video card, to keep up with Adobe system requirements. But none of those upgrades is possible with Mac laptops, another reason why it is difficult to use a Mac laptop for more than 4–6 years with the latest versions of major Adobe applications before the laptop needs to be replaced.

 

To see what impact ARM Macs will have, we have to wait a while until more details come out. If you need to buy a Mac soon, the fact is it will be months before any ARM Macs are available for sale. The Developer Test Kit Macs made available today use the same chip as in the iPad Pro, which is unlikely to be the chip used in the first ARM Macs, so we still don’t know exactly how the first ARM Macs will perform, or if they will be introduced at the high end or low end. Too many questions that will not be answered soon.

 

In the meantime, the 16" MacBook Pro should serve well enough for several years.

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Contributor ,
Jun 22, 2020 Jun 22, 2020

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Thank you for your thoughts on this. I have to agree that I nearly want to stop using Apple products solely based on their move of not letting third parties upgrade the hardware. For now though I'm considering myself stuck in the ecosystem and I have no intentions of leaving yet. But that would be one of the main reasons why if I did.

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Contributor ,
Jun 22, 2020 Jun 22, 2020

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Just saw this about OpenGL which seems crazy

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 25, 2020 Jun 25, 2020

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That OpenGL status is not crazy, it’s what Apple has been guiding for some time now. Developers have known that OpenGL is deprecated. For years the complaint has been that Apple has not paid any attention to OpenGL, providing macOS with outdated OpenGL drivers.

 

That has been and will continue to be a problem for applications that depend on OpenGL, like some games and 3D applications. But they have been running pretty bad on the Mac already due to the reasons above.

 

It should not be a problem for current versions of Adobe applications. Adobe has followed Apple’s guidance and so in several of their Mac applications, Adobe has implemented the most recent GPU acceleration optimizations using Apple Metal. This is especially true in Lightroom and in the video applications.

 

Regarding the ability to upgrade the hardware, for the laptops the older MacBook Pros were not that different from most PC laptops: You could upgrade the amount of RAM and the internal storage, but not the CPU or graphics, and that wasn’t enough to make it useful for 10 years of graphics/video work whether Mac or PC. Although you can’t upgrade anything inside a Mac laptop now, having Thunderbolt 3/USB-C means you can sort of upgrade the graphics by connecting to a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU, and adding external storage is both more compact and faster than ever because very fast, high capacity NVMe SSDs can be used as tiny Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C drives about the size of a package of chewing gum.

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Contributor ,
Jun 23, 2020 Jun 23, 2020

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I guess my real question is this: if Apple really does transition to arm in two years will Adobe at that point stop supporting Intel processor's as their main target? As in will my Adobe software at that point run worse on Intel then it would an arm? Will the software mainly be targeted for arm computers?

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Explorer ,
Jul 26, 2020 Jul 26, 2020

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So far i know, the majority of the Adobe clients are Windows users.

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Explorer ,
Jul 26, 2020 Jul 26, 2020

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Some years ago i moved over from many years working with Apple to a Windows based computer. I dont feel a love or hate for Apple and just see them as tools. I stil think these days that Apple machines are not the best configurated tools for products like Photoshop. That said, i am very interested what is going on with Apple and there move to ARM. It will be the first ARM machine with full ARM support on Adobe Cloud, so i would expect issues like always in early adoption. Question will be how many Adobe apps would be ready to swap over to ARM and more importent: how will they perform. Photoshop for example is leaning hard on CPU power and RAM. What ever happens.. it will be all new. If you need to rely on your tools i would go for the intel route with a Macbook. It performs and works good. Give it an 3year cicle and let ARM mature together with Adobe for desktop systems. Right?! 😄

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