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Best CPU for music production: ARM processor!

Best CPU for music production: ARM processor!

This is the future guys, this is what we desperately need: a quicker CPU.
The best computer for music production has an ARM processor, yes those processors that are in your mobile phone.
This is my prediction: within 5 years we have totally different computers that aren’t compatible with our current ones.
The processor that is in your phone and your tablet.

Our current software won’t run on the new ones, unless developers convert the software to the new platform.
In this blog I try to oversimplify things to get basic knowledge across.
I am talking to the music producer, which are creative people and just a handful are tech savvy.

This “new" platform is ARM.
ARM is the future and will replace our current Intel and AMD processors in 3-5 years.
Let me tell you a little backstory.
There are 2 main types of processors on the market which are totally incompatible with each other: RISC and CISC.
RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computers.
CISC stands for Complex Instruction Set Computers.

RISC processor

A Risc processor has a reduced and simpler instruction set. So it is easier to program for.
To do one simple task, like multiplying a number, you can do that in 1 clock cycle.
A Risc processor needs 2 or 3 instructions (this is way too oversimplified, but it is just to get an idea of what is happening).

This means that these RISC processors are far more efficient per clock cycle.
That means that they are 20% faster and produce less heat.
Which is ideal for mobile devices like your mobile phone.
But also for CPU heavy applications like music production.

RISC processors emerged in the 80s, but never got a real foot on the ground. Maybe the most famous examples are the PowerPC iMacs, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Wii, Wii U, switch, playstation 3.
And your mobile phone and tablet.

CISC processor

CISC 68000 your motorala 68000 which was in your Sega Genesis (Mega Drive in Europe) and a slew of arcade machines.
And the big one, that is probably the only one still around: Intel.
Every desktop or laptop with an Intel processor has a CISC processor.

ARM processors

The firm ARM has set a technology standard for RISC, which companies can buy a license of.
Companies like Qualcom which make the Snapdragon processors in Android phones.
And Apple who make their own chips for their iphones, ipads, apple watch, apple tv etc.

If the main advantages of ARM processors are speed, less heat production and energy effeciency. So, why don’t we use it for your computer for music production?
Well, thats a good question!
I think the problem is software compatibility.
Software that runs on one platform will not run on the other and vice versa.
There is some conversion software for compatibility, but the overhead you create will totally kill your performance advantage.

The future is ARM processors

But I think, looking in my chrystal ball, that we are heading this way.
Microsoft ported Windows to ARM. Microsoft has also ported Office to ARM.
And the first laptops with ARM processors have arrived.
Amazon already is switching to ARM processors for their cloud services.
And don’t forget Apple HAS already an ARM based operating system: iOS!
iOS is a conversion of MacOS.
Don’t you think that Apple has running an iMac with an A98 processor?
I think so!

Where is it?

Why isn’t it here yet?
It think because of software. Software needs to be ported to ARM.
And especially complicated software like Logic or Final Cut Pro takes a while.
Not to speak of all the plugins that have to be ported.
But I think it won’t take long.
My prediction is: within three years.

Mainstream pc 3-5 years, Apple within 2 years.
But DAW software makers do not have the reputation to use the latest technologies.
In fact they are quite slow.
So I think it will be a while before music producers are switching to ARM based DAWs.
I think it it will take about 5 years.

if DAW software makers are smart about it, they are already looking into this, because if you are the first, this can give you a real advantage over your competition and probably a lot producers would switch if they know that a new machine is 20% more faster.
The only way for this to work is if Plugin makers would make their plugins compatible with ARM processors.
So much exiting stuff ahead!


19-05-2019

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