Okay, the LAST thing we need in laptops is a fscking baseband. Management Engine has nothing on this. Hopefully there will be models without cellular connectivity that don’t have it enabled.
Also, Secure Boot on these laptops is an interesting question. Many people on HN referenced the old Microsoft page that says “ARM devices must be locked”, which was about Windows RT and phones. For this new stuff, we literally don’t know yet…
Laptops with cell connectivity is hardly a new feature. Those have been for sale for at least a decade. Given that I’m data-only on my cell connectivity already, I might find such a feature useful these days…
Laptops usually had discrete modems, not integrated into an SoC like on mobile devices, always-on with full access to system memory.
I’m not too familiar with the way SoC systems are programmed/designed. So, is the software responsible for cellular communication using the same memory as the operating system? And that, presumably, is a binary blob from the manufacturer or cell phone company? And sleep mode would now have some background data using that code?
While a discrete modem would just talk over some bus, only when the system is not in sleep?
It’s a binary blob running on the baseband processor, which might have unrestricted direct memory access to the main processor’s memory. (Even if it doesn’t have that access, it’s still pretty dangerous.)
Yes, a traditional laptop modem would talk over PCIe/USB/PCMCIA/…, only when not in sleep, and the OS would be fully in control. In modern laptops, this is usually a mini PCIe card. Even though PCIe is not designed for hostile devices, IIRC the OS sets up DMA regions and the DMA controller does not allow the device to write outside them. What does the proprietary bus inside of a mobile SoC allow? We don’t know.
On the contrary, I’m absolutely stoked out of my mind about a cellular first laptop. If these things work as smoothly as the marketing makes them out, I’ll switch back to Windows in a heartbeat, no questions asked. I don’t care if I have to browse with Edge and use PowerShell all day, I want it.
If secure boot is disabled though, you have effectively the easiest ARM laptops to run other OSes on - single kernel fits all because it’s UEFI and ACPI based for basic device discovery. (Drivers become the hard part then.)
(Or more accurately: if secure boot is disable-able and/or lets you enroll your own keychain. Mandatory Secure Boot is no problem if you can control the chain of trust for secure boot.)
All the major desktop OSes seem to have ARM support now (Linuxes, BSDs, Windows) except for macOS. This has to be the future, and I’m ready to embrace any ARM laptop that could run Linux, BSD, or Windows with 22 hour battery life, with the potential to connect from anywhere. Even Vivaldi has an ARM build now.
I am just thinking out of my ass here, but I wonder if the reason macOS has felt so neglected over recent years is because some of Apple’s developer resources are being put into a new ARM-compatible desktop OS. Remember how Steve was all about the per-watt stats when Apple switched from PowerPC IBM to x86 Intel processors? It’s hard to imagine that Apple has forgotten that in the years since.
I fear that for some I’m beating a dead horse here, but after the Windows telemetry “feature” and putting ads in the OS I have lost what respect Microsoft gained from embracing open source. Unless there was a drastic change in Microsoft’s (dis)respect for its users I would never even consider using their OS on principal, I don’t care what the features are.
Heck, I’m kinda disillusioned with everything and willing to give Windows a shot if those battery life claims hold up. Also eager to get my hands on the Vampire V4 for non-work stuff.