Apple threatened Intel with 'wake-up call' over chip power consumption

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Officials at Apple were at at one point so unsatisfied with power consumption levels of Intel's processors that they threatened to end their partnership with the chipmaker, if the problems were not addressed.



The revelation was shared by Greg Welch, director of Intel's Ultrabook group, with The Wall Street Journal. He said that Apple gave Intel a "real wake-up call" when the Mac maker threatened to end their business relationship.



Apple officials told Intel that the chipmaker needed to "drastically slash its power consumption," or else Apple would turn elsewhere for chips. The threats were said to have helped spur Intel's interest in creating its new Ultrabook specification.



As announced earlier this week, Intel Capital, the strategic investment arm of the world's largest chipmaker, will invest $300 million in a new "Ultrabook fund" to invest in new technologies. Intel is pushing manufacturers to build thin-and-light notebooks that aim to challenge Apple's MacBook Air.



As Intel has pushed to get its Ultrabook specification off the ground, the chipmaker's partners are said to have struggled keeping their ultraportable notebooks under a price of $1,000. Apple's entry-level 11.6-inch MacBook Air sells for $999, and is one of the company's most popular notebooks.



For years, rumors suggested that Apple would transition the iPhone to the Atom architecture, but the change failed to materialize as Intel struggled with managing power consumption. The Atom processor was also said to be utilized in early prototypes of the iPad as far back as 2008.







Unsatisfied with the power consumption levels of Intel's Atom platform, Apple instead turned to ARM for its iPhone and iPad processors. The company also bought ARM design companies PA Semi and Intrinsity, both key acquisitions that allowed Apple to create the custom A4 processor found in the iPhone 4 and first-generation iPad, as well as the dual-core A5 processor found in the iPad 2.



As for its Mac lineup, as recently as 2010 there were indications that Apple and Intel's rival AMD were engaged in initial discussions about the possibility of Apple adopting AMD chips. More recently, there has even been speculation that Apple could merge iOS with Mac OS X with Macs based on an anticipated A6 processor starting in 2012.
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Comments

  • formerarsgmformerarsgm Posts: 191member
    I'm at at my computer amazed that the proof reading isn't a little better. C'mon guys!



    UPDATE: You fixed it. Quick!
  • paulmjohnsonpaulmjohnson Posts: 1,377member
    It's going to be extremely interesting to see what happens with the A6 processor. Intel have had such incredible dominance for so many years, and with the exception of a couple of blips here and there they have generally been in the technology lead, that I wonder if they will have the know-how to deal with shrinking market share if it were to happen.
  • sflocalsflocal Posts: 3,541member
    20+ years of this and it took a company that didn't even use Intel chips for most of its existence to tell Intel to get its act together.



    There should be more gratitude from the whiners and iHaters towards Apple for shaking up the industry and getting things done!



    About time Intel!
  • paulmjohnsonpaulmjohnson Posts: 1,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    20+ years of this and it took a company that didn't even use Intel chips for most of its existence to tell Intel to get its act together.



    There should be more gratitude from the whiners and iHaters towards Apple for shaking up the industry and getting thing done!



    About time Intel!



    It does beg the question of what HP and Dell and such like had been doing over the years. They were buying the sort of quantities Apple do - what did they use their leverage for, or did they just blindly use whatever Intel told them to?
  • shenshen Posts: 434member
    I honestly don't see how the A6 could ever produce enough raw horsepower for even the MBA let alone the real workhorses, so that rumor still seems insane...



    But it is more insane that intel needed Apple to tell them that power consumption (and heat) are big concerns for laptops. Even the newly improved chips like the one in my laptop run far too hot. And they needed to be told this?



    ...and that one of the lead tech companies. Pathetic.
  • jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,936member
    I don't know if Intel ever really targeted the phone market very seriously or to any degree of success with their x86 derivative chips. You can wedge something in, but that wasn't the focus of the architecture. It's been a long time since ARM was a serious contender with desktop & notebooks. Trying to meet both kinds of devices with the same instruction set means compromises somewhere, trying to be a jack of both trades, but short mastering neither.
  • mister snitchmister snitch Posts: 580member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post


    It does beg the question of what HP and Dell and such like had been doing over the years. They were buying the sort of quantities Apple do - what did they use their leverage for, or did they just blindly use whatever Intel told them to?



    Reading between the lines, it appears you know the answer already, you crafty fellow.
  • drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    LOL, if I was Intel I'd tell whoever complains about my chips to write more efficient software.
  • robin huberrobin huber Posts: 2,799member
    Be careful what you wish for. Apple leans on Intel, Intel responds, but then goes out and leads the opposing army. A little passive-aggressive f.u. from Intel--"you can threaten us, but we'll make you pay." Maybe Apple should be continuing those talks with AMD.
  • danv2danv2 Posts: 23member
    Its not so hard to imagine a system that has multiple ARM chips operating at only a fraction of the wattage of an Intel system. Three ARM chips each with a quad core could easily outperform the solo Intel chip I bet. Their best chip consumes 14 watts according to the Wall Street Journal today. ARM's chips consume a fraction of 1 watt. Hell, four or FIVE ARM chips on a board would still HEAVILY outperform Intel's lowest power offerings.



    Everyone always wants to just think "one chip, multi-core" but what about "multiple chips, with multiple cores."
  • jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,936member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shen View Post


    I honestly don't see how the A6 could ever produce enough raw horsepower for even the MBA let alone the real workhorses, so that rumor still seems insane...



    But it is more insane that intel needed Apple to tell them that power consumption (and heat) are big concerns for laptops. Even the newly improved chips like the one in my laptop run far too hot. And they needed to be told this?



    ...and that one of the lead tech companies. Pathetic.



    I agree, but I wonder if that's a marketing problem. Decreasing power consumption increases cost, decreases speed, or both. People don't want to think they bought a pokey computer, but they don't realize that there are consequences for that.
  • leonardleonard Posts: 528member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by danv2 View Post


    Everyone always wants to just think "one chip, multi-core" but what about "multiple chips, with multiple cores."



    There's only so many cores you can use (you can only thread stuff so much), after that you need speed and not cores!
  • danv2danv2 Posts: 23member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Leonard View Post


    There's only so many cores you can use (you can only thread stuff so much), after that you need speed and not cores!



    Grand Central Dispatch. Solves that problem. At least in my head...I'm not sure in paper or practice. So take that with a big grain of salt.
  • shenshen Posts: 434member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post


    LOL, if I was Intel I'd tell whoever complains about my chips to write more efficient software.



    no matter how efficient your software, if the chip runs hot and draws power at low idles, it won't work in a laptop. Intel has built more than a few chips that meet that description.
  • gwlaw99gwlaw99 Posts: 134member
    Intel has too much money and resources in R&D to ever let ARM chips catch up unless Apple invested billions--which they could, but that is not really an Apple-type business.
  • shenshen Posts: 434member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    I agree, but I wonder if that's a marketing problem. Decreasing power consumption increases cost, decreases speed, or both. People don't want to think they bought a pokey computer, but they don't realize that there are consequences for that.



    The other solution is to do more with less, cut out the unused OS parts and making multitasking work for the typical user rather than the guy who watches two videos while IMing and playing a video game. Optimize the system to do what real people do in the way they really do it rather than letting it run as if Moore's law will always bail them out.



    If you make an OS like that and built hardware to suit it, what would you get?



    Oh yeah, it is called an iPad, and it doesn't need an intel workhorse. I guess Apple was planning ahead all along.
  • cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by danv2 View Post


    Grand Central Dispatch. Solves that problem. At least in my head...I'm not sure in paper or practice. So take that with a big grain of salt.



    More like an entire tub of sea-salt There is no magic bullet for threading and concurrency, tools such as GCD can help, but they're not going to turn a single threaded process into something that can utilize ten cores.
  • nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Intel is saying this publicly—I don’t think this something “against” Intel, it’s just an interesting (and positive) detail of the Apple/Intel collaboration. Intel is GLAD to have a partner that pushes them in directions they didn’t see on their own. Remember how they’d been courting Apple for so long before the Intel switch? They loved the idea of a fast-moving company (that makes hardware and software both) that would allow Intel’s innovations to shine in a way that Microsoft and the generic box-makers were never going to do. Unless, possibly, Apple paved the way first! Intel benefits greatly from having a less conservative, more innovative computing partner. (Thunderbolt being an obvious recent example.)



    P.S. I really love the new Air; I don’t how much is the new Intel chips, and how much is simply having an SSD, but this tiny thing is shockingly fast! I can’t use any other computer without being annoyed. There just isn’t any waiting... it really does feel like the best of iPad plus the best of Mac.
  • SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 25,342member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FormerARSgm View Post


    I'm at at my computer amazed that the proof reading isn't a little better. C'mon guys!



    UPDATE: You fixed it. Quick!



    "I'm at at my computer..."?
  • gustavgustav Posts: 806member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by danv2 View Post


    Grand Central Dispatch. Solves that problem. At least in my head...I'm not sure in paper or practice. So take that with a big grain of salt.



    No, it doesn't. GCD is just a convenient method to parallelize a computing task. It doesn't make a non-parellizable task suddenly parallelizable. If the task isn't capable of being parallelized, then it can't be done in GCD.



    There's also the overhead in managing the different processes too. This is what GCD does, and it isn't free - it does take CPU time.
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