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Apple wants to move Macs away from Intel chips - report

post #1 of 220
Thread Starter 
Apple has reportedly "deliberated" moving its lineup of Mac computers away from Intel processors, though such a change apparently isn't "imminent."

The details come from a profile of Apple's current state under CEO Tim Cook published Wednesday by Bloomberg Businessweek. Citing two unnamed people familiar with Apple's discussions, the report indicated that Apple would like to move away from Intel's CPUs in its Macs.

"Such a shift would be difficult and isn't imminent, though it would allow Apple to further distinguish its laptops and desktops from competitors that run Intel's chips and Microsoft's Windows software," authors Brad Stone, Adam Satariano and Peter Burrows wrote.

Apple's interest in moving away from Intel is not new, but Wednesday's report is an indication that the desire still exists at the company. AppleInsider first reported in 2010 that Apple had discussions with Intel's chief competitor, AMD, about switching to its chips for future Macs.

Apple previously differentiated its Mac lineup from Windows PCs by utilizing PowerPC chips built by IBM. But in 2005, Apple announced it would switch to Intel microprocessors for all of its Mac hardware. The transition was complete by August of 2006, and starting with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in 2009, support for legacy PowerPC Macs no longer existed.

Intel


While Intel currently powers Apple's Mac lineup, the company is absent from Apple's more popular iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad. Intel has instead pushed its own "Atom" processors for mobile devices, but tests have shown that Apple's latest A6 CPU found in the iPhone 5 outperforms Atom.

While AMD would be an option if Apple were to abandon Intel, Apple has made headway in designing its own custom silicon for the iPhone and iPad. Earlier this year, rumors suggested Apple was looking to use its own ARM processors in upcoming iterations of the MacBook, especially in power-critical applications like the thin-and-light MacBook Air.

Wednesday's report also revealed that late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs considered removing Google search from iOS. However, he and the company ultimately decided against that route, as they felt it would upset users too greatly.
post #2 of 220
not a good idea
post #3 of 220

Mac Pro (Early 2013) will be run on two A6 chips. Clocked at a whopping 1.4GHz and utilizing a full 2GB of RAM, they'll be the powerhouse that no one wanted. But thin!

 

Joking aside, I do like that Apple's getting into chip design themselves. Years ago, I imagined that doing that would be the final step in truly optimizing a hardware-software ecosystem. 

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

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post #4 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

... Intel has ... pushed its own "Atom" processors for mobile devices, but tests have shown that Apple's latest A6 CPU found in the iPhone 5 outperforms Atom. ...

 

This should probably read:

 

"... tests have shown that almost any ARM based chip, even non customised versions, are significantly faster and more efficient than any Atom chip yet made."

 

would be closer to reality. 

post #5 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

This should probably read:

"... tests have shown that almost any ARM based chip, even non customised versions, are significantly faster and more efficient than any Atom chip yet made."

would be closer to reality. 

That's not true, is it? From what I've seen, the Atom based smartphones are at the top of the Android heap performance-wise. Maybe not the fastest, but not terribly slow either.
post #6 of 220

deleted


Edited by MacRulez - 1/21/13 at 3:11pm
post #7 of 220

So what did Intel do to piss off Apple?

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post #8 of 220
My bet is ARM.
post #9 of 220
Poor reporting as a move to AMD is not a move away from i86 architecture. For some machines, like the Mini AMD could be seen as an improvement.

However I see the whole article as bogus. Apples teaming with Intel has left them with significant advantages. It is almost as if somebody is pulling the reporters chain.
post #10 of 220
Defies logic for Apple to move out of Intel chips after dragging its customers through the pain of moving into Intel chips a few years ago. I also see no benefit and a major downside to chucking the ability to run Windows smoothly on a Mac.

I say, as a well run company, Apple regularly goes through an exercise to see if it makes sense to drop Intel CPUs, and someone picked up on this and blew it way out of proportion.
post #11 of 220

While a switch to another brand (AMD) would not hurt Apple, I would see the move away from an x86 / 64_x86 processor being a major step backwards.  One of the major causes of the resurgence of the Mac in Business is Bootcamp/Parallels/VMWare.  The abiility to "Fall back" to Windows is a major selling point to businesses and a lot of consumers.  Even if they never do it, just knowing that they can allows them to take the leap.  While Steve would typically ignore business, Tim at least listens to the needs of business. 

 

Do I believe that they are looking into it?  Yes (you need to look no further that how they prepared for the switch to Intel for evidence of this)

 

Do i believe that they will actually do it? No  (However if WinRT does take off and develops a strong library of applications, Apple MAY also release an ARM version of OSX to answer back.  This is the only remote scenario where I see Apple actually making an ARM OSX machine) 

post #12 of 220
This would be a huge mistake as Mac Sales have gone up since the switch to Intel. Consumers wanted the option to load Windows natively if they choose so to be compatible with other computers.

Right now, Microsoft still has a majority of the market share. Apple would have to have greater market share before making this drastic of a move. The need to run Windows in a virtual environment would need to be diminished before hand. Everyone knows what running emulation was like in the PowerPC days and it sucked.
post #13 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

I say, as a well run company, Apple regularly goes through an exercise to see if it makes sense to drop Intel CPUs, and someone picked up on this and blew it way out of proportion.

 

Well said, though I would change it slightly to "makes sense to switch ANY supplier". Apple depends on suppliers delivering cutting edge tech reliably and in large quantity. Currently that means Intel for Macs.

post #14 of 220
Apple moving to their own chips is a no-brainer. We have a phone that's faster than some laptops.
post #15 of 220

wow! This would be a horrific move for Apple.  The PowerPC was one of the biggest blunders Apple ever made.  Intel leads in chip design and performance but more importantly they have the best manufacturing capability.  You can't sell computers if you cannot get chips made.  The PowerPC era which many here may not remember was riddled with lack of R&D and huge supply constraints. Apple was held hostage by this.

 

If they tried to move away from Intel they have to fight a losing chip speed battle and face supply issues.   Steve Jobs brought Intel back and that was a bold and smart move.  To unwind this now would be one of very few strategic moves that would force me to sell my long held Apple shares.  If they do this it clearly tells me they are on the wrong track and headed down the old PowerPC rabbit hole again.

 

On laptops and desktops marketing and speeds matter.  Apple tried to always sell that the PowerPC with its slower clock speeds was faster than the Intel chips which had much much faster clock speeds.  The public does not get this.  Speed is speed to them.  4Ghz is faster than 3Ghz, period.  Benchmarks don't work with consumers.

 

I hope this is just a rumor and Cook isn't about to make one of the biggest mistakes post Jobs era.

post #16 of 220
Apple says this same thing every couple years as they re-negotiate terms with Intel. There's no way in hell they'd go with AMD, unless they decided to buy them outright and try to turn the company around, and while ARM is a possibility (what with the supposed ARM-based MacBook Air prototype talked about a year or so ago) I'd doubt it'll happen any time soon. Intel is (rightly) seen as a producer of a premium product, like Apple, and if Apple were to migrate to something else it would almost certainly be criticized.
post #17 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by willgonz View Post

This would be a huge mistake as Mac Sales have gone up since the switch to Intel. Consumers wanted the option to load Windows natively if they choose so to be compatible with other computers.

Do you have any evidence to back this up? Like for example, what percentage of Mac users actually utilize Boot Camp or a Virtualization solution like VMWare or Parallels? I'd be surprised if it were higher than 5%.

post #18 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

So what did Intel do to piss off Apple?

 

"Ultrabook, inspired by Intel" ?

post #19 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

So what did Intel do to piss off Apple?

 

Ooh, I don't know ... maybe 'doing a Samsung' on the MacBook Air with the Ultrabook.

post #20 of 220

Of course Apple has "deliberated" over this. It would imprudent not to. But talking about something is very different from committing to doing it. They likely have discussed other ideas like acquiring ARM, using E-paper or AMOLED, etc. They might even have deliberated on flying to the moon ...

post #21 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

So what did Intel do to piss off Apple?

Ultrabooks 

post #22 of 220
Keep whatever future CPU x86 compatible, and I'm all for it. Personally, I think Apple would do a far better job than Intel would. Intel lateness in introducing certain chips and chipsets have cramped Apple in the past.

I use both my iMac and MBA to run Windows and that is a necessity. I hope Apple doesn't leave us in the dust.
post #23 of 220

I hope this is false. They could move to AMD but their processors are not in line with Intel performance wise. As long as AMD isn't able to catch up with Intel, it would be a bad move.

Moving to ARM... maybe but I guess it would be a very unpopular move. The move from PowerPC to Intel was right once the PPC processors were lagging behind Intel ones but Intel are still on top in performance and are the best Apple can get in their computers.

post #24 of 220
I don't see a safe landing space for Apple here. ARM is years away from having consumer class hardware beyond the mobile space.

AMD could be purchased for a pittance but does Apple really want to get into head to head competition with Intel?

Lastly virtualization is very key to Apple products being sold in Enterprise. Not saying it cannot be done with Apple homegrown solutions but a different architecture makes that endeavor much harder.
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He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
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post #25 of 220

This seems like a bad idea in the short to medium term. Intel's process technology is just so far ahead of everyone else that they can more than make up for x86's apparent performance-per-watt disadvantage to ARM. If Intel can ever get their act together and include some AMD-quality integrated graphics, they'll be invincible in the medium power-budget laptop market. 

 

On the other hand, we've seen from the iPhone/iPad that the processor is less and less important in many consumer applications, while the GPGPU hardware makes more of a difference. If Apple's willing to bet that people who do depend on CPU performance (like those of us compiling all the time) will either stick around because of the industrial design or aren't enough of the market to care, they could transition to ARM whenever they want to. They can always switch back if it doesn't work out (of course, the SDK is crucial here).

post #26 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

Ultrabooks 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevt View Post

Ooh, I don't know ... maybe 'doing a Samsung' on the MacBook Air with the Ultrabook.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonteponte View Post

"Ultrabook, inspired by Intel" ?

I don't keep up to date on Windows tech apparently. Anyway, I really don't care about being able to run Windows on a Mac, although, I can understand how it could be a benefit to some. I always have a Win box around the office anyway. As long as OS X is still running UNIX and compatible with Adobe CS it will be fine with me. I'm assuming the performance would also be improved, which is the big question. Can they really build their own chip that performs better than Intel's?

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post #27 of 220
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
So what did Intel do to piss off Apple?

 

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #28 of 220

It would be amusing to see a slide "OSX has really been living a triple life all along" but I don't see it happening.

 

ARM does what it does well, x86 does what it does well. Intel has the best fabrication in world, period. AMD would be a step backwards, heck Apple is back to using nVidia for graphics too in the new rMBP. As for a switch to ARM for OSX it makes little to no sense.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

This should probably read:

 

"... tests have shown that almost any ARM based chip, even non customised versions, are significantly faster and more efficient than any Atom chip yet made."

 

would be closer to reality. 

 

I would do a little more reading. These aren't those craptastic netbook Atom chips anymore. Intel's made solid advancements with Medfield. It's only slightly short of current gen ARM.  http://www.engadget.com/2012/09/18/motorolas-razr-i-benchmarks-intel-2ghz-medfield/

I'm not a pessimist. I'm an optimist, with experience.
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I'm not a pessimist. I'm an optimist, with experience.
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post #29 of 220

If the MAC loses the ability to run Virtual Microsoft OS and I will no longer own one.....

 

Sorry, but the reality is that the vast majority of Business still use Windows Software and will for the for seeable future....

 

This would kill MAC sales in my opinion...

post #30 of 220
Obviously someone at Apple needed some negotiating power with Intel -- hence, the leak. True or not, I imagine there are a few execs at Intel who are not willing to "bet the farm" that the news is outright false.
post #31 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zandros View Post


That's not true, is it? From what I've seen, the Atom based smartphones are at the top of the Android heap performance-wise. Maybe not the fastest, but not terribly slow either.

 

I'm generalising of course but I'm pretty sure my version is a lot closer to the truth than the original in the article.  Even back in the very beginning of iPhone mania in 2007, Intel was asserting their Atoms were the best, but actual testing showed they lagged quite a bit behind even the ARM chips of those days which are far slower than what we have today.  I would also doubt that Intel could have pushed the performance of the Atom further in the intervening time than the development of the ARM solutions which has been rapid and steep.  Also, Atom may be fast(ish) now, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's efficient.  

post #32 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

So what did Intel do to piss off Apple?

Well, for one, they subsidized the development of MacBook Air knock offs by offering a $100million ultrabook development fund so vendors could come close to matching Apple's pricing.

post #33 of 220
I think it's inevitable especially since AMD demonstrated this.......
http://news.softpedia.com/news/AMD-Demonstrates-Fanless-A10-5700K-Trinity-System-296214.shtml
post #34 of 220
Apple was able to get Oracle to build a version for OSX but that stopped with an early version of 10. Compatibility with enterprise unix applications doesn't seem to matter since they aren't getting anywhere with the largest one. I understand the desire to have Windows capability but I'm not so sure that would keep Apple from abandoning intel chips (which ones are we talking about, only the CPU or everything?). As for customized AMD CPUs for desktops, I have been waiting for an ARM-based cluster desktop with a boatload of A-type chips. Look at how small the iPhone 5 motherboard is and envision twenty of those in a Mac Pro half it's current size. Would it satisfy power users? Would Thunderbolt operate external x86 boxes for a mini-Windows box? Is the graphic driver found in an iPhone 5 powerful enough to scale to a desktop system (multiple drivers or a larger one)? Could we start with a dual A6 in a MBP that comes with SIM-slot-technology for adding additional A6s?

I doubt Apple will be selling the same type of computer in five years that we're using today so thinking about the future is definitely something Apple has to do today.
post #35 of 220

Do you think Apple is also ready to give up Thunderbolt? As I recall that requires Intel chip set, right?

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post #36 of 220
AMD has shown off a fanless HTPC using the A10-5700K. I think that the small form factor that this enables would be a good thing (especially with it's low power consumption) for future Mac systems. I'm no AMD fanboy either. I built my own i5-3570k based gaming rig and couldn't be happier with it. Hopefully this is possible with the "non-K" processors in the A10 line. I think it is safe to say Apple will never use an unlocked CPU.

As for Thunderbolt- http://www.techpowerup.com/158480/AMD-Demonstrates-Trinity-APU-Its-Own-Thunderbolt-Alternative.html
Edited by BulletSpongeRTR - 10/3/12 at 9:10am
post #37 of 220

If apple were to put their own custom-designed ARM chips in Macs, here is how it would happen:

 

1. Apple would design a 64 bit ARM processor.

2. That processor would first be used in Apple's data centers -- we wouldn't hear about it for years

3. Once Apple was satisfied with the processor, it would introduce it to outside customers at the high end. Perhaps Apple would make a "render farm in a box" and sell it to people who need a lot of CPU power for very specific software packages. 

4. If step 3 works out, then Apple could slowly migrate the processor into consumer Macs. 

post #38 of 220

How about they are planning on porting iOS over to the desktop/laptop side. Then they start using their custom designed chips.

 

Dont tell me there isnt an iOS powered imac sitting in the lab.  And dont get me wrong, I am not talking about touch powered. It might have keyboard and cursor interface just as OSX has today

on newly modified apps.

post #39 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by thataveragejoe View Post

 

I would do a little more reading. These aren't those craptastic netbook Atom chips anymore. Intel's made solid advancements with Medfield. It's only slightly short of current gen ARM.  http://www.engadget.com/2012/09/18/motorolas-razr-i-benchmarks-intel-2ghz-medfield/

 

This is just raw performance specs which doesn't tell you a lot really. I was talking primarily about efficiency, and also "faster" in the context of actually making an OS faster, not just pushing pixels on a test. 

 

Also, the A6 (admittedly the "top of the line" ARM chip and perhaps not representative of general ARM advances), wastes the performance of the Atom chip device you point to, doubling or halving all those scores, because it's literally twice as powerful, which is a pretty rare thing and a hard obstacle for Atom adoption to overcome.  

 

The only manufacturers using Atoms in the near future will be those that are paid to do so, or Microsoft.  There doesn't seem to be much of a point to adopting Atom for anyone else. 

post #40 of 220

Well that sucks if it comes to fruition.  I like using Fusion.

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