Rumor: Apple and Intel again mulling partnership to build A-series chips

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A report on Thursday claims inside knowledge of reported negotiations between Apple and Intel, saying the chip maker may be looking to build ARM-based SoCs based for the Cupertino company's iOS device lineup.

Citing a person familiar with one of the tech giants, Reuters reported that executives have over the past year discussed a possible partnership in which Intel's foundries would be used to manufacture Apple-designed chips. A deal has not yet been reached, the source said.

Teardown A6 Close
Apple's latest A6 SoC powers the new iPhone 5. | Source: iFixit


This is not the first time rumors of an Apple-Intel partnership have cropped up. A report from May 2011 suggested that Intel showed interest in building Apple's A4 and A5 SoCs, though no action was taken and the idea was apparently shelved as the so-called Ultrabook initiative gained momentum.

Intel is supposedly looking to shift its strategy as PC sales continue to slump as mobile devices, led by tablets like Apple's iPad, continue to gobble up marketshare. The firm has been looking to expand its foundry business, most recently agreeing to fabricate silicon based on technology from chip maker Altera.

While an agreement to start production of ARM SoCs would likely undercut adoption of Intel's own Atom mobile processor, the move might be necessary to keep pace with a quickly changing market. The report also speculates that Intel's replacement for CEO Paul Otellini, who plans to retire in May, may further diversify the company's contract operations in a bid to keep manufacturing facilities working at full capacity.

As for Apple, a move to Intel is easier to imagine, as the Mac lineup already runs on x86 processors. It has also been rumored that the company wants to distance itself from current A-series SoC manufacturer Samsung, with which it is ensnarled in a worldwide patent struggle. The Korean electronics giant is also Apple's biggest competition in the mobile marketplace, with a variety of Android-based devices going jockeying for position against iOS products like the iPhone and iPad.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 69
    povilaspovilas Posts: 473member
    Head to head? You got to be kidding me.
  • Reply 2 of 69
    argonautargonaut Posts: 124member
    Interesting.. Intel stopped making their own PC motherboards recently.. They will still produce reference designs apparently, but it's obvious they are shifting strategy. Could be a win-win for both parties.
  • Reply 3 of 69
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member


    Intel is going to become a large-scale ARM licensee? Really?

  • Reply 4 of 69
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,613member
    Intel's market cap is 1.07 billion. Just saying.
  • Reply 5 of 69
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,607member


    Made In USA 


     


    That would be awesome.


     


    Go Apple, go go go...

  • Reply 6 of 69


    Quite plausible, and frankly quite excitingly so, this rumour.


     


    The perfect opportunity all round: for Apple, a high-volume, high build-quality chip heavyweight eminently capable of replacing Samsung for the fabrication of their in-house CPU and graphics chip designs. For Intel: at last a seat at the biggest game in town, and a chance to go head-to-head with mobile heavy hitters like Qualcomm, Samsung, Nvidia, Texas Instruments and Huawei.


     


    This may be the perfect fillip to send Apple's share price rocketing upwards, and draw attention away from the Nosferatu-offspring that infest Wall Street with their ill-intentioned, misguided venom, and to a well run, well-moneyed organisation with no debt, best-selling products and great plans for more in the pipeline.


     


    And yes, @AppleSauce007, made in USA...


     


     


  • Reply 7 of 69
    froodfrood Posts: 771member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post



    Intel's market cap is 1.07 billion. Just saying.


    You're about 106 billion off. :p


     


    I don't think it would make much sense for Apple to blow most of its cash buying a strained chip manufacturer.  That's just not their core business and requires a ton of specialized expertise that isn't their norm.


     


    I think Intel is a great partner for Apple- much better than TSMC.  TSMC was already almost booted by its two leading customers last year due to delivery issues.  Apple wants to become their biggest customer and put more supply on their hands?  Thats a pretty big risk and price to pay just to 'remove Samsung'.  Hate Sammy if you must, but they are great manufacturers and deliver.  Find a reliable supplier *first*, then drop Samsung.  Another factor would be that the Samsung processors are made in the USA for Apple.  Moving those jobs to Taiwan wouldn't be ideal (from both a PR and IP vantage).


    Intel is good choice.  They do processors and manufacturing very very well.  The cost difference is likely a determining factor, but Intel is a little on the ropes with the PC market what it is and they have the capacity and skills to do it NOW.  Azalea, if even real, isn't even at the point of breaking ground yet.  That would mean 2 years of construction and 6 months to another year of flaky ramp-up production.


    Intel/Apple makes a lot of sense for both.

  • Reply 8 of 69
    shompashompa Posts: 341member
    This have been impossible before, since Intel didn't have fab capacity to accommodate Apple.

    But Intel lost over 30% market share last year and their last report had that they used their fabs 50%.

    The only reason why Intel would agree to do this with Apple is if Apple signs a new 5 year deal to use X86 chips in their computers. This would hinder wide adaption of ARM in ordinary computers.

    If Apple released and ARM based computer: that would show the industry that ARM now is read.

    (I personally hope that X86 disappears. They don't even have real 64 bit, but 64 bit extentions. I used real 64bit CPUs in 1995 and a pure 64 bit OS in 1997 Solaris 7)
  • Reply 9 of 69
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

    Intel's market cap is 1.07 billion. Just saying.

     

    Everything is clear now. :smiling:
  • Reply 10 of 69
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,167member
    I just wonder what stops Intel from gaining Apple's R & D then adding the same technology to another Apple rip off product marketed through Wintel channels? I sincerely hope Apple's legal team have Intel in a headlock.
  • Reply 11 of 69
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RichL View Post


    Intel is going to become a large-scale ARM licensee? Really?



    intel has been a large-scale ARM licensee for many years already

  • Reply 12 of 69

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RichL View Post


    Intel is going to become a large-scale ARM licensee? Really?



    Intel had/has an ARM license post the Marvell divestiture, just never used it. I could have sworn I read they transferred it last year though. 


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post



    Intel's market cap is 1.07 billion. Just saying.


    What are you saying? Intel's market cap is ~108 billion. Accidental decimal?

  • Reply 13 of 69
    stupidstupid Posts: 3member
    Intel has a Major hardon for Mobile.
    Expect them to do something about it in 2013. Maybe this is it.
    They know that their Atom processors have not been "it".

    This seems like a big shift but a Very good idea for the company.
  • Reply 14 of 69
    surely any new Apple SOC will be based on a Samsung design.

    I do not really see this happening as is. Apple are more likely to use a Mediatek or Qualcomm design with TSMC or Intel doing the silicon run.
  • Reply 15 of 69

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    I just wonder what stops Intel from gaining Apple's R & D then adding the same technology to another Apple rip off product marketed through Wintel channels? I sincerely hope Apple's legal team have Intel in a headlock.


     


    Amen. The "...and boy have we patented it" statement by Steve in 2007 at the iPhone announcement was obviously misinterpreted by Google and Samsung.

  • Reply 16 of 69
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,167member
    jacktherat wrote: »
    Amen. The "...and boy have we patented it" statement by Steve in 2007 at the iPhone announcement was obviously misinterpreted by Google and Samsung.

    Their legal teams use the "Forgiveness is easier to obtain than permission" form of approach to these things where Apple IP is concerned.
  • Reply 17 of 69
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member


    deleted

  • Reply 18 of 69
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JackTheRat View Post


     


    Amen. The "...and boy have we patented it" statement by Steve in 2007 at the iPhone announcement was obviously misinterpreted by Google and Samsung.



    patents are for specific implementations of an idea, not an idea by itself

  • Reply 19 of 69
    richard getzrichard getz Posts: 1,142member
    I see another Samsung/Google in the making as now Intel will have the technology knowhow to build new designs of their own chips. It's one thing for a Fab company, but Intel manufactures their own chips and those chips goes into devices that compete against Apple.

    "As for Apple, a move to Intel is easier to imagine, as the Mac lineup already runs on x86 processors."

    That makes no sense at all. It might be easier as Apple currently buys chips from Intel, but being the Mac is x86 has nothing to do with the ARM.
  • Reply 20 of 69
    ksecksec Posts: 1,554member
    Unless this deal was zealed and done two years ago, otherwise the chance of next SoC coming from Intel is pretty slim. And in terms of Low Power SoC design intel just isn't up there against TSMC.

    The rumors suggest that may be Intel is start talking to Apple again. Empty Fab Space is expensive. And Ultrabook, Netbook never caught on, PC market has been shrinking for a long time and it is actually shrinking faster then they could imagine. If it wasn't for DataCenter and HPC's huge profit margin i did expect Intel have agreed to the deal already.

    And If Atom never really worked out, ( It is actually quite good on 32nm LP ) Then Intel could at least fill up their Fab Space with a Customer that is never going to compete with them. ( Apple )
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