Apple switch to Intel feasible, but highly unlikely

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple Computer has been meeting with Intel, but the talks between the two companies are not likely to result in the Mac maker agreeing to switch its computers to Intel processors.



When Apple chief executive Steve Jobs was asked on Sunday night at the Wall Street Journal "D: All Things Digital" conference whether Apple would begin using Intel chips, he basically said no.



"We've had talks with Intel," said Jobs, expressing little interest in weighing the subject further.



Several hours later, a report in Monday's edition of the Journal cited two industry executives saying recent talks between the two companies would result in Apple agreeing to use Intel chips. Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy and Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment on the report, which they deemed "rumor and speculation."



In a research note commenting on the rumors, UBS Investment Research analyst Ben Reitzes this week said any move to embrace Intel could help lower Apple's cost structure, allowing it to better compete in the low-end PC market and possibly sell more software.



Still, the analyst waved caution at the report. "We have discussed this possibility with Apple management on several occasions and believe that it is possible on a technical basis," Reitzes said. "However, speculation of such a move has surfaced over the years with no outcome."



Instead, UBS is looking forward to news of Apple's more immediate and material projects, including an expected positive update on sales of its new Tiger OS during the company's World Wide Developers Conference in June. The firm also believes Apple plans to introduce several new exciting products, ranging from iPods to digital entertainment devices, later this year.



Shane Wu, an analyst for American Technical Research shared similar sentiments with his clients on Tuesday. "From a technical perspective, we believe using Intel is feasible," said Wu, who at one point claims to have been privy to demonstrations of an early version of Mac OS X running on Intel x86 chips.



"However, from a marketing standpoint, we believe using Intel x86 may prove difficult as Apple has marketed over the past 10+ years the merits of its operating system and PowerPC architecture as superior to Wintel," the analyst said. "Many of Apple's diehard loyalists view Macs (with its OS and PowerPC processor) and themselves as the Jedi knights versus the evil empire (Microsoft and Intel), or the Siths or 'darkside'."



Wu believes a switch to Intel could backfire and alienate some of Apple's most loyal customers, turning the Mac into a less differentiated and more commoditized platform. He says an often overlooked reason behind consumers choosing the Mac is its high-performance provided by PowerPC processors.



"The PowerPC architecture is superior in floating point calculations used for high-end graphics and video," said Wu. He believes this is the key reason why all three of the leading game consoles -- Sony PS3, Xbox360, and Nintendo Revolution -- will use PowerPC processors as opposed to Intel x86 chips.



Contrary to popular belief, Wu's firm, American Tech Research, does not think there is a material cost advantage to Apple in using Intel chips over IBM's PowerPC chips: "From our industry and channel checks, we believe IBM has sacrificed profitability to drive price points attractive for Apple and the game console manufacturers to use PowerPC." Besides not having to pay a tax to Microsoft for use of its operating system, low-cost processors from IBM are a key reason why Apple makes more money on each computer than most PC manufacturers, the firm said.



If Apple and Intel were planning to work together, the firm says a more likely area of collaboration would be on industry standards such as PCI Express, WiFi, gigabit ethernet and codecs such as H.264 HD video.



But perhaps the most compelling analysis of the Intel and Apple rumors comes from Kevin Krewell, editor-in-chief of the Microprocessor Report. He believes the reported talks between Apple and Intel were intentionally fed to the Wall Street Journal to motivate IBM to more quickly address low-yield and high power consumption problems with its latest PowerPC G5 processor.



"It's just too much software to have to change," Krewell said of converting the current version of Mac OS X to run smoothly on Intel processors. He believes Monday's Wall Street Journal report was simply geared towards putting more "pressure" on IBM to fix the problems with its PowerPC processor.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 80
    blizaineblizaine Posts: 239member
    just a typo....



    it's H.264 not H.274
  • Reply 2 of 80
    twotwo Posts: 17member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by AppleInsider

    "However, from a marketing standpoint, we believe using Intel x86 may prove difficult as Apple has marketed over the past 10+ years the merits of its operating system and PowerPC architecture as superior to Wintel," the analyst said. "Many of Apple's diehard loyalists view Macs (with its OS and PowerPC processor) and themselves as the Jedi knights versus the evil empire (Microsoft and Intel), or the Siths or 'darkside'."



    I call Yoda. I would join the Siths as Darth Vader but now I know what a weanie he is.

    The only point I see in all this Apple/Intel talk is for the possibility of future processors. Let IBM know that they can go somewhere else if they have to.
  • Reply 3 of 80
    placeboplacebo Posts: 5,767member
    I think you're understanding it wrong.



    Apple is trying to get Intel to make PowerPC chips with their manufacturing technology and higher clockspeeds, not get Intel chips in Macs.
  • Reply 4 of 80
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,830member
    I want my lightsaber. Preferably an Aqua version, or maybe Bondi Blue.
  • Reply 5 of 80
    apparatusapparatus Posts: 78member
    I'll take a lightsaber with a white blade...to match my iPod.



    That being said, I wouldn't be worried about Apple switching to Intel chips, I think the best is yet to come for the IBM + Apple partnership.
  • Reply 6 of 80
    hypoluxahypoluxa Posts: 673member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Apparatus

    I'll take a lightsaber with a white blade...to match my iPod.



    That being said, I wouldn't be worried about Apple switching to Intel chips, I think the best is yet to come for the IBM + Apple partnership.




    Agreed. I think the next update, whenever it happens will be good, unlike this last one. IBM I think is just marketing its product to what it knows will sell really well first, ie: game consoles. Then apple will get its priority next. With all the rumors flying around, it sounds like IBM is working on the next PPC chips for the Mac, their just bogged down I imagine with getting the console chips done and out the door. I bet the next update will be 3+ghz chip, being dual core who knows? I imagine yes, though.
  • Reply 7 of 80
    louzerlouzer Posts: 1,054member
    "From a technical perspective, we believe using Intel is feasible," said Wu, who at one point claims to have been privy to demonstrations of an early version of Mac OS X running on Intel x86 chips.



    Yeah, but we all know there's a huge (really huge) gap between showing "demonstrations of early versions" to having a fully running product. Copland was demoed year after year after year, but never got out the door.



    Oh, and there's no benefit trying to get Intel to produce powerPC chips. Its not like they would (or could) update the process or the fab to improve the chip. It would produce the same chip IBM does now.
  • Reply 8 of 80
    placeboplacebo Posts: 5,767member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Louzer

    [I] It would produce the same chip IBM does now.



    Yes, but since Intel has much more marketshare and experience, they might have better luck scaling up the same chip and getting better yields.
  • Reply 9 of 80
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Placebo

    Yes, but since Intel has much more marketshare and experience, they might have better luck scaling up the same chip and getting better yields.



    Placebo



    IBM has been making high powered chips for decades. Yes Intel has marketshare at the consumer/prosumer level down. However when you walk into a Big Iron server area you aren't seeing Intel. You're seeing POWER4 an AS/400.



    I know some of you on these boards are a bit on the younger side but I don't think you have really fathomed how massive IBM is in patent portfolio, engineering chops and flat out experience.



    Intel came from humble beginning making calculator chips and worked their way up in tandem with Microsoft. However let us not fool ourselve into thinking Intel has the resources for high end microprocessor design. One only need look at the folly that is Itanium. Although I will commend Intel for trying to push IA-64 forward by eschewing legacy design.



    Yes Intel dominates the lowend and midrange but Apple would be a fool to ditch IBM when there is so much low hanging fruit to pick from the loins of the POWER5.
  • Reply 10 of 80
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,830member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    IBM has been making high powered chips for decades.



    That's actually the problem. They don't seem to be able to fab low power chips with any great consistency, which is why the Power Mac needs an expensive industrial strength cooling system and the Powerbook is still a no-G5 zone.
  • Reply 11 of 80
    aquamacaquamac Posts: 585member
    Intel makes may chips for may things not just CPUs. It's all just no big deal.
  • Reply 12 of 80
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    If IBM doesn't get it's ass in gear and deliver by end of this year,



    I want the Kamino-ans to make the next Apple CPUs



    They whipped up a massive clone army (and just wondering... where did all the ships and hardware come from ???) in like what 10+ years?



    btw

    i wonder why the Emperor after episode 3, before episode 4, essentially stopped using clone army? it all evolved into stormtroopers, disposable tie fighters, massive fleet of star destroyers.... which is cool, but why they dropped the clones? maybe the rebels took out clone production facilities...? \
  • Reply 13 of 80
    wilcowilco Posts: 985member
    ^^^^nerd^^^^
  • Reply 14 of 80
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,910member
    Don't even think about Intel building PPC chips. Who is going to authorize it? IBM?



    With Apple looking to sell around 5 million computers this year, if sales hold up, I don't think that would be likely.



    Even if it's a joke, I don't think it would be likely.



    One thing that's true though. IBM has the #1 R&D facilities, and Intel has the #1 fabs.
  • Reply 15 of 80
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by wilco

    ^^^^nerd^^^^



    bite me.
  • Reply 16 of 80
    davidhdavidh Posts: 2member
    ^^^Forgive the continuation of OTness, but I thought the clone army of Episode III _became_ the stormtroopers of Episode IV. For example, in Episode IV Leia asks Luke "Aren't you a little short to be a stormtrooper?". However I am not a Star Wars expert, I have only seen Episode III once, and I don't mean to turn this into a Star Wars thread.
  • Reply 17 of 80
    Quote:

    Originally posted by AquaMac

    Intel makes may chips for may things not just CPUs.



    exactly...

    Everyone speculates that this is just for the main processor, but surely apple could buy chips for many different purposes. hardware H264 decompressing, enhanced multimedia doobries for new portable devices, new motherboard technologies... who knows.
  • Reply 18 of 80
    sunilramansunilraman Posts: 8,133member
    off-topic

    " ^^^Forgive the continuation of OTness, but I thought the clone army of Episode III _became_ the stormtroopers of Episode IV. For example, in Episode IV Leia asks Luke "Aren't you a little short to be a stormtrooper?". However I am not a Star Wars expert, I have only seen Episode III once, and I don't mean to turn this into a Star Wars thread."



    omigod you mean a lot (or all?) of the stormtroopers in ep 4, 5, and 6 are actually clones/descendants of boba fett's dad ??? whoa... i can't remember if we actually saw the faces of stormtroopers in episode 4, 5, 6





    ON TOPIC

    "

    exactly...

    Everyone speculates that this is just for the main processor, but surely apple could buy chips for many different purposes. hardware H264 decompressing, enhanced multimedia doobries for new portable devices, new motherboard technologies... who knows.

    "



    very good point mate. Intel providing h.264 hardware chip is a much more sensible possibility than apple porting (or worse splitting) their codebase to cater to x86 chips... or even more stupid, Intel is going to make PowerPC







    ...........................

    see? switch can be both in an ON and OFF position at the same time





    ...........................
  • Reply 19 of 80
    pbpb Posts: 4,234member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by sunilraman



    very good point mate. Intel providing h.264 hardware chip is a much more sensible possibility than apple porting (or worse splitting) their codebase to cater to x86 chips... or even more stupid, Intel is going to make PowerPC





    I just cannot understand why Apple would ask for a H.264 solution in the Intel camp when IBM has already this hardware (it is coming anyway the next months) AND Apple has in place the API abstraction. If anyone can explain that to me, I am all ears to hear.



    On the other hand, Apple could very well seek an integrated WiFi solution so that they can ditch the Airport cards from the Powerbooks. There can be other things too.
  • Reply 20 of 80
    Don't forget also that Intel is the larger GPU maker.

    Remember how the macmini motherboard is ? A real mess. Intel could help by making 1 chip for GPU, FW800, 802.11, USB, etc... This would save space, heat, and... cost of course !
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