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Apple Dumping Intel For ARM Chips In Laptops?

By - Source: Business Insider | B 73 comments

There's talk that Apple is eying ARM for notebooks and desktops, ditching Intel.

On Friday, reports surfaced that Apple officials have decided to dump Intel processors for ARM-based solutions in its upcoming MacBooks and MacBook Pros-- and possibly even Mac desktops. The transition, stated as a "done deal" by unnamed insiders, won't take place immediately, but is expected to happen "as soon as possible"-- probably in mid-2013.

According to sources, Apple is waiting for ARM architecture to move beyond the 32-bit architecture, possibly holding off for the company's upcoming Cortex-A15 processor design which is expected to hit the market in late 2012 or later. Nvidia's own ARM-based Project Denver processor, which integrates the CPU and GPU onto one die, is expected to launch in the same timeframe and will also use a 64-bit instruction set. There's speculation that Apple's plan and Nvidia's release is not a coincidence.

For Apple, moving to ARM chips would mean it would have a consistent processor architecture across all of its products. Currently the company is using Intel chips in its desktops and laptops, but ARM-based solutions in the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad tablets. The move could also signify a possible attempt to follow Microsoft's footsteps and develop one operating system that can be used across different form factors-- to offer the same OS on the iPad, iPhone, MacBook and Mac desktop.

Then again, so far ARM chips have yet to prove themselves in the PC market, remaining the dominant solution only in the mobile sector. Yet research firm IDC recently stated that it expects ARM to own 13-percent of the PC processor market by 2015. That market shift is expected to be steered by Microsoft's modular Windows 8 which could be released as early as next year.

Speculation of Apple's move to ARM arrives just days after Intel revealed its Tri-Gate transistor design which will begin to appear in 22-nm "Ivy Bridge" chips later on this year, or in Q1 2012. The new 3D transistor structure will enable Intel to increase performance while decreasing the overall chip size, power consumption and leakage. These chips are expected to put Intel in a better position to aggressively compete with ARM in the mobile sector while retaining the x86 architecture.

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  • 0 Hide
    Tomtompiper , May 6, 2011 10:53 PM
    I love saying I told you so!
  • 4 Hide
    fir_ser , May 6, 2011 10:55 PM
    Anything is possible these days, and as it appears competition is just intensifying. I hope the biggest winner will be us the consumers.
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 6, 2011 11:09 PM
    Well, I always used to chant, strongARM! and it looks like it is finally happening!
  • 5 Hide
    falchard , May 6, 2011 11:18 PM
    I think Apple switching to ARM processors is a clear sign that Apple no longer wishes to hide the fact their systems lack computational power.
  • 4 Hide
    NightLight , May 6, 2011 11:25 PM
    yeah, good luck with that
  • 4 Hide
    tomasf , May 6, 2011 11:27 PM
    earlier this week the news was that Intel was going to produce the chips for the Ipad.
  • 4 Hide
    pelov , May 6, 2011 11:34 PM
    NeuralSystemAMD is dead. But Intel's x86 vs ARM based CPUs will certainly be something to drive the research up and prices down.


    what? haha. how many years have people been saying AMD is dead? they've been recording decent profits lately, I'm sure they'd appreciate you informing them there's no reason to come in to work any longer.

    falchardI think Apple switching to ARM processors is a clear sign that Apple no longer wishes to hide the fact their systems lack computational power.



    ^^ this. I think apple wants to make a seamless transition between phone>tablet>notebook>desktop, and they don't mind losing programs and computational power to do so. Hell... they ran on RISC architecture w/o x86 before, why not now?
  • 3 Hide
    PudgyChicken , May 6, 2011 11:43 PM
    Wow. Who really cares. This is all speculation. All you're doing is giving some ignorant Apple fanboy a boner. Cause everybody knows x86 and x86_64> ARM. No matter which way you cut it. ARM can survive in two places- the mobile device sector, and the server sector, where low power consumption is necessary. I can't see ARM being big in the consumer PC market- there's not enough beef. And programs would have to be recompiled to run on the different architecture, giving devs everywhere a nice headache. Not really feasible.
  • 2 Hide
    psychotek71 , May 6, 2011 11:45 PM
    Amd can't be dead as there jumping in to bed with arm to
    we will see though ....
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 6, 2011 11:46 PM
    did you just copy this story from semiacurate?
  • 1 Hide
    yellowblue , May 6, 2011 11:46 PM
    Macbook air probably, mac mini, macbook and 13" mbp maybe. 15" and 17" mbp and mac pro nah too soon maybe 4-6 years from now. With the intel tri-gate transistors i doubt it will happen anytime soon. Clearly just a PR move to counter the intel tri-gate announcement.
  • 3 Hide
    theorland , May 6, 2011 11:57 PM
    In order to survive, I think AMD should support both platform.
  • 2 Hide
    theabsinthehare , May 7, 2011 12:07 AM
    Arm will do well in the consumer market if Apple says they will, because people who buy Apple hardware aren't concerned with the tech specs of their machine; they simply want something that works. As an "Apple Zen" fanboy myself (I mean to say I'm a fan of Apple's "vision", innovation, etc., but not of actually spending my own money on their desktop hardware), I can say that most of the people who buy their computers aren't buying them for computation heavy tasks; they're buying them for FaceTime, iLife, Garageband [it's been years and I still haven't found a decent replacement for Garageband since I switched to Windows], AngryBirds, and those sorts of things. The group of Mac users that are interested in powerful computing are going to buy a Mac Pro, and this article is only talking about laptops for the moment.
  • -2 Hide
    ares1214 , May 7, 2011 12:20 AM
    theabsinthehareArm will do well in the consumer market if Apple says they will, because people who buy Apple hardware aren't concerned with the tech specs of their machine; they simply want something that works. As an "Apple Zen" fanboy myself (I mean to say I'm a fan of Apple's "vision", innovation, etc., but not of actually spending my own money on their desktop hardware), I can say that most of the people who buy their computers aren't buying them for computation heavy tasks; they're buying them for FaceTime, iLife, Garageband [it's been years and I still haven't found a decent replacement for Garageband since I switched to Windows], AngryBirds, and those sorts of things. The group of Mac users that are interested in powerful computing are going to buy a Mac Pro, and this article is only talking about laptops for the moment.


    Hate to say it, but Id agree. Apple, whom i dont really like, is all about "elegance, design, power efficiency, style......". Nobody in their right mind buys a Mac for heavy computational tasks, unless they are into the arts (rendering, CS5, so on), where Mac features do help. If Apple made all their mobile devices ARM based by say, 2013, think of how much easier coding things would be for them. If they made everything ARM by 2015, where it will likely start to catch up to x86 in performance,it would be a brilliant move. Not only are ARM systems incredibly cheap, they are (supposedly) easier to code for, and much more power efficient. This is incredibly important for laptops. What would you rather have, an Apple Laptop that can run for 2 days straight, but not score quite as high in Cine, Sys, and so on, or an x86 that last for 7 hours and can max out those synthetics? For the average person who uses a word processor, the internet, and a few apps here and there, the choice would be clear. Not only that but this can help Apple make more money for their greedy selves, ARM systems cost less, so im sure Apple will charge the difference for "saving the enviroment with ARM efficiency".
  • -1 Hide
    Ragnar-Kon , May 7, 2011 12:25 AM
    Stupid Apple, your suppose to switch to the AMD Fusion chips in your laptops so my AMD stock skyrockets! *grumble*
    If it is true, I am rather surprised. One of their biggest selling points lately has been the ability to run Windows natively. But, having said that, Microsoft did announce ARM support on Windows 8, so maybe Apple took that into consideration.
    Still, I'm surprised. I could easily see Apple switching to AMD's new Fusion chips, especially since their computers already run AMD GPUs. But didn't see the ARM thing coming.
    PudgyChickenCause everybody knows x86 and x86_64> ARM. No matter which way you cut it. ARM can survive in two places- the mobile device sector, and the server sector, where low power consumption is necessary. I can't see ARM being big in the consumer PC market- there's not enough beef. And programs would have to be recompiled to run on the different architecture, giving devs everywhere a nice headache. Not really feasible.

    As it stands right now, I would agree with you. But the borders between desktop, mobile, and gaming electronics is QUICKLY closing.

    Eventually I think the market will be at a place where we'll see the decline of the x86 platform as RISC-based processors slowly take over. All of the current generation gaming consoles run Power-based RISC processors, and nearly every mobile electronic device runs a RISC-based processor. So really, the only market that is left is the desktop market. A couple more years of the development in the ARM platform and I think it is perfectly reasonable that we start seeing ARM chips in desktop PCs.

    So no, not like it will happen tomorrow, but I can easily see it happening in the future.
  • -2 Hide
    loomis86 , May 7, 2011 12:29 AM
    ARM is the future. As cellphones get more and more powerful, PCs will begin to have more and more cellphone-like technologies incorporated until one day they will be the same device.
  • -2 Hide
    southernshark , May 7, 2011 12:42 AM
    Apple will do it because Apple realizes that its teenage base who have grown up using IPODS and IPADS and IPHONES don't understand any other OS. They feel comfortable with the IPOD OS and that is what they want to use across the board. It does not make any sense having two systems.
  • 0 Hide
    neas , May 7, 2011 12:49 AM
    Maybe you'all should see what the anaylist said:

    In a bit of way-out speculation, analyst Gus Richard of Piper Jaffray this week said he thought that Intel was seeking to make ARM chips for Apple.

    “Based on a number of inputs, we believe Intel is also vying for Apple’s foundry business,” he said in a note to investors, which was quoted in EE Times and elsewhere.


  • 3 Hide
    waynewarrior78 , May 7, 2011 12:55 AM
    Those who think AMD is dead, must turn back time and remember INTEL during the end of the single core race. I do remember a certain AMD stomping them into the ground...

    but hey fan boys be haters as usual :/ 
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