Rumor: Apple dumping Intel for ARM processors in 2013

Rumor: Apple dumping Intel for ARM processors in 2013

Summary: A new rumor suggests that Apple will be dropping Intel CPUs from its line of MacBooks and MacBook Pros, replacing them with ARM-based chips.

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When Apple switched to Intel processors in 2006 the move was a tectonic shift for developers allowing Macs to run four classes of software (Mac OS X, Java/.NET, Unix and Win32/x86) at near native speeds.

Five years later Apple appears to be making another shift -- this time away from Intel processors.

According to anonymous sources of technology news site SemiAccurate (love the name!) Apple will be dropping Intel CPUs from its line of MacBooks and MacBook Pros, replacing them with ARM-based chips. The site boldly states that it's already "a done deal" but the move isn't expected anytime soon.

The short story is that Apple is moving the laptop line, and presumably desktops too, to ARM based chips as soon as possible. With A15/Eagle allowing more than 32-bit memory access, things look up, but it seems silly to do so before the full 64 bit cores come in the following generation. Nvidia is directly telling certain favored analysts that they will have Denver out in Q4 of 2012, maybe Q1/2013, and that uses the full on 64-bit ARM instruction set. It won’t be out by then, but that gives you a good estimation of when that ISA will break cover from one vendor or other. Think mid-2013.

SemiAccurate’s moles tell them that Apple plans to switch its notebook line to ARM at about that same time. The site goes on to say that Apple is desperately searching for fab capacity from Samsung, Global Foundries, and TSMC.

There's a certain amount of logic to the move.

Apple acquired ARM chip maker P.A. Semi in April 2008 for around $300 million in cash which Steve Jobs then explained as a way to acquire expertise and technology to help run increasingly sophisticated software on iPhones and iPods. Shortly thereafter Apple acquired ARM core experts Intrinsity for a reported $121 million. Then in 2009 Apple hired two former CTOs from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

In April 2010 all the talk was about how Apple could/would/should acquire ARM.

Many questions remain. For example, if Apple indeed moves to ARM will it use its own core, a Samsung core, or the generic ARM black box?

If the report pans out to be true, x86 could be history on Apple notebooks in 2-3 years. Can the desktops be far behind?

Via: CNet

Topics: ARM, Apple, Hardware, Intel, Processors

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17 comments
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  • Stupid rumour: even ARM A15 will be way slower than top Intel's CPUs; ARM

    ... is miles away from competing with Intel in mid/high-end CPUs, which are needed for Apple for their Macintosh business. And even when ARM will come up with 64-bit core in two years, Intel will be so far away that it will not make sense to move much more performance-oriented Macintosh business to ARM either.<br><br>And, this that transition Apple would not only loose all of current Macintosh software, which would need to be recompiled, but also loose IA32/IA64 Windows compatibility, going back to slow emulation mode (Windows 8 for ARM will not solve that since it will have the same problem).
    DDERSSS
  • RE: Rumor: Apple dumping Intel for ARM processors in 2013

    Mac users are technically equivalent to toasters which you stuff slices of bread in and out!!
    brettze
    • Amen ...

      LOL
      LBiege
    • Classy.

      @brettze You're a funny, classy guy, no doubt.
      lostarchitect
    • Toasters?

      @brettze....Linux is going to rule the world!!!! Right? 25 years in IT has shown me that you provide the tools for the job and Mac's are pretty good tools for a number of jobs. I run a dynamic network with 3 flavors of linux, Windows and Macs and we get the job done. The poor, pretend, propeller-heads that suffer with your snobbery probably run Macs at home and just suffer with your "one size fits all" attitude at work.
      rbrinkworth
      • RE: Rumor: Apple dumping Intel for ARM processors in 2013

        @rbrinkworth

        Agreed, I hate snobby fanboys.
        MichaelWells
  • so what they are really saying...

    they think that Apple wants to kill off the whole Mac line and then make new iOS devices like Laptops and Desktops...<br><br>Even if they keep the Mac name on them, it would be shooting themselves in the foot. No this might be a speculative plan they have been thinking about putting into effect if many things happen right, but with current tech, and the direction of current tech, this would totally kill most of their Mac business.

    People weathered and ended up enjoying the PPC to Intel transition not because of Apple, but because it was Intel. Going to ARM doesn't have the same promises of performance and compatibility.
    doh123
  • If this happens!!

    If this happens, time to switch to Windows.
    MichaelWells
    • RE: Rumor: Apple dumping Intel for ARM processors in 2013

      @MichaelWells I agree and that would be tragic for those of us who, after many years of Windows have truly enjoyed the Mac in our photographic and other activities.

      In light f the moves Apple has made to date this would be a 180 .. doesn't seem to fit their M.O.
      781lc
      • RE: Rumor: Apple dumping Intel for ARM processors in 2013

        @781lc

        I tend to think that this is just a negotiating ploy with Intel. Also take heart, if you have to switch back to Windows; as much as I hate to admit it, Windows 7 is a very good OS and I have a very good desktop Windows 7 in my office, which I really like. I got tower, very nice monitor and all for $699.
        MichaelWells
  • RE: Rumor: Apple dumping Intel for ARM processors in 2013

    ARM processors are not powerful enough by themselves but of they get to them into a multicore configuration then you can have something. However for the developers and manufactures who put so much effort into the Intel platform in such short time change to a new processor will definitely scream at this.
    phatkat
  • RE: Rumor: Apple dumping Intel for ARM processors in 2013

    It would be a suicidal move on the part of Apple if they moved to ARM. ARM is *JUST NOW* ramping up to a 64 bit instruction set!<br><br>Intel is about to start ramping up their 22nm their 3D/"tri-gate" transistor fabs.<br><br>And quite possibly the move to 128-bit might not be that far off on the horizon. By that time, ARM will be light-years behind.
    pauldoyle98@...
    • Agreed

      @pauldoyle98@...

      Very smart insight. I will jump ship to Windows 7 if I have to. Your point is well taken, not to mention all of the legacy issues they would have. Power PC is already on life support for most applications and that would put Intel Based Macs on the same boat, not very smart for a smart company. Has to be a bargaining ploy.
      MichaelWells
    • One Last Thing

      @pauldoyle98@...

      Of course I never thought that Apple would stick some of their MacBook Pros with Intel only integrated graphics. Of course the fact that the 13" Pro has never had a discrete graphics card should disqualify it from the "Pro" line anyway.
      MichaelWells
  • RE: Rumor: Apple dumping Intel for ARM processors in 2013

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  • RE: Rumor: Apple dumping Intel for ARM processors in 2013

    For the developers and manufactures who put so much effort into the Intel <a href="http://katalogsirius.info/">platform</a> in such short time change to a new processor will definitely scream at this.
    marco5811
  • RE: Rumor: Apple dumping Intel for ARM processors in 2013

    I like Intel and I'm satisfied with it's performance on the Macbook. I can't think if Apple's new <a href="http://www.businessplansample.ca">business plan sample</a> with ARM processors would be a good idea. But I hope that this would not make users to <a href="http://www.slip-and-fall.ca">slip and fall</a> back to Windows because Apple change their processors. However, I also think Apple wouldn't do some drastic change if they think this would cause an <a href="http://www.aclinjury.ca">acl injury</a> to their computer sales.
    melayr