RUMOR: Apple’s next-gen Macs to get custom chipset architecture with little or no Intel inside

“A new generation of personal computers on the way from Apple Inc. may sport some of the most significant architectural changes since the Mac maker made the jump from PowerPC processors to those manufactured by Intel Corp.,” Kasper Jade reports for AppleInsider.

“As part of its move to Intel chips in early 2006, the Cupertino-based company largely abandoned its practice of using custom motherboard chipsets to support the primary CPU in its Macs. Instead, it began to rely on slightly tweaked versions of industry-standard chipsets offered by Intel to the broad range of PC manufacturers that develop Intel-powered systems,” Jade reports.

“However, with Apple striving to maintain Mac sales growth of more than two times the industry average, it’s again looking to differentiate the architecture of its personal computer systems through alternative technology that will afford it an advantage beyond the reach of its competition,” Jade reports.

“As such, people familiar with these plans say an upcoming generation of Macs, lead by a trio of redesigned notebooks, won’t adopt the Montevina chipset announced as part of Intel’s Centrino 2 mobile platform earlier this month. What’s more, those same people suggest the chipset employed by the new wave of Macs may have little or nothing to do with Intel at all,” Jade reports.

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: We are talking chipsets, not processors. Possibilities discussed in AppleInsider’s full article include Intel CPUs with Apple-designed proprietary chipsets and/or new relationship with AMD, NVidia or Via chipset makers.

Arnold Kim writes for MacRumors, “This does not mean that Apple will be moving away from Intel’s processors. The chipsets are simply the support chips required to interconnect the processor and the rest of the computer. Intel’s Montevina platform (now known as Centrino 2) consists of a Penryn processor, the Montevina chipset and wireless networking interface. Future laptops will continue to use Intel’s most recent Penryn processors which provide improved bus-speeds (1066MHz). To the customer, Apple’s decision to use 3rd party or custom chipsets is not of great significance, as all the chipsets should be functionally identical.”

Full article here.

“We are working to develop new products that contain technologies that our competition will not be able to match.” – Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer, July 21, 2008


  1. The product transition isn’t for the new MacBooks at all. MacBooks will retain the Intel chipset. The new product transition has to do with the iTele Apple’s soon to announce. After all, how can any other company compete with an Apple built personal Teleportation system like the iTele.

  2. Olternaut is correct, but there is one worrisome thing.

    The Operating System must communicate with these chipsets in order to work. One reason Windows works on your MacBook, for example, is that it knows how to talk to an Intel X3100 graphics processor. But I doubt Windows will know how to talk to a custom Apple graphics processor. Who’s going to write the Windows driver?

  3. Apple will not move from Intel it has been the fuel for all the growth they have been enjoying.

    As for “Driver”‘s comment about including Windows libraries for full compatibility. No thank you, and not going to happen ever.

    No thank you because it would open up the OS X platform to a whole new host of exploits and malware that commonly plague Windows.

    Not going to happen anyway because IBM tried this with OS/2 and what ended up happening was developers only built software for Windows. When Windows software could run on both OS/2 became unessential for organizations and expensive for IBM to keep licensing technology from Microsoft.

  4. First, to all those morons who read this article and jumped to the completely erroneous conclusion that Apple was dropping Intel CPUs – jezus, folks, grow a brain and reread the article.

    As for surrounding Intel CPUs with a custom chipset/motherboard (which, by the way, is what this article is about geniuses), I see that as a good thing. In combination with Snow Leopard, it could signal new capabilities from combining custom hardware and software.

    Side note: One reason Apple was so quick to market with Intel Macs was their near total reliance on Intel’s standard chipsets and motherboards. It makes sense, now that the Intel Mac has matured, to move in a more refined, custom direction.

    Finally, don’t worry about drivers for Windows compatibility – Apple or related vendors have written all the drivers for the various versions of Boot Camp so XP/Vista can talk to the Apple hardware. I am sure the same would happen for the new hardware configurations.

  5. @Peter

    I guess Apple will be writing it. If they are going to do this they have to make sure everything works. And if not then Steve is not going to tolerate it as he apparently has tolerated the botched mobileme launch and iphone 3g activation problems. I hope the takes a freaking hot branding iron and starts branding managers butts randomly to set an example and to keep his people in line. Not to mention motivating them NOT to mess up like that again.

  6. Joking aside, the fact that Apple is doing this sort of thing makes it better for the customer. Steve really strives to give his customers the best computing experience out there, and with style to boot!

    Microsoft probably won’t ever know what hit’em.

  7. At some point Apple needs to close the easy on-ramp for Windows users, but dropping the bootcamp feature will have to wait until the tipping point where Mac is dominant has occurred, and Windows software is so dated, that emulation becomes easy.

    @Peter “One reason Windows works on your MacBook, for example, is that it knows how to talk to an Intel X3100 graphics processor. But I doubt Windows will know how to talk to a custom Apple graphics processor.”

    Windows will take whatever driver you drop into it, just like it does for any other chipset.

    @Ralph M “I see that as a good thing. In combination with Snow Leopard, it could signal new capabilities from combining custom hardware and software.”

    It will be good. The PPC Mac Mini had a passable video chip, but the intel Mac Mini lost this due to the chipset hogging too much space on the board.

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