RUMOR: Apple to dump Intel for Apple ARM-based chips within 24-36 months

“Word has reached SemiAccurate that Apple is going to show Intel the door, at least as far as laptops are concerned. It won’t be really soon, but we are told it is a done deal,” Charlie Demerjian reports for SemiAccurate.

“Apple is moving the laptop line, and presumably desktops too, to ARM based chips as soon as possible,” Demerjian reports. “Think mid-2013. At that point, Apple can move to ARM without worrying about obsoleting code with an ISA that is on the verge of changing, and no memory overhead worries either. Basically, it looks like the perfect time. Ironically, SemiAccurate’s moles tell us that the boys on infinite loop are planning to move laptops to ARM at about that time.”

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Demerjian reports, “So short story, x86 is history on Apple laptops, or will be in 2-3 years. In any case, it is a done deal, Intel is out, and Apple chips are in. The only question left is if they will use their own core, a Samsung core, or the generic ARM black box. My bet is on generic for the first round, with a custom uncore, and moving to progressively more proprietary features with each successive generation.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As anyone with an iPad 2 can tell you, Apple’s A5 is quite an extraordinary performer. Imagine an Apple A6 (or even an A5) with access to much more than the 512MB RAM found in iPad 2 and coupled with high-performance SSDs. It’s easy to imagine a setup like that running a full-blown Mac OS X very well.

UPDATE: 11:11am EDT: As per concerns about Boot Camp / Windows Virtualization: Microsoft has already announced that their next version of Windows will support SoC architectures from ARM, as well and Intel and AMD. So, provided Microsoft follows through and ships, Boot Camp and Windows Virtualization on Macs could still be possible of Apple ARM-based Macs. See related articles below for more info.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
IDC: ARM chips to own 13% of PC market by 2015 – May 6, 2011
Mysteries abound in analysis of Apple’s bold new iPad-powering A5 – April 14, 2011
Apple’s big, bad A5 whips Nvidia Tegra 2 handsomely in independent tests – April 8, 2011
Apple A5 chip production drives $3.6-billion Samsung fab expansion – March 30, 2011
Apple has become a formidable chip company – March 26, 2011
Teardown of iPad 2 WiFi shows recently-minted Apple A5 SoC, 512 MB RAM – March 13, 2011
RUMOR: Apple inks deal with TSMC foundry for A5 processor; possible setback for Samsung – March 9, 2011
ARM co-founder: Wintel faces obliteration – January 7, 2011
Microsoft to support SoC architectures from Intel, AMD, and ARM for next Windows version – January 5, 2011

62 Comments

    1. It would seem to indicate that Apple is feeling Windows is history in a couple of years and no accommodations for the past indiscretions of the corporate world will be needed going forward.

      1. Even with MS’ support of ARM, the virtualization will super slow, so ARM-based devices will be barely usable to run X32/X64 Windows code.

        Also, even A15 are slow comparing to Intel, so, overall, the whole idea is pure fantasy.

    2. Well, Windows 8 is supposed to be supported on ARM, but the entire “legacy” Windows app arsenal will need recoding/recompiling because I understand there won’t be a compatibility layer like Rosetta.

      Combined with with the Ivybridge announcements from Intel this week, I call “nonsense”.

    3. Screw bootcamp and windows
      I want a mac
      preferably a R.I.S.C. one

      and to anyone who says arm is slow compared to intel, they’r wrong
      you can fit many intel instructions on one arm instruction
      as for emulation, why do you think apple has been playing with llvm so much?

  1. Sorry, I don’t believe this one. Not gonna happen. Intel’s processors have so much more power than ARM’s and will continue to do so even when ARM comes out with higher end chips. The architecture transition would be another mess with emulation layers, universal binaries, etc. Running Windows, which is a big reason for the market share gains, would be done. There are just no positives here, except battery life.

    1. ARM did announce they are actively going after the server markets. I would think their new designs will be very powerful indeed. They might have a legacy of little low power chips but…..

    2. I believe it. It will give Apple a huge advantage in notebooks (and most MacBook users are using fairly “normal” software that will be on the Mac App Store by then).

      Desktops are where people tend to run the more obscure stuff (audio, video, scientific, etc.) that won’t be cleaned up for App Store anytime soon).

      1. Mac market share really took off in 2006 right after the Intel transition. The ability to run Windows and have that “safety blanket” certainly helped Apple gain new customers.

    3. … introduced a new iMac line with Quad-cores all around and speeds three to four times those of the A5 chip. Nothing against the A5 – my wife will be buying an iPad2 later today – but its speed is based on it using iOS, not OSX.
      Seriously, ARM is going to boost speed six times as fast as Intel?

  2. they were looking for some way to stop intel PPS momentum. They are very good at creative writing. I would like nothing better than to see both WINTEL fail but with thunderbolt just in it’s infancy, do you really think apple will bail? Thisisjust the man from redmondmaking sure the payola dollars bring some pain to it’s former conniving partner.

  3. I hope this is not true.

    If so there goes one of the best things about the Mac that I love, the ability to run pretty much any OS out there.

    Bootcamp will be toast, and all the developers get to redo all their software AGAIN. w00t. NOT.

  4. Oh boy….yet another big change for the Mac. Kind of makes sense. Hopefully there will be some sort of way to run some…..(windoz applications)….I still have to go to the darkside once a week to run my stock screening program. But then again, maybe the company that makes this application will finally get it in their head to port the software to the Mac natively….

  5. I agree that this will not happen. This would put the Mac in the corner again. Right now, a Mac can run any desktop OS and any desktop application, and it can do it very well. This is because of Intel. Period.

  6. This is a natural progression. Why use a 30-40 watt chip if a 2 watt chip will do.

    (I’m still using a dual processor g4 from 2001 with few complaints and am guessing the current A5 is a fair bit faster. Fast enough for 95% of laptop users anyway.)

  7. It took developers countless hours of work and effort not to mention costs to be able to move there software from 6800 to Power PC then from Power PC to Intel. Now finally the dust has settled and we get continuity and backward compatibility that can stabilize the platform. I finally have Photoshop, modo, Premier and After Effects running on native Cocoa 64 bit code. I really hope this is just a rumor, because at this point the users and developers would once again have to spend lots of money to get where we are today.

    1. When they did the switch from PPC to Inetl the Dev tools didn’t change, well much. And they did say they had made OS X Processor independent by design. The only issue back then was people who’s code was not Xcode. Now that they are I think it would be quite easy and the Devs would hardly notice. As well, Mac’s are now big players in Computers and the pressure to keep you app up to date is much higher.

      1. absolutely correct

        as an example I point out the ios simulator, ios running on intel processors. the only difference here is that some of the perifials are not usable.
        recompiling an app for the new A5/A6 based macs would be like switching from the simulator to an idevice: you just push a button

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