Will Apple really switch the Mac to Apple designed ARM-based processors?

“You have to wonder if Apple and Intel are in some kind of negotiation phase right now,” Arik Hesseldahl writes for AllThingsD. “That’s one cynical way to interpret the story from Bloomberg News saying that Apple is exploring ways to move its Macintosh line of computers away from Intel’s chips and toward using its own internally designed line of chips.”

“Such a change would no doubt hurt Intel, already fighting to maintain its spot as one of the tech industry’s agenda-setting companies as the PC market contracts, and its lack of participation in the mobile market becomes ever more glaring,” Hesseldahl writes. “The thinking goes that in time Apple will want to offer a more unified computing environment across all of its platforms — phones, tablets and PCs — and one key way to make that happen is to have a single chip architecture inside them all.”

Hesseldahl writes, “It isn’t crazy, and you just know that somewhere in some lab in Cupertino or Austin there is a hopped-up prototype Mac running some weird iteration of OS X on some hopped-up prototype A-Chip, just to see if it can be done. As the late Steve Jobs once said about the prospect of switching to Intel but before it happened: ‘We like to have options.'”

Read more in the full article here.

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30 Comments

      1. Nope, across the entire line. Maybe that’s why they’ve not done anything with the MacPro… The future doesn’t include a professional desktop.

        However, all the laptops and the consumer desktops, there’s no reason why it can’t be done.

  1. Of course its coming. We know what OS II is its clearly “Unified iOS” – a version if iOS that runs tablets, the desktop, and phones. If Apple could make “Rosetta” work for PPC to Intel – why not a version of Rosetta that runs Intel programs and let them run on a native Apple A10 chip? Have custom commands to make it really sizzle so speed is not an issue. Office is the only native Intel app that is a “requirement” but its influence is waning every year.

    Its coming my friends and I welcome its arrival with open arms.

  2. Apple is running into the same thing they did with Motorola (?) and IBM. They can’t get the chip speed they want quickly enough from Intel. They are also learning how to modify the chips to their specific devices in ways that other folks can’t buying off the shelf. It will be a win for us all and bad for everyone else who can’t switch.

  3. Do they not know that the iOS already runs on the Mac computers that create the iOS apps? This is not the issue everyone is talking about. The iOS is a stripped down version of OSX.

  4. we will probably get a cheapo MacBook in the $500 range with an ARM CPU. real Mac’s will still have Intel since ARM is still no where near as powerful.

    most people like me barely use 1/10 the power of their Mac

    cheapo Macbook for the masses and Intel Mac’s for the workstation crowd.

    the power of the CPU is not the issue since most people rarely use a fraction of the power of their CPUs. the issue is cost. ARM CPU plus the supporting chips are a lot cheaper than a motherboard, CPU, chipset, etc from Intel

    1. That would leave a big fragmentation gap. Apple would have to devote much the developer platform to handling the differences between Intel & ARM, and developers would still be ultimately responsible for making sure Mac apps work on both. They did this during the PPC to Intel transition, but it was costly, which is why they rush to drop PPC support.

      I think Apple will eventually switch Macs to ARM, but only they can switch the full line up of Macs. Which will not be anytime soon.

      If Apple were to fragment Macs between two chip sets, I think it would make more sense for it to be ARM & PPC. PowerPC chips (which are used in all current & next generation video game consoles) are more powerful than Intel chips – Apple switched to Intel mostly because it’s more energy efficient in portables. Apple could move consumer Macs to even more efficient ARM, and move professional desktops to more powerful PPC chips, to really differentiate themselves from PCs.

      1. not really

        there is a huge market by volume for cheap home computers. Using Intel/MS its not profitable. but apple can build it using ARM and make a nice profit.

        most of this market just needs a computer with something like iphoto and a large hard drive to hold photos. and do your basic internet and some games. $1200 for a 13″ laptop is too much for this market. mountain lion with gamecenter is a step in this.

        i think in a few years we will have 2 Mac lines. the cheapo ARM line for most people and a Pro line with Intel CPU’s for the workstation market and people who want to play “real” games

  5. Only reason to take the relatively low volume Intel CPUs to ARM is if it somehow made a BIG difference. It would consume lots and lots of resources in the smaller part of their product market.

    I don’t see how that occurs right now, since Apple needs to crank up production on iOS devices just to meet demand.

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