Cringely: Otellini was forced out by Intel board thanks to Apple’s decision to abandon Intel chips

“Paul Otellini this week resigned his position as CEO of Intel as I’m sure you’ve already heard or read. Analysts and pundits are weighing-in on the matter, generally attributing Otellini’s failure to Intel’s late and flawed effort to gain traction in the mobile processor space,” Bob Cringely writes for I, Cringely. “While I tend to agree with this assessment, it doesn’t go far enough to explain Otellini’s fall, which is not only his fault but also the fault of Intel’s board of directors. Yes, Otellini was forced out by the board, but the better action would have been for the board to have fired itself, too.”

“If there was a single event that triggered this end to Otellini’s tenure at Intel I’m guessing it is Apple’s decision to abandon Intel chips for its desktop computers. There has been no such announcement but Apple has sent signals to the market and Apple doesn’t send signals for fun,” Cringely writes. “The question isn’t if Apple would drop Intel but when and the way product design changes are made the when is not this Christmas but next.”

Much more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Intel CEO Paul Otellini to retire in May – November 19, 2012
What Apple dumping Intel could mean – November 8, 2012
Apple exploring switch from Intel processors for Macintosh, say sources – November 5, 2012
iPad 4 graphics upgrade a serious horsepower increase; Apple’s A6X is one massive processing machine – November 2, 2012
Benchmarks: Apple iPad 4′s A6X beats all comers in GPU performance – November 2, 2012
Apple’s powerful A6 a unique CPU design that’s never been seen before – October 8, 2012
Analysis of Apple A6 core reveals exquisite, optimized custom layout done by hand – September 26, 2012
Apple A6 die reveals 3-core GPU – September 21, 2012
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Apple’s custom A6 processor the result of years of effort, including a $500 million chip development program – September 18, 2012
A6 is Apple’s first with custom-designed CPU cores; iPhone 5 memory size and speed revealed – September 16, 2012


    1. Yes, and there is the event. Microsoft as so aggressively screwed up Windows Vista, 7 & 8. And now more people are using the cloud computing using their Internet browser, there is no need to stay with “Intel inside” with Windows compatibility. Those Windows apps are now going for iPad compatible. Isn’t it a stronger statement to say iOS App compatible now?

      1. Interesting thinking, but that transition is just beginning and success unknown. As long as MS still owns 90% of the PC market, doubt Apple can jump to their own architecture. If Apple could get to 20%, it would be a good time.

        It is really all about Office and not Windows, it’s MS’s cash cow and killer app. So, the real question is whether user (business) will ever accept anything else.

        1. Apple has just in the last 3 months upgraded every high profile piece of hardware that they produce. That leaves a vast resource utilization hole to be filled with other endeavors. Two things come to mind:

          1. It’s time for Pages, and Numbers to acquire superior functionality to their MS equivalents. Keynote is already there.

          2. Windows compatibility will be relatively unimportant as Windows becomes less and less relevant. Ballmer & crew just drove Windows off the relevancy cliff with the release of Windows 8. The graph goes straight down from here.

          With those two points in mind, and the fact that since OS X 10.1 the Apple OS has always been 64 bit capable, except when they had to dumb it down for Intel CPU compatibility, I believe it will be time within the next 12 months for Apple to shed the constraints of Intel altogether. The very fact Intel designs its chips for the MS/Dell/Sony market means that those chips suffer from limitations imposed by moribund MS software design and “cheapest possible” Dell hardware design. I’m sure Apple is feeling constrained by Intel CPU capabilities.

        2. I forgot one very important additional point. It’s also time for Apple to insure that OS X, or maybe OS XI doesn’t run on the chips used by everyone else. The next Apple OS needs to be impossible to pirate and run on a Dell PC. Apple can do that by writing it to run only on a chip of their own design.

        3. This is a non-problem. Who really cares if a handful of geeks have nothing better to do than jump over hurdles and through loops to make OS X run on a Dell?
          Desktops need performance. And, compared to Intel processors, the ARM is a pantywaist in this category.

        4. Oh, I don’t know…maybe load balancing among multiple cores as a hardware function instead of an OS function? Is 8 GB all the RAM we’re likely to ever need (seems I heard something similar a few years back)? Stuff like that. You’re asking me to point out the dog that hasn’t barked. Who knows what new ideas Apple may have that don’t fit the present Intel CPU capabilities? If Apple has such ideas they are being held back by using Intel. The other half of that problem is that if they get Intel to solve their problem they solve it for all of Apple’s competitors if they want to then copy Apple’s new idea.

    2. Apple doesn’t need switchers anymore. For many new customers, they’re buying a Mac ONLY to run OSX. With every day, there’s less and less reason to maintain compatibility with Windows.

      I mean, no one expects to be able to run OSX on a Windows PC.

      1. I was buying books to prepare for my GRE. I was actually quite shocked that one of them came with PC only software. Amazing considering the rate at which college students own Macs is way above 20% nationally and in many universities over 50%. It’s incomprehensible someone would dare publish a GRE prep book in 2013 with windows only software.

        1. Virtual PC on PowerPC machines was painfully slow. Emulating Intel devices with non-Intel machines is a non-solution. Apple can’t even emulate PowerPC anymore; they dropped Rosetta.

  1. If it is announced in the next year it means Apple is sitting on something currently that is comparable to what Intel has now. Apple will not make a sideways move performance wise. If it makes a move it is going to be a game changing move on multiple levels.

    1. I think that is a very significant observation.

      There are most certainly advantages with using Intel ( mostly to do with booting up into Windows for those who need to ), so a switch to another CPU would need to offer advantages that significantly outweigh that. I think that there would have to be a dramatic performance ( both speed and efficiency ) boost to make it a serious contender.

      It’s worth adding that Microsoft are no longer catering for legacy users either, so Wintel emulation isn’t such a big issue as it used to be. If Apple can offer applications with good compatibility with Word, Excel and Powerpoint, together with a few other key third party applications, then the need for Wintel becomes less and less.

    2. The only way to replace Intel chips in Apple’s desktops and laptops is with a full 64-bit hardware architecture. Applications and data sets (and users with a dozen apps open at a time) are just too memory hungry these days to be stuck in < 4 GB memory implementations. Apple will absolutely *NOT* go back to any 32-bit implementations in any Mac.

      ARM just recently announced the framework for its 64-bit architecture. They have not released the details of that architecture to anyone — most likely because the details don't exist yet. They expect to get final details out in calendar Q2 2013 and absolutely by the end of calendar quarter Q3 2013.

      IF (an extremely unlikely IF) Apple has been doing its own variant of the 64-bit ARM architecture and defined its own details so as to have 64-bit chips in full production by the end of 2013 then it almost certainly won't be bit level compatible with any of ARM's own variants. But Apple doing its own architecture would be the only way that it can have hardware out within the next year to 18 months. And Apple would have to grow from the ground up all the developer tools too. Goodby all the current tools because they''d be giving up both ARM *and* Intel cores.

      If Apple does it's own chip based on the ARM 64-bit machine then it will have a chip out — AT THE EARLIEST — in calendar Q4 of 2014 (18 months after ARM finishes its specifications). AND it will be a "1.0" variant. No one should expect Apple to ship desktops based upon that chip. (Ever wonder why Apple's first public variant of its ARM implementation was the A4? The first variant of chips is usually just, if at all, functional.)

      Thus, I'd predict that AT THE EARLIEST Apple will ship desktops based upon the ARM architecture in 2016 and maybe not until 2020 or later.

      A new architecture is coming. However, Intel is not standing still either. The next three generations of Intel's core chip sets are very, very power focused. (Everyone should have noticed that Intel used to come out with its high end/flagship chips first but is not coming out with their lower power variants several months before the high end chips.) When will the price/performance/power crossover for desktop chips happen? Not within the next 18 months. I'm GUESSING 2018 to 2020.

      Sometimes Chringely just spouts off to rabble rouse. He's doing this time too. Otellini was not forced out for something that won't happen for at least three to four years — or more.

        1. The ARM is a processor that has become very popular for embedded design. It’s key features are low power, low cost and flexible design. You license the core so you can place the device on the same piece of silicon as other parts of your design keeping your device count down which translates to lower costs for the end product. You can even put multiple cores on a single piece of silicon for more performance.
          ARM popularity seems to be snowballing. As more and more designs use it, the features, tools and support have been getting better making it even more desirable for designers.
          However, the ARM has been tailored for embedded devices where power consumption is critical. The latest versions have added more performance capabilities but they simply aren’t intended (or anywhere near ready) to compete with an Intel-type processor where performance is king and power consumption is not so important.

    3. MS is making a Windows 8 for thier ARM tablet. Whatever you call it this can be good for Apple as to my understanding Windows 8 ARM will run a full Office suite. If this is the case The ability to dual boot is as simple as buying a Windows ARM version.

  2. Won’t be happy at all with an Intel drop.

    However two lines (which is marketing suicide) would be easier to swallow.

    ARM for ever increasingly powerful mobile devices.
    Intel for desktop production.

  3. Its as likely that the Intel board is starting to RUE the day they seeded the net book attack on Apple and are taking it out on Otellini, adding to Microsofts decision to put an ARM chip under the hood of the Surface RT (soon so be sub Surface) lol

  4. as usual, this “cringely” is full of it.

    Apple is going to design all its own chips someday, yes. for obvious good reasons. there is nothing anyone at Intel can do about that.

    and anyway Apple’s share of Intel’s chip sales is very modest.

    real problem is X86 technology is nearing end of life, and Intel hasn’t figured out what is next. while ARM did.

    plus the growing cut throat competition from commodity Asian chip makers eating away at Intel’s profit margins.

    but that is all beyond Mr. X.

  5. Whatever you may think of Cringely, this one is spot on. There is no other option for Apple. Get used to it. The sooner the better. A lot of people had to eat humble pie after the iPad mini was announced and I am sure they are stuffed.

  6. Bob Cringley is the new president of the FOS club. there are so many technical obstacles for Apple to overcome, that it is just ludicrous to think this kind of switch is on the horizon.

    Apple will leave Intel when the rest of the industry leaves Intel.

    There is nothing to gain here.

    1. Agreed. Apple doesn’t design all of its chips today. What they do design is nowhere in the ballpark with a high end Intel chip.

      ARM has two advantages: low power and a licensed design that you can drop into your own custom chip. These are both critical for leading edge mobile devices.
      Intel has the performance advantage. It blows the doors off of an ARM device.

      Nobody is interested in new desktops with less performance than their predecessors.

  7. I dont buy this. Apple is an insignificant customer to Intel. Businesses are not replacing their PC’s, consumers are. Biggest users of PC’s are businesses and businesses aren’t gonna switch because they need trucks. This has nothing to do with a desktop decision.

    However, if the board is disappointed that Intel failed to capitalize on the mobile platform then maybe Intel engineers should be fired.

    If Apple is the reason, the reason is probably mobile and not desktop related.

  8. Merge the two rumors (apple tv and “Mac abandons intel”) and what do you get?
    You get an Arm powered $200 Mac nano that runs OSX , but not windows. It’ll be called a “computer” rather than an iOS device like the existing Apple TV. That way, the content providers will have to treat it like any other computer. It’s only video out will be an hdmi port. It will have USB ports. It’ll also run flash, if you want. You’ll have to buy a Mac mini if you want windows.

    1. Interesting point but would Intel really worry about losing the Apple TV market? How big is that? I can’t believe it is much compared to Intel’s big picture.
      I think the more plausible explanation is that Intel is upset that they missed the mobile market. Cell phones are selling at about 1 billion units per year. Add in the wireless tablets and the numbers are even much bigger. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice slice of those markets for your processors? With Apple setting the direction in the mobile devices, they were the customer that Intel needed to become the king of mobile processors. It didn’t happen so heads had to roll at Intel.
      That’s my theory.

      1. I’m having second thoughts about my theory. Perhaps you are right. Consider this scenario:
        1) Intel doesn’t have a great mobile processor and they know it.
        2) Apple TV is an up and coming device. It hasn’t made its mark yet. For all Intel knows, this could be the next game changer.
        3) Intel does have processors that are pretty well suited for an Apple TV.
        4) Apple is getting pretty comfortable with the ARM and realize that it may be sufficient for their Apple TV needs. They choose to go with ARM for Apple TV.
        5) Heads roll at Intel.

        1. Don’t call it “apple tv”. When you call it “—tv” the content providers immediately block it to extract extra fees.

          Instead, you produce a low cost computer with a desktop (non-iOS) interface with “lightning-fast” video streaming that “brings all your favorite free Internet video to your own monitor”. In fact “you can even connect it to your big screen home theater with its built-in hdmi cable or our new Apple refina 60″ TV via thunder port.”

          Now, how can apple do that for $299? Abondon intel for ARM, first on this product to be launched this spring. But you can’t call it an Apple TV. “This is the new Mac nano.”

          This, IMHO, is how Steve “cracked it”.

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