Apple will inevitably drop Intel for their own A-series processors in the Mac

“Some things in life are just inevitable,” E. Werner Reschke writes for T-GAAP. “Concerning Apple and its Mac computers, at some point it is inevitable that the company will grow tired of Intel’s main CPU pricing, known in the industry as the ‘Intel tax.’ The Intel tax is a bitter pill for computer makers to swallow, as Intel’s gross margins can reach upwards of 80% for their CPUs.”

“Compared to OS X devices, iOS devices pricing has remained very consistent over time. That can not be said for Macs,” Reschke writes. “Roughly every six months any given Mac model receives a processor update and the price goes up or down by $100. The reason is simple: Intel.”

“How long will Apple allow Intel to dictate their Mac upgrade cycles and prices on its OS X products?” Reschke writes. “Recent rumors are beginning to point to the inevitable – Apple will turn to its own ARM based A-Series processors for Macs… It is inevitable that Apple will eventually leave Intel for its own class of processors.”

Read more in the full article here.

45 Comments

    1. True; Intel has a monopoly on the best manufacturing norms for CPUs, and it will not share it with Apple: difference 22 nm versus 28 nm is huge. There is no way to create giant CPUs of high-end Intel class without it being worse simply because of manufacturing.

      There is no need to make CPU just for sake of making CPU. If you can not make it better than others — or even just as good, Apple will not do it.

  1. If and when they change they will gain and loose industry advantages. Frankly, most people, were I work, not only want Mac OS, they also want to put Windows on it, for Microsoft Outlook, and a myriad of other Windows only functions that third parties provide. Windows on the Mac was a good entry point for non-Mac users. If you want to increase the Mac user base, you need to bring them in from some where and when you offer no compromises in switching, they come in droves.

    People will begin to think twice, if Apple drops Intel and Windows compatibility. I am not saying Windows is better, but we are talking just about the mission of converting users.

    1. New ARM MacBooks will be about pulling in new Apple users, not downshifting existing ones. The ARM Macs will form a new lower tier under Intel Macs. Cheaper Macs for the masses, but retaining the traditional Apple margins and quality. Apple even gets greater design control out of it.

      There are very few ways Apple can suck up another huge percentage of computing profits, but this is an easy one. Intel, Microsoft and their OEMs will lose massive profits and marketshare when Apple does this. Apple, and its existing users, will only gain from wider Mac OS adoption.

    2. Your argument is crap. Just because most people where you work want Windows on their Macs does, this does not mean that everyone is the same. Most of the Windows to Mac switchers that I know are happy to ditch Windows in its entirety. They don’t hold on to the security blanket of Windows installed on their Mac. This happened to some extent early on when Apple first moved to Intel, but it’s not as prevalent today. Mostly, this is done out of ignorance. There is nothing useful that Windows PCs can do that a Mac can’t.

      1. Unfortunately, you don’t know what you are talking about. I bought my first AII in 1980 and have owned almost every model since. I still have 2 AIIs and an AIII. There is a Mini, a 2007 MBP, and a 2014 MBP running in my household.

        Currently, I run SolidWorks CAD, a datalogger program, and a CNC program that are exclusively Windows. They are essential to my business.

        That is the rub. Some critical Windows only programs are what requires BootCamp & Parallels.

        1. Unfortunately, you made more erroneous assumptions. FYI.. I don’t give a damn how long you you’ve been using Apple computers, or how many you’ve owned. I could hold up my long list of Apple products too, but that doesn’t accomplish anything useful. I know Solidworks very well and I know it well enough to always suggest to my customers that they not run it on a Mac via Bootcamp. The reason being that Solidworks is very finicky about the graphics cards that it supports. It’s best to equip a system with the suggested graphics cards. If you try to run Solidworks through virtualization, you won’t be able get the best performance. My argument was against a lot of peoples’ assumption that they must keep Windows around. Obviously, you feel very strongly about this, but I feel that your intent when you replied to me was to try and smack me down like I’m some idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You were wrong. Have a great weekend. I’m done talking about this.

  2. The reality is that apple have OSX builds for arm already running. When they will pull the trigger is another question.
    I personally rely on being able to run windows. It allows me to work from home without having to have a separate laptop. It also allows me to justify buying a new mac every 3 years.
    Mac unit sales took off with the switch to intel. It is hard to predict if they would lose traction by not having windows compatibility.

      1. Gollum: It’s lose you’re going for (opposite of win), not loose. Loose is the condition your pants are when you go on a diet, or the way your sister acts after she’s had a few too many.

    1. They won’t drop Intel Macs when they do this. They didn’t drop MacBook Pro’s when they came out with MacBook Airs, even though most people are fine with Air’s.

      Most people don’t need Windows, but Apple understands that its high end users are important even if they are a relatively small group. Their commitment to the Mac Pro is a good indicator of this.

        1. Perhaps a long time from now, but as long as the majority of PCs in business run Windows, Apple will want to continue offering Windows-compatible Macs for those who want a Mac but have to run some things in Windows. These are important gateway users for Apple.

  3. Have any of these people actually used both OS X and iOS?

    Great gains have been made with ARM — kudos to Apple. But the performance gap remains HUGE. I suppose they could offer desktop ARM processors that are larger and use more power to gain further on Intel processors. But with the current state of ARM, I certainly wouldn’t be buying an ARM Mac.

    1. Does anyone doubt that Apple is already experimenting with high end ARM chips? But like the switch to Intel Macs and 64-bit A-chips, they won’t say a word about it until they have a product ready.

  4. The issue as I see it is, whether Parallels and Vmware could do the emulation for an A-Series chip to do Windows without a loss of performance over having an Intel Chip.. That seems unlikely, unless the Apple’s chips are significantly more efficient.

  5. The day my MacBook Pro goes ARM is likely the day I buy up a lot of used Intel MB Pros so I can run native Windows, which I must do for paying work.

    Apple may be many things, but they are not STUPID. No ARM chips on the pro products will ever be done as far as I can see.

      1. Won’t work. AMD and Intel cross-license patents, in part due to court settlements, but those automatically void if AMD is bought, so the new owner would have to renegotiate them from scratch… from Intel, who would probably just walk away from the table.

        Furthermore, Intel chips generally perform better than AMD at lower power consumption. Apple won’t ditch Samsung to get inferior screens and other components from “friendlier” companies until they measure up, so they would be stupid to dump Intel for AMD.

        1. That doesn’t make any sense. So if AMD were bought by another company, all cross-licensed patents are voided!?

          So you’re saying the new company loses living rights to Intel’s patents, and Intel loses licensing rights to AMD’s – and they have to go back to the barging table and hammer out a new agreement!?

          That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard; after the sale of AMD – no one can continue to make x86-64 based CPUs!?

          Furthermore, how in the hell is VIA making x86-64 compatible CPUs in all of this? Are they apart of the cross-licensing agreement as well?

  6. I think it would be fascinating if Apple licensed x86 and became the 3rd producer of x86 chips (along with intel and AMD). I wonder if Apple could make a better x86 cpu than intel….

  7. It doesn’t need to be Intel or ARM across the entire range. Apple could offer a range of low cost Macs with ARM processors.

    Apple did some brilliant work emulating PPC on Intel with Rosetta, it doesn’t sound too far fetched that they could emulate Intel on ARM in a similar manner.

    While such Macs would be pretty slow at running Intel code, they would be pretty nippy at running IOS apps, so depending on what you plan to do, ARM Macs could be a very appealing option.

  8. While I believe the performance of Apple’s A8 may approach that of a lower end mobile Intel CPU, It’ll be a long while before they get anywhere near the high end.

    I think it’s much more likely that Apple licenses the x86-64 ISA and starts designing their own x86-64 based CPUs. They could also buy a company like VIA, which specializes in power efficient x86-64 based CPUs.

    1. The x86 instruction set is inherently more inefficient than ARM or in fact any other modern processor. The reason Intels chips are so good are that they keep ahead on fabrication processes and have so much money to put into extending the old architecture.

      If Apple could convince Intel to fab their chips, their scaled up ARM chips could cream x86 on both power (calculation speed) and power (efficiency).

      Intel might have to open up their fabs down the road anyway to return to growth demanded by shareholders, as their x86 chips have been losing marketshare relentlessly to mobile processors where all the growth is. But even with out Intel’s fabs in the short run, Apple could still be very competitive with scaled up ARM on other partners fabs.

  9. the intel i7 with the 4000 graphics in my laptop is really good. the a7 in my 5s is really good, but it isn’t in laptop/desktop category.

    I think the real solution is for Apple and Intel to work MORE closely together possibly with “Apple Only” versions of Intel processors. Have Apple commit to every six month updates to laptop and desktop Macs. For example: every August and February a Macbook and Mini update and every December and June, a iMac and Macpro update. That way Intel’s “tick/tock” strategy can be synchronized. Now a days, you don’t need the “absolute latest and greatest” to be productive. Intel can use Apple’s business as a base for production, Apple can custom design processors/graphics/power consumption for its own needs. For people who a difference of few hundred dollars in the price of a Mac matters, could be in a upgrade cycle just before updates. This way, more can afford Macs, Apple can still differentiate there products and Intel can still run the best FABs in the world at full production.

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