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. 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?

  1. 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….

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. You’re all skating to where the puck is. Apple will dump Intel simply because they don’t want Intel dictating what they can do with an OS and graphics. This is precisely what held back advances in PC design for decades. Apple is not in the business of doing what is possible with off-the-shelf pieces made by others. That’s Dell’s method of operation. Apple WILL design its own chips sooner or later. I’m betting sooner.

  6. If Apple changes processors again, so what? They kicked ass when they moved to Intel. They managed to do the whole transition inside one year. They released the first two Intel Macs at MacWorld 2006, and the last one late in the year in September. This being said, I don’t think it will happen any time soon, or at all for that matter. They don’t need to make this switch. The reason why they moved off of PowerPC was because the roadmap was stale and lagging. Intel is moving forward, and getting better all the time. The point about the price of the processors is really dumb. Apple can reduce costs and lower their prices by improving their manufacturing processes. They’ve done it before.

  7. Since before Jobs return in 1990s Apple has had a hand in design of CPUs And they bought 2 CPU designer Corps! I think apple is bidding its time to own the who shebang!

    1. Yeah, it was the ARM CPUs that Apple was involved in, and Apple’s involvement resulted in the ARM6, which was used in the Newton. Apple’s involvement ended shortly after due to increasing management and the resulting financial troubles they experienced in the mid ’90s.

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