Why Apple dumping Intel processors would be disastrous

“KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo published a report speculating that by 2016, people will have the option of buying ARM-based Apple iMacs and MacBooks. Kuo suggested that Apple will drop Intel processors to better manage the launch cycle of Mac OS X desktop computers,” Alcaraz Research writes for Seeking Alpha. “Kuo speculates that the ‘desktop-quality’ of Apple’s upcoming A9X and A10X 64-bit ARM-based processors will achieve performance numbers that are between Intel’s Atom and Core i3 x86 processors. He claims that 16nm A9X chips (that will be produced by TSMC) in 2016 will power future versions of the iPad and low-end Macs.”

“Kuo also claims that the Apple A10X will move to the 10nanometer production line of Samsung in 2016,” Alcaraz Research writes. “Mr. Kuo is only around 50% accurate in his Apple musings so I am treating this latest speculation from him with disbelief. I am both long INTC and AAPL. After the disaster with GT Advanced Technologies, I firmly believe Tim Cook will not again experiment with Apple’s best-selling products.”

“Mac computers are seeing impressive sales with Intel Inside them. IDC reports that Apple is now the 5th biggest PC vendor in the world. Why would Tim Cook endanger this good thing by experimenting?” Alcaraz Research asks. “Apple will be alienating millions of moneyed creative professionals if it starts selling low-end ARM-based Mac OS X computers.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Who said anything about the Mac Pro (or even the “iMac Pro”) going to Apple A-series processors? “Moneyed creative professionals” will still have their Macs and the software they want will still run on them. The so-called “disaster” with GT Advanced is not a good reason. ARM is not a Mickey Mouse operation like GT Advanced was before they totally blew their one big chance. There is no reason why Apple could not offer both A-series-powered Macs and Intel-based Macs. The two are not mutually exclusive and no disaster would occur.

Related articles:
KGI: Apple is designing its own processors for Mac – January 14, 2015
Apple A9-powered MacBook Air? – December 16, 2014
Why Apple will switch to ARM-based Apple A-series-powered Macs – August 27, 2014
Intel-powered Macs: The end is nigh – August 4, 2014
Intel’s Broadwell chips further delayed; not shipping for most Macs until early-mid 2015 – July 9, 2014
Apple will inevitably drop Intel for their own A-series processors in the Mac – June 26, 2014
How long before Apple dumps Intel from MacBook Air? – June 26, 2013

48 Comments

  1. “Apple’s upcoming A9X and A10X 64-bit ARM-based processors will achieve performance numbers that are between Intel’s Atom and Core i3 x86 processors.”

    In other words, next year Apple will have a part that is almost as good as a five year-old Intel part.

    Combined with the current OS X trend toward suckiness, that’s a move that would actually make me go back to Windows.

  2. I have believed from the time of the original iPad that it was a market for a Mac with the ARM processor- either independant or in tandem with Intel’s. The increased battery life and the ability to to run all the Apps that the Apple’s App Store could be used. This could or would allow both education or business to flourish for Apple. This is really apparent with the LAUSD fiasco. A bridge between the MacBook Air and the iPad wod have been welcome and allowed the incompetent IT department to have an clue on deployment. Then the hardest point would have been software. But, most of the student could have functioned off Pages, iCloud, and Safari. Then apply this to business as well. It does not need to eliminate Intel-just bridge the light user with the iPad cost, and laptop function.

  3. “There is no reason why Apple could not offer both A-series-powered Macs and Intel-based Macs.”

    Well, yeah, MDN, there’s a pretty big one that’s supposed to be engrained in Apple’s DNA. It’s called saying, “No,” to unnecessarily complex and/or complicated designs/products/software. Why not build a Surface while they’re at it? Get what I’m saying? Part of the rationale that is completely off base here is the timeframe. So in two years, an ARM chip MIGHT be able to keep up with an i3. And, which mainstream Macs sell with i3 chips in them? Bueller? Bueller? Not to mention, this supposes intel will be sitting on its hands for two years? It’s not clear whether Kuo is saying that ARM chips in 2 years would be on par with today’s i3 or whatever intel would have in that segment in two years. Needless to say, it’s never a selling point to say that a chip could be on par with an entry level chip of intel’s in 2 years, which Apple doesn’t even bother with in their retail Macs. Intel had their feet held to the fire by AMD a while back and they pushed back with guns blazing and largely superior products. With Apple gaining marketshare in PCs intel has to be aware of the stakes at hand.

    Personally, I don’t know why intel doesn’t just buy ARM and have all the bases covered, but that’s another story.

  4. None of us know what ideas and technologies Apple has that will not work on a present Intel chip. None of us knows the full potential of Apple’s A9, A10, or (someday) A23 chips. Why is it so hard to trust that if Apple knows it can implement new ideas and technology with its A-series chips that it can’t with Intel CPUs, that it would be right in dumping Intel and going with its own A-series chips? Intel does not design for Apple. It has its own road map, and where that road map disagrees with Apple’s road map has got to be a huge source of frustration for Apple. Apple moved away for PPC when it couldn’t support future features and technology. I never viewed that move as anything but temporary. Why does everyone expect Apple to be content to be held back by Intel?

    1. Because the resurrection of Apple began with the porting of iTunes and iPod to PC and the transition to Intel. Finally, PC users had a chance and a reason to use Apple, and no reason not to. The iPhone and iPad gave more reasons to switch and Boot Camp and Parallels gave no reason not to switch. Inferior Intel or not, dropping Intel would cease the slow but steady rise of the Mac.

      1. OS X and its unique capabilities is what enabled the Apple ecosystem and differentiated Apple from the rest. It’s BSD Unix with a user friendly GUI on top. It provides the engine for everything Apple does. iOS is a direct derivative of OS X. Apple went to Intel chips reluctantly when IBM’s Power PC chips couldn’t achieve the desired speeds. Intel CPUs were never, and still aren’t anything but a stop gap solution. Apple will dump Intel CPUs for its own design soon. Apple hasn’t built a chip design department in order to continue using off the shelf Intel products.

  5. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s report of Apple moving Macs to A-Series CPUs is baloney.

    But it does effectively point out that Intel is lagging behind schedule. Effectively, Moore’s Law has run out of steam. A new breakthrough in CPU tech is required ASAP. So far, I don’t think it’s going to be quantum computing. Not yet anyway. Quantum is still far too expensive, unreliable and underdeveloped, merely novelty Gee Whiz! tech at this point. That’s why Google is interested in it. <–sarcasm!

  6. Pretty easy to see that Apple has ideas for functionality that it wants to implement in hardware, like the Secure Enclave, that are intimately tied to the rest of the architecture. Relying on Intel to keep up with this kind of stuff is how Intel lost the mobile market (low power!). They’ve proven they have very little ability to skate to where the puck will be, or even see the puck.
    Pretty soon (possibly right now) Intel will be viewed as holding back the innovations in hardware that could happen. I’d like touchID and applePay on my macbook pro, thanks.
    At the very least Apple needs a plan to keep moving forward without Intel.

  7. It is hard not to believe that Apple would love to us their own processors across the board. Also easy to believe that some (many/most ?) customers would love (use/tolerate ?) a device that could easily be both a mac book and ipad. If it became possible and desirable I would bet that Apple will do it. I, for one, like having two devices that specialize. YMMV, of course. I’m actually using an android tablet in place of an ipad since, to me, it seems a better choice. But you will get my macbook pro only by prying it from my cold fingers. So to speak. There will always be rumors and I think that Apple is working on ideas like these and, I hope, even wilder ones.

  8. Apple could have an ARM based line of MacBookAirs and an entry level iMacs ( think 13″ – 15″ screen size.) These would be for consumer and education. Apple will not abandon INTEL for reasons already stated. Someday in the future there will be a convergence of the iOS and Mac OS X operating systems, and there will be only one OS. 🙂

    1. Apple will not abandon INTEL

      Back when the PPC outperformed the Pentium, nobody thought Apple would ever switch to x86. Things change.

      I don’t believe I’ll be using an x86 Mac in five years. Whether its successor is ARM-based or some entirely new architecture, I expect Apple to switch when it makes sense to do so.

      -jcr

  9. Apple is a company that sits back and waits for others to test markets while technology catches up. The iPhone was an evolution of prior art, the iPad was an evolution of prior art, basically everything has been an evolution of others work. If they do go ARM, it would be a drastic departure from a formula that works. With a CEO that is a logistics person, I smell the biggest mistake potential in recent Apple history here. I fail to see a reason to do this. Rewrite code, alienate users, intel is the best at what they do, prices will go up based on lower volume if chip…just silly.
    Apple stock may be heading down hard if they go this route. Just an opinion, but we saw this happen before.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.