Apple, a semiconductor superpower in the making, looks to build their own ARM-based processors for Macs

“Apple is expanding efforts to develop proprietary semiconductors to better compete in artificial intelligence, reducing reliance on major suppliers such as Intel and Qualcomm, according to industry sources in Asia,” Cheng Ting-fang reports for Nikkei. “‘By designing its own chips, Apple can better differentiate itself from others. Further, depending too much on other chip suppliers in the age of artificial intelligence will deter its development,’ said Mark Li, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein.”

“Industry sources and analysts suggest that Apple is keen to expand its semiconductor capabilities further. They say the company is interested in building core processors for notebooks, modem chips for iPhones, and a chip that integrates touch, fingerprint and display driver functions,” Cheng writes. “Bernstein’s Li said that Apple has invested in research and development for baseband modem chips responsible for mobile communication. Currently, it purchase these from Qualcomm and Intel. ‘It would not be surprising that Apple develops its own [modem chip],’ he said.”

“Core processor chips for the MacBook range is another area Apple is trying to venture into. Two industry sources say that Apple is trying to cut its dependence on Intel when it comes to notebook chips and instead build those using ARM architecture, referring to the SoftBank-controlled British chip designer,” Cheng writes. “The U.S. tech giant’s efforts to turn itself into a chip powerhouse have unsettled some suppliers [Qualcomm, Imagination Technologies, Dialog Semiconductor, Intel]… Still, not all of Apple’s chip suppliers are facing a potentially grim future. Foundry service providers which make chips for Apple may actually grow on the back of its efforts to build its own chips, as the U.S. company does not plan to operate its own semiconductor production facilities, industry sources said. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, is the most obvious benefactor.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Something we’ve long expected:

Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either.MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014

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