Apple unlikely to replace Intel across the entirety of Macintosh product line

“Apple intends to design its own processors for future versions of its Mac personal computers, according to Bloomberg,” Ashraf Eassa writes for The Motley Fool. “Although Apple is certainly capable of developing high-performance processors and has nearly infinite financial resources at its disposal, the reality is that this purported transition away from Intel-based processors and toward Apple-designed ones won’t be easy.”

“At a bare minimum, Apple will need to get software developers to recompile their code for the ARM architecture upon which these chips will be built, which will have its own challenges,” Eassa writes. “And there’s another aspect to this whole initiative that people don’t seem to be talking about: the sheer number of chips that Apple would have to develop.”

“Apple would need to design a lot of chips, including distinct options for each of the following products: 12-inch MacBook, MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, 15-inch MacBook Pro/iMac, Mac Pro,” Eassa writes. “In light of that, it’s rather astonishing to think that Apple would want to replace Intel across the entirety of its product line. It’d be smarter, then, for Apple to replace Intel-based processors in its 12-inch MacBook using the same processor that it uses in its iPad Pro lineup and then continue to use Intel-based chips in the higher-performance/higher-power models (MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro).”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yup.

There is no reason why Apple could not offer both A-series-powered Macs and Intel-based Macs. The two are not mutually exclusive. — MacDailyNews, January 14, 2015

iOS devices and OS X Macs inevitably are going to grow closer over time, not just in hardware, but in software, as well:

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

SEE ALSO:
Why the next Mac processor transition won’t be like the last two – April 4, 2018
Apple’s ‘Kalamata’ project will move Macs from Intel to Apple A-series processors – April 2, 2018
Apple plans on dumping Intel for its own chips in Macs as early as 2020 – April 2, 2018
Apple is working to unite iOS and macOS; will they standardize their chip platform next? – December 21, 2017
Why Apple would want to unify iOS and Mac apps in 2018 – December 20, 2017
Apple to provide tool for developers build cross-platform apps that run on iOS and macOS in 2018 – December 20, 2017
The once and future OS for Apple – December 8, 2017
Apple ships more microprocessors than Intel – October 2, 2017
Apple embarrasses Intel – June 14, 2017
Apple developing new chip for Macintosh in test of Intel independence – February 1, 2017
Apple’s A10 Fusion chip ‘blows away the competition,’ could easily power MacBook Air – Linley Group – October 21, 2016
Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple to unveil new 13-inch MacBook, 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros at ‘hello again’ special event – October 22, 2016
What to expect from Apple’s ‘hello again’ special Mac event – October 21, 2016
What Apple’s new MacBook Pro might have learned from iPhones and iPads – October 21, 2016
It’s official: Apple sends invitations for ‘hello again’ event on October 27th – October 19, 2016
Get ready, Apple’s new Macs are finally set to arrive! – October 19, 2016
All-new MacBook Pro, refreshed MacBook Air and iMac, and more coming at Apple’s October 27th special event – October 19, 2016
Apple plans to launch new Macs at special event on October 27th – October 18, 2016
macOS Sierra code suggests Apple could dump Intel processors in Macs for Apple A-series chips – September 30, 2016
Apple’s A10 Fusion chip miracle – September 20, 2016
The iPhone’s new A10 Fusion chip should worry Intel – September 16, 2016
Apple’s remarkable new A10, S2, W1 chips alter the semiconductor landscape – September 15, 2016

19 Comments

  1. Yep, Apple should use the best chipset that is available from who ever, especially for the PRO line up, be it Intel, AMD or ARM. At the moment it is Intel who has the best chipset for Pro usage. The Arm Chips are excellent on mobile devices over Intel designs, however proverbially speaking, as good as the Toyota HiLux is, it is no substitute for a full size MACK truck.

    1. Really, why haven’s Apple done that yet instead of Buying i5, i7 and Xeons from Intel? With their own optimised x86 processor Apple would be more independent instead of relying on Intel. The reason Apple havent done that is because Apple cant make their own X86 Chips. When Apple moved to Intel under Steve jobs, there was a huge coding challenge to move from Motorola chips, but Steve jobs made it happen, and Apple can make the change agin if they had their own x86 chips

    1. I agree it is doable, as Apple have done when they switched to Intel from Motorola chips. Apple made the best phone in the world that others copied. However in order to do its own x86 chips Apple needs to have the right leadership and management, the skill and money is not the issue. With Apple maps, Siri’s falling behind competitors, one has to ask does Apple have the leadership to make its own x86 based chips? I dont think so. Eddy Cue is not the only Lazy and rudderless one in Apple’s top leadership!!

      1. Apple already has a chip tailored to run OSX very well in a 64-bit mode, but that didn’t happen overnight. It has taken years and years of experience with designing, mass producing and utilizing those chips. It’s the mass production and utilization that really shows you where your potential problems are and allows for improvements. As a result think at this point, it would be far easier and quicker for Apple to make the changes to Xcode and LLVM to support an A-series processor than it would be to design and produce an x86. In addition, based on the fact that the A-series processor would be executing the compiled code directly (instead of passing through a microcode pre-processor as in the x86 world) there’s a good chance that cycle for cycle, the A series chip would spend far more time executing code than preparing code for execution… leading to a performance increase that would set them apart from the industry.

        And, just like in the mobile space, the industry would not be able to catch up any time soon. Intel and AMD would be forced to continue producing backwards compatible processors and not able to go completely 64-bit for a long time.

        In some future bake-off, Apple will pit an Intel Mac running FCPX against an Aseries chip Mac running FCPX and the rendering speed difference will be phenomenal. Apple will make it compelling for certain users (those users that care nary a whit about Intel compatibility) to move to Aseries immediately.

        1. A-SERIES PROTESTANT; X86 CATHOLIC

          “…A-series processor would be executing the compiled code directly (instead of passing through a microcode pre-processor as in the x86 world) there’s a good chance that cycle for cycle, the A series chip would spend far more time executing code than preparing code for execution…” can be likened to

          A Protestant would be confessing one’s sins directly (instead of passing through a confessional as in the Catholic world), there’s a good chance that service to service, the Protestant church would spend far more time glorifying God than listening to sinners stating their sins through an intermediary…

  2. This will be a very protracted and painful process for developers and customers alike. Without clear end advantages making up for the disadvantages Apple further risks losing markets.

    This discussion happening now will certainly make pros more anxious needing a stable long-term environment and with all that’s going on with the Mac Pro make it seem a perfect time to bail on Apple and jump ship to a PC Workstation. (And many who stay with OS X under ARM would also lose the ability to install Windows making each platform an either one or the other choice.)

  3. I really don’t want to go through another Universal binary code mess that includes code for both chips.. it sucked last time and it will suck again… I’m not convinced that there is need to switch at this point. Its not like the stagnation that apple was suffering from with PowerPC… Intel is developing and getting faster… Apple could always add coprocessors for niche functionality that they want if needed..

    1. Look at the mobile space and how Apple may be forced to produce ANOTHER laptop that can’t access more than 16 gigs of memory and it’s EXACTLY the same place we were suffering with PowerPC. For several years in a row, the desktop advanced as the laptop market was held back because the chipmaker (PowerPC/IBM, x86/Intel) aren’t focused on providing a high performance laptop processor/processor that supported 32 gigs of RAM.

    1. You’d not pass antitrust laws with moves like that.

      If Apple was led by competent caring management, Apple would have exclusive access to the bleeding edge Intel chips and install them immediately on Macs as normal operating procedure. Premium products must have premium components.

      1. Right now, “bleeding edge” for laptops is 16 gigs only. For 32 gigs, they won’t be releasing that this year, MAYBE next year unless they delay again. If Apple wanted to buy out their entire inventory, they couldn’t because the inventory doesn’t even exist.

  4. “the sheer number of chips that Apple would have to develop”
    This is thinking based on the past and not based on the future. The “sheer number” becomes “two” when you think about it logically. Intel is FORCED to produce a broad number of chips because they have to give you a reason to spend hundreds of dollars at the high end, but also, not allow any competitors to move into their territory at the low end. Apple really only needs to produce a desktop version, with a wider thermal profile, and a portable version. They can all have integrated graphics (they make their own now), and the same performance profile, the same cache, the same number of cores, you just pay more to get the fastest versions of the same processor. The desktop versions could standardize around a greater number of cores or higher powered discrete graphics, again, only differentiated by clock speed.

  5. IASSOTS. Why is this subject always fraught with profound ignorance?

    I’m so sick of stupid articles, stupid analcysts and stupid comments from people who have not-a-clue about what it takes to move an OS from CISC based to RISC based CPUs. And in this case, the profound importance that ALL Macs move to RISC if ANY Macs move to RISC.

    Oh and NO kiddies! A recompile is NOT enough to move your software from CISC to RISC.

    I’ll be sure to ignore articles by Ashraf Eassa @Motley Fool in the future. Fool is the word.

  6. So, I will wait after the transition and I will decide to move in when all my important professional applications run fine on the new system. And I have profound doubts the transition will be like buying a new Mac and migrate from the older one. I don’t care what Inside anymore as long as I have a quality and powerful system to do what I love

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