Former Intel engineer: Skylake problems pushed Apple to move Mac to Apple silicon

The “bad quality assurance of Skylake” was responsible for Apple finally making the decision to dump Intel and focus on its own ARM-based processors for high-performance Macs, former Intel principal engineer François Piednoël tells PC Gamer.

Apple on Monday, June 22, 2020 announced it will transition the Mac to its world-class custom silicon to deliver industry-leading performance and powerful technologies.
Apple on Monday, June 22, 2020 announced it will transition the Mac to its world-class custom silicon to deliver industry-leading performance and powerful technologies.

Dave James for PC Gamer:

[Most observers believe that Apple’s main consideration was for moving the Mac from Intel to Apple-designed ARM-based silicon was] to consolidate the architectures across all its different platforms, from iPhone, through iPad, and finally into its laptop and desktop range.

That makes complete sense from a business and an architectural point of view, but while it’s something Piednoël says was always under consideration by Apple, he believes if the company hadn’t found so many issues within the Skylake architecture it would still be onboard the Intel chip train. It was the straw that broke the Apple’s back, so to speak.

“The quality assurance of Skylake was more than a problem,” says Piednoël during a casual Xplane chat and stream session. “It was abnormally bad. We were getting way too much citing for little things inside Skylake. Basically our buddies at Apple became the number one filer of problems in the architecture. And that went really, really bad… When your customer starts finding almost as much bugs as you found yourself, you’re not leading into the right place.”

It has to be said that this is just the publicly stated opinion of one former Intel engineer and can’t necessarily be taken as fact, and obviously isn’t the only reason for the switch either.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s plan is being executed. If Skylake caused anything, it merely accelerated Apple’s timetable.


  1. I think a little bit of self importance and relevance at play there I think which helps make him look and no doubt feel like an informed observer rather than in any way linked or integral to whatever problems there were. As MDN says all it could have done was brought forward timing by a year at the very most. This will have been years in the planning and is strategic rather than reactive to any particular issue by nature, for the limitations and deficiencies in Intel chips and procedures was clear from almost as far back as Apples forced change to them. I suspect t the long term plan to eventually be reliant on their own silicon as and when feasible goes back even further.

  2. It didn’t tip any scales. As MDM states, all it could have done was speed up Apple’s time table.

    Side Note: Was in a plane to the Bay Area roughly 3 years ago. Sitting in front of me was an Intel guy on his MBP. He had open an internal presentation discussing what NOT to talk to Apple about, and where to steer the conversations. How to spin and focus on roadmap.

    Basically it was to sell a future promise and get away from the present issues – a CYA document all the way.

    This guy has his family along so he was quite distracted and likely had ADD. He flipped between the presentation and ESPN almost ever 45 seconds or so, then back to the internal document.

    Intel build generic mass market chips. Meanwhile Apple is so far beyond that, with security, AI, photography, Face-ID, in and on. Intel has so little to offer Apple needs to move the Mac forward, and getting Intel to do anything out of lock step with their own road map… difficult to do.

    Then there is what is known in Intel and the industry as the “Intel tax.” Gross margins are around 70%+ typically.

    Meanwhile, A-series at peak production are around $25 – $30 each. Granted Mac chips (let’s call them “M-series”), will cost much more due to their lower volume production, but even at double the cost, they will be much less than Intel silicon.

    Chipzilla is use to telling people what they will do and when they will get product and where they are going. Take it or that’s that.

    Intel does not at like a supplier asking “what do you need?” Rather, they act like a King, “And here is what you shall receive…” A big problem is the Intel kingdom is crumbling down fast. AMD is eating their lunch, Apple’s finally done with them, and even Microsoft sees need to look elsewhere.

    Even Xbox and PS5 are AMD not Intel.

    Intel will be death by a thousand paper cuts, many self inflicted.

    No one should want to be the Intel CEO in about 12 months from now, when Apple is going to absolutely be embarrassing them, along with AMD continuing to launch on schedule.

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