It’s been a long-standing rumor that Apple will switch to its own, proprietary ’A’ series of ARM-based chips in its MacBook and desktop machines. Currently, Apple relies heavily on Intel to provide processors for its computers — the MacBook specifically.
In terms of the MacBook, a recent interview with the director of Intel’s Ultrabook group shows that Intel sees Apple switching to ARM processors as a very real threat. There could very well be a day when all Apple products run on the same series of chips — and that series will be exclusively made by Apple.
If Apple were to move Macs to ARM-based architecture right now, it would be a total disaster. The processing power is just not there for a MacBook or iMac. Apple has relied on the A series for its mobile devices, like the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. But in the future, when ARM chips get better? It’s very possible.
Intel sees the possibility of Apple moving to ARM on the desktop as a very real possibility, and the head of Intel’s new Ultrabook division (a project created to combat the form factor and market that the MacBook Air currently dominates), told CNET that, “We endeavor to innovate so they’ll continue to look to us as a supplier.”
The Q&A reads:
“What about the threat of ARM and Apple’s potential use of its A series of ARM processors in future MacBooks?
Welch: We hear the same rumors and it would be remiss of us to be dismissive. We endeavor to innovate so they’ll continue to look to us as a supplier.”
Apple’s use of the A4 in the iPhone 4 and A5 in the iPad 2 demonstrates the most recent examples of how integrated software and hardware work so well together. If Apple were to use its own chips in its internally designed hardware on its own software, the MacBook (and possibly iMac) would have a huge upper hand.
Apple wouldn’t need to compete for parts deals, competitors wouldn’t be able to copy innovations so easily, and more proprietary tech would give Apple extra control over its product release schedule.
Let’s not forget the recent report that Apple threatened to drop Intel over its power-hungry chips. Intel is clearly feeling the heat from Apple, and the looming threat of ARM is becoming more real than ever.
The A6 chip is expected to drop next year in one of Apple’s upcoming products. It could very well be a long time before ARM architecture arrives on the Mac, and we’re sure that Intel is hoping for that more than anyone right now.