The MacBook Air Could Have Had An ARM Processor After Apple Threatened Intel Over Power-Hungry Chips



One Intel director revealed in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal that Apple threatened to drop the chip maker over its hungry processors if it couldn’t “drastically slash” the amount of power they demanded.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Intel’s Ultrabook director, Greg Welch, revealed that Apple executives gave the company “a real wake-up call” that prompted it to create its low-power Core processors for ultraportable notebooks like the MacBook Air.

Welch didn’t reveal when Apple’s warnings came, but back in May the company announced a revision to its product roadmap to lower the average power consumption of its chips from around 35-40 watts to just 15 watts. Changes like this mean that super small notebooks with their tiny batteries can enjoy longer runtime before you need to break out the power cord.

Intel is hoping that in addition to Apple, PC manufacturers also use the chips to create ultraportables:

“To date if you wanted that sleek design you had to buy a Mac. There are people who want a PC in that form factor.”

According to SlashGear, this isn’t the first time Apple has influenced Intel’s roadmap:

Intel has previously admitted that Apple has a strong hand in shaping its roadmap, with senior VP Tom Kilroy saying that the Cupertino company’s demands “push us hard.” The comments came on the heels of rumors that Apple might look to ARM-based chips for future notebooks, building on the success of the Apple A4 and A5 found in the iPhone and iPad.

So there you have it; without Apple’s demands, it’s possible we’d have had to wait a great deal longer for thinner, lighter notebooks with acceptable battery life.

  • lsla70
  • WVMikeP

    IIRC, that’s basically why Apple ditched PowerPC for Intel.

  • Mike Rathjen

    I think that would mean Rosetta 2 and no boot camp, no Parallels, no Fusion.

    Well there is rumor of Windows ARM, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • firesign

    Yep. IBM couldn’t come up with a G5 that wasn’t a power hog and didn’t run hot.

  • PratikThakkar

    No there is no rumor the next version of Windows will run on ARM. They demoed Windows running on arm at this years CES. The next few years are going to be tough for Intel.

  • shucai66
  • imajoebob

    My first thought, too.
    Can you imagine being the guy who sold the IBM board the idea that they should dump Apple to sell PPC-based chips for Xbox?  Talk about missing an opportunity.  Everyone of those Macs, iPhones and iPads could have an IBM chip running it.  I’ll bet today s/he’s the Asst Mgr of HR in their Bismarck retail services office.

  • Daibidh


    An ARM processor?!  Do you you pass these rumors on with a straight face?  While I have no doubt Apple wanted to press the point that Intel HAD to deliver a powerful mobile processor with even better power management, but threaten with an ARM processor?!  Intel would have called their bluff right then and there had they even tried!  I’m sure they didn’t.  

    These ARM rumors are intriguing but we are YEARS away from seeing one threaten the current status quo in desktop design. 

  • vipshopper57
  • JDWages

    And just how many years away would that be?

  • Coty Miller

    An ARM processer, I’d buy one, I’m ready for a low power consumption laptop, tired of tablets getting all the good stuff.