Apple developing custom Mac chip, but it won’t replace Intel

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2016 MacBook Pro
The new MacBook Pro already uses a secondary ARM chip.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple is developing a custom ARM chip for future Macs, but it won’t replace the Intel processors that have been powering its computers since 2005, according to a new report.

Instead, the chip is expected to work alongside a machine’s primary CPU, handling “low-power mode functionality.”

Intel wants to make iPhone processors by 2018

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Future iPhone processors may be made by Intel.
Future iPhone processors may be made by Intel.
Photo: Apple

The next iPhone you buy might have Intel inside, if the company is able to succeed in its new plans to overthrow Apple’s long-time partner, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

Intel, the world’s-largest chipmaker, is reportedly looking to make a big splash in mobile chips and has already started talking to Apple about taking over orders to make the ARM processors used in the iPad and iPhone.

ARM’s new chips will come with 3.5x performance boost

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The iPhone's processor is about to get supercharged. Photo: iFixit
The iPhone's processor is about to get supercharged. Photo: iFixit

ARM holdings, the company behind the mobile processor architecture that powers the iPhone and iPad, unveiled its next generation processor blueprints today that it says will increase performance three fold compared to its current designs.

The new Cortex-A72 chips aimed at smartphone and tablets will make their debut next year — just in time for the iPhone 7 — and also use 75% less power while maintaining the same level of performance as today’s ARM processors, paving the way for thinner, more powerful iPhones in the future.

Intel CEO says he’s not worried about Apple ditching them for ARM

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Rumors that Apple might ditch Intel chips in the Mac for ARM-based chips of their own design are nothing new. Back in 2012, we reported that Apple would soon be dropping Intel chips from all their Macs. And earlier this year, ex-Apple-executive Jean-Louis Gassée claimed that he thought Apple would soon ditch Intel too. Heck, even Intel has said in the past it considered Apple switching to ARM on the desktop to be a very real and scary threat. Yet it still hasn’t happened. So far, it’s the rumor equivalent of the Apple HDTV: even though it endlessly comes up in the news cycle, it still hasn’t happened.

Even so, when usually accurate analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from KGI Securities issued a note last week saying that Apple would fully switch from Intel to ARM by 2016, it caused a ruckus. People took the rumor more seriously than most, just based on Kuo’s amazing track record. But according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, he’s not worried. But he’s also not denying it’s a possibility.

Ex-Apple Exec says Macs could run on ARM processors by 2016

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macbookairarm

Over the years, I’ve seen rumor after rumor that Apple would eventually abandon Intel chips in favor of ARM chips. And time after time, I’ve refuted those arguments, saying that a Mac running ARM processors is not likely to happen anytime soon.

But maybe I’m wrong. Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée — himself a longtime skeptic of Apple’s transition to ARM chips for its desktop and laptop computers — says he’s recently been convinced, and even believes that Apple could release ARM-based Macs as soon as 2016.

Crystal Baller: ARM-based Macs and 5 other wacky Apple rumors

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Gaze into our ball to see past the rumors and into the future...

We get slammed 24/7 with new Apple rumors. Some are accurate, most are not. To give you a clue about what’s really coming out of Cupertino in the future, we’re busting out our rumor debunker each week to blow up the nonsense.

WWDC kept the Apple universe incredibly busy with a slew of new operating systems, thousands of APIs and an entirely new coding language to boot, but that hasn't stopped the rumor mill from churning out a delicious lineup of juicy rumors.

This week we've heard everything from the typical "Apple really is making a big iPhone" to the more insane ideas like "Apple is killing the headphone jack on all products." Step right up and dive into the details with us as we figure out which rumors to trust and which belong on the Island of Misfits.


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We get slammed 24/7 with new Apple rumors. Some are accurate, most are not. To give you a clue about what’s really coming out of Cupertino in the future, we’re busting out our rumor debunker each week to blow up the nonsense.

 

Apple’s 64-Bit A7 Caught Entire Semiconductor Industry With Its Pants Down

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apple_a7_chip

After Apple released the iPhone 5s with the A7, the world’s first 64-bit chip, ARM competitor Qualcomm made quite the fool of themselves about it. First, Qualcomm representative Anand Chandrasekher called a 64-bit ARM chip a “gimmick.” Then they ate their words, soft fired Chandrasekher, and announced their own 64-bit chip to ship in 2014.

If that seems like a disorganized, chaotic response, you’re right. But there’s a reason for that. According to a new report, Apple’s unveiling of the 64-bit A7 chip took the entire semiconductor industry with their pants down… and everyone’s now scrambling to catch up.