Apple's Potential Shift from Intel to ARM for Macs Not Implausible, But Faces Hurdles

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Following up on yesterday's report from Bloomberg that has rekindled discussion of Apple potentially making a switch from Intel's processors to custom ARM-based chips for its Mac lines, AllThingsD takes a closer look at the landscape to analyze the benefits and challenges of such a move.

    The report contrasts Intel's focus on performance with ARM's focus on power efficiency and notes that there is no inherent reason why Apple couldn't push ARM technology more toward the performance end of the spectrum to make the chips more suitable for desktops and notebooks.
    The report points to ARM's just-announced 64-bit processor designs as being key to any move into the Mac, and notes that Russian company Elbrus Technologies has developed a Rosetta-like emulation technology that could allow ARM chips to run software written for Intel processors.

    On the flip side, Intel has a long track record of being at the forefront of processor performance and a strong history with Apple since the company's Mac lines transitioned from PowerPC chips seven years ago. As a result, any decision to switch from Intel to ARM obviously can not be made lightly, and Apple is clearly taking an extended timeframe to examine the possibility. But with Bob Mansfield now heading up a division of Apple dedicated new technologies in wireless and semiconductors, it seems that there may be a renewed focus on pushing the boundaries of the ARM platform even further.

    Article Link: Apple's Potential Shift from Intel to ARM for Macs Not Implausible, But Faces Hurdles
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Mr Fusion

    May 7, 2007
    This would be a very silly move.

    Switching to their own chips I could possibly understand, but ARM? Eventually they're going to let them down just like IBM and Intel. :cool:
  3. macrumors 68040


    Apr 18, 2011
    I would believe:
    Intel -> Apple custom silicon

    A lot more than:
    Intel -> ARM

    But I'm sure Apple have both options up and running in their lab.
  4. macrumors regular


    Aug 12, 2010
    Apple's custom silicon is based on ARM design (A5). Even the A6 so doesn't mean they can't build on ARM's offerings.
  5. macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2012
    Intel makes some damn good processors that fit well into small portable computers. The major reason I see to switch to custom arm silicon would be binary compatibility. I feel like a lot of this is idle speculation to make an interesting conversation. I'm sure Apple is considering their options, but right now Intel is an extremely compelling option.
  6. macrumors 68040

    Mad Mac Maniac

    Oct 4, 2007
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    Apple is just playing it smart. I'd be surprised if Apple WASN'T considering other options. They'd be fools to just blindly use Intel without any backup plans.
  7. macrumors regular


    Feb 28, 2012
    if history has taught anything to apple, mistakes like these could possibly shake things up in apple's camp

    love intel, not in love with this news/rumor, what do u say guys?
  8. macrumors 6502


    Jul 26, 2004
    Penn's Woods
    Wow, now we have something to digest and debate well into 2014...
  9. macrumors member

    May 12, 2011
    Hamburg, Germany

    Biggest hurdle will be, that nobody will buy those products.

    p.s. If they already have a roadmap for the switch, I hope they used "Google maps" at least.
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 5, 2010
    Good thing Apple is looking out or its customers again. If there's one thing we need its a low power chip on all those desktops.
  11. macrumors 6502a

    STiNG Operation

    Aug 15, 2012
    The Zoo
    What? Did they have a fight with intel now? lol just kidding. But seriously why run the hurdle race when intel has a good product?

  12. macrumors 68040


    Apr 18, 2011
    I agree 100%. I think if Apple went this route they'd take an ARM base design and change it to suit their needs (just like in the iPad).
  13. macrumors regular


    Feb 28, 2012
    looks like apple can't digest its own success and making such frivolous moves.

    sales of macs increased bec of intel cpu's, this move is bad if history has taught anything to apple.
  14. sza
    macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2010
  15. macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2009
    "hell-bent on performance", really?

    They have been that way for a long while, but if they were paying attention, they know that Intel has been putting a decent amount of effort in their Atom chips (lower power offers). They not have chips that are low enough in power usage to run on a mobile phone (the Motorola RAZR i for those that are wondering). And Intel seems to have roadmaps to get power usage even lower on their devices moving forward.
  16. macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2006
    Good luck competing with Intel. As it stands right now, if someone hit the big pause button on Intel, it will still take multiple years for ARM to design and its partners to mass manufacture something that competes fair and square with Ivy Bridge. If Apple stuffs an underperforming ARM chip in MacBook Air and gives people better battery life - they are going to have a hard time telling people what they need the iPad and the Air for.

    And Intel isn't going to sit still - they would rather they eat ARM's lunch by releasing a power efficient x86 SoC that obliterates ARM's performance at comparable power draw. They are already doing quite OK with the Atom SoC in the RAZR i.
  17. macrumors 68040


    Apr 18, 2011
    Cause if there is a hurdle in the future they won't have the years to design a solution. They'll have to already spent the years making the solution. Ie better to have a solution you never have to use then get caught with your pants down and no immediate solution.
  18. macrumors 601


    Oct 1, 2010
    Could go either way, but if done right there could be some real benefits for processors in the future.

    I, for one, am glad that someone is doing the the research.
  19. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 4, 2007
    It's a clever ploy by Tim Cook to keep Bob Mansfield happily working for Apple. There's nothing an engineer loves so much as a good challenge.
  20. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 5, 2007
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Apple isn't this retarded people - this is all stemmed from the quarrels that Apple has with Intel.

    If ANYTHING happens, Apple will design their own in-house x86/64 CPUs.. Much like AMD is to Intel.

    To further build a case, I bet Apple is interested in a hybrid CPU that has a mobile-core for lightweight tasks that switches to full-power x86/64 CPU for more demanding tasks. This will improve battery life in notebooks tremendously.

  21. macrumors 68040


    Sep 24, 2010
    Apple can pull this off. :apple:
  22. macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2012
    "The new ARM-based Mac Pro. For the pro in all of us"...
  23. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2007
    Rosetta like clone all over again? Backwards.
  24. macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    Because they have to keep their options open. Intel's doing great right now but that might not always be the case - the Pentium 4 was an atrocious processor and AMD trumped them in almost every way. These days AMD isn't really much of a contender due to comparatively lacklustre performance. If Intel missteps and spends another 5 years pushing a poor processor, Apple might do well to use a different technology.
  25. macrumors 6502


    Jan 26, 2006
    SLC, Utah

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