Apple Interested in Developing ARM-Based Mac Processors and iPhone Modems in House

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple is continuing to expand manufacturing efforts related to the production of its own chips, according to a new report today by Nikkei, which stated that the company aims to "better compete" in the artificial intelligence field and reduce reliance on major suppliers like Intel and Qualcomm. Nikkei's sources said Apple's interest lies in building "core processors for notebooks, modem chips for iPhones, and a chip that integrates touch, fingerprint and display driver functions."

    Apple has reportedly "invested in research and development" for baseband modem chips -- currently sourced from Intel and Qualcomm -- which are required for cellular communication features on Apple's mobile devices. Analysts pointed towards Apple's legal fight with Qualcomm, and its poaching of Qualcomm modem chip engineer Esin Terzioglu, as examples to bolster the theory that the Cupertino company is ready to build its own modem chips.

    iPhone 8 teardown by iFixit

    Building its own core processor chips for MacBooks would reduce Apple's dependence on Intel, with two industry sources stating that Apple would instead build its notebook chips using ARM Holding's technology, a British company that designs ARM architecture and licenses it out to other companies. Apple's interest in designing chips that integrate touch, fingerprint and display driver functions is said to be because the company "wants to control next-generation display technology and some related key components."

    Multiple analysts provided theories behind Apple's move to design more of its own chips for its products, which included staying on the forefront of artificial intelligence, lowering production costs, better protecting proprietary technology, and more.
    Apple has long designed and built the core processing chips found in iPhones and iPads, but this year reports began to emerge of the company's hope to expand the amount of internal iOS device components that it creates on its own. In April, Apple informed Imagination Technology that it would stop using its graphics technology over the next two years, aiming to make its own graphics processing chips and lessen its reliance on the supplier. Less official was a prediction by analyst Karsten Iltgen that Apple would drop Dialog Semiconductor from its supply chain and move to its own in-house power management chips for iPhones by 2019.

    This week, Apple was part of a consortium that purchased Toshiba's much-sought-after NAND memory chip unit for $17.7 billion, another move that will eventually allow Apple to be less reliant on other suppliers for device components. Still, many of Apple's in-house chip production lines are many years off, with analyst Mark Li stating that it's "unlikely" Apple will be able to debut its own components -- specifically referring to the modem chips -- within the next two years.

    Article Link: Apple Interested in Developing ARM-Based Mac Processors and iPhone Modems in House
  2. WiiDSmoker macrumors 65816


    Sep 15, 2009
    Hermitage, TN
    Lots of companies are gonna be in for a world of financial hurt when Apple pulls their contracts and no longer needs them.
  3. Return Zero macrumors 6502a

    Return Zero

    Oct 2, 2013
    All I want for Christmas... is an A-powered Mac Mini.
  4. oldoneeye macrumors member


    Sep 23, 2014
    Sadly ARM is no longer British, but was sold to Softbank ....
  5. meme1255 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 15, 2012
    Czech Republic
    Macs can't move to ARM unless they invent x86 to ARM instruction set translation without performance penalty - Mac doesn't make sense without ability to run x86 virtual machines (Linux, Windows).
  6. MuzakaEklekta macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2006
    If this means an ARM-based Mac mini, I'll take it. ANYTHING will do, as long as it has enough horsepower to run macOS smoothly with real desktop horsepower.
  7. nauf8 macrumors newbie


    Apr 25, 2016
    Building its own core processor chips for MacBooks would reduce Apple's independence on Intel
  8. icanhazapple macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2009
  9. adepew macrumors regular


    Jun 21, 2016
    Dependence? lol
  10. simonmet macrumors 68000


    Sep 9, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    I noticed that typo as well.
  11. imran5720 macrumors regular


    Dec 21, 2013
    I would love a mac with 64 core arm bionic processor , and its quite possible when using ARM technology
  12. tipoo macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2017
    The Apple TV being actively cooled and already being well more powerful than the Mac Mini's CPU and GPU would be an interesting inflection point. More ports, more NAND, more RAM, and this would be an interesting place to start, and get devs to start compiling for ARM before the rest of the line moves (similar to their x86 transition, wasn't every system at once)


    Question will be what becomes of Boot Camp. Though there will be ARM Windows builds too, and Microsoft was working on a binary translator in software...Perfect storm?
  13. Red Oak macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2011
    A future A15X chip in a MacBook will obliterate anything Intel can do. 12 CPU cores + 3GHZ clock speed + 6 GB RAM => 10,000 single thread Geekbench, 20,000 multi-core
  14. Hater macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2017
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Sounds like the Integrated Burrell Machine all over again, in fact I wonder what Burrell would think of it all?

    People thinking that an Apple built ARM processor wiping the floor of Intel need a reality check.
  15. thomasthegps macrumors regular

    Sep 23, 2015
    not surprising at all. Microsoft demoed Windows running on ARM snapdragon 835. If apple wants to create a Mac Laptop with bootcamp support for Windows ARM, they could. Can't wait for the "Transition Keynote" "Motorola to PPC, PPC to intel and now Intel to Arm"
  16. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    I'd be interested in an ARM powered MacBook/MBP if it can get within 20% of Intel and AMD running desktop programs.
  17. BaccaBossMC macrumors regular


    Jul 8, 2016
    Nursing Home of the U.S.
    No! Absolutely no ARM in a Macbook. I'm switching to a Hackintoshed Razer Blade if that happens, ARM just can't run any kind of power-heavy desktop application, and Solidworks requires a Windows environment, which I run in a VM so I only have to deal with Windows part of the time. I'm fine if its a Coprocessor, but the main has to be either x86 or, in the future, Quantum. If Apple switches to ARM, they are going to lose a large portion of their user base for the Macbook: professionals.
  18. djcerla macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2015
    They will probably start with an hybrid Mac/iOS device powered by a very fast A chip, and move up from there.

    It would run initially the full iPad software catalog (so no WinRT) and as more and more developers optimize for the Mac-X, the need for Intel will reduce and Apple could be able to cut them out in 6-7 years.
  19. sziehr macrumors 6502a

    Jun 11, 2009
    I have said this for years and every one goes no no intel this intel that processor change this processor that. I go look apple is going to start the process of having the entire OS written in a higher level language or a modern level C so that they can combine it and all the built in libraries over to ARM. Then it is a simple re-compile for most not all applications to join the ARM OS X train. This is where apple is going. There is no reason to update the Dock or Finder ETC with a total re-write to a new language otherwise. They are moving the ball slowly and in clear view to ARM. The first mechanical cooled ARM chip is now in the ATV. They are getting ready to see how far they can push the Atv it is a low risk product with low sales currently. They can latter on push it hard and if they fail they have good understanding of thermal loads in the wild. They are going to make a MacBook A series chip. This is going to happen when is the only question I have left. They have several sub-systems left to migrate on the UI side of the house. They also need to start to get developers into the idea that the apps need to be universal again. This push will come with a new heavy push for the App Store. This why the universal binaries are handled on the back end away from the user. The arm user will not know they are using arm unless they look at the specs. This is where they want to go. So you can write it one time and have it run multi thread monster on the Mac Pro or multi thread mini on the ARM in the MacBook scales perfectly and is universal. This is where apple has pointed the ship. Intel has nothing on the road map at the sub 15 watt chip size that punches. I know now I will get the people who go but arm is not intel the benchmarks don't compare etc etc. This is going to happen. So strap in for the next decade cause it will be ARM and it will be universal binaries and it will all feel like a throw back to the early 2k.
  20. earthTOmitchel Contributing Editor


    Staff Member

    Mar 6, 2015
    Thanks:) just fixed.
  21. thomasthegps macrumors regular

    Sep 23, 2015
    that sounds like blatant speculation. Apple is probably not going to make a ARM macbook unless they are sure their chip is powerful enough. I wouldn't worry about people leaving apple because they use ARM chips.
  22. zorinlynx macrumors 601


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    Arrghh, No! Not ANOTHER freaking architecture change.

    Not to mention, ARM processors don't even come close to the performance of Intel. I would really hate it for Apple to gimp the performance of the Mac just to not depend on Intel anymore.

    How about going dual supplier? Maybe go AMD for desktops (iMacs) and Intel for notebooks. You can keep the same architecture and performance and not be tied to one company.

    It would be extremely frustrating if Apple went ARM for Macs. It would be a huge negative for the platform.
  23. Scottsoapbox macrumors 6502


    Oct 10, 2014
    Apple keeps claiming the A series is as powerful as Intel's chips yet the switch hasn't come.

    To bad notebooks can't run on marketing hype.
  24. Hater macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2017
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    The iPad catalogue? Why? Another device that is practically useless for doing anything productive on?
  25. g.a.papavasileiou macrumors newbie


    Sep 29, 2017
    Could there be any chance that Apple may use in future products BOTH Intel AND A chips?

    I mean technically, could an A11 chip and an i5 share somehow the workload and coexist?

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