A recent report from Bloomberg Business Week indicates that Apple may be contemplating about dumping Intel as its major chip provider. The news, originally provided to Bloomberg from two unnamed sources, goes on to suggests that in the future, there is a chance that all Mac devices may eventually switch to Apple’s customized System-on-Chip (SoC) on an exclusive basis.
While IBM traditionally served as Apple’s main CPU supplier (with the PowerPC chips), starting from 2006, Intel had taken the helm and eventually begun providing processor chips for almost all Mac products. As listed by TechRadar, the present range of Apple computers known to be equipped with an Intel designed CPU include desktop models such as the iMac, Mac Pro, and Mac mini, along with all of the current MacBook series, from the retina display MacBook Pro and to the most recent Macbook Air. Notably, the chips utilized in the latest Apple laptops are Intel’s high performance Ivy Bridge processors.
The fact that Apple’s iPad and the iPhone 4 begun using chips other than those of Intel, in a sense, gave a somewhat early hint regarding the eventual direction Apple wants to go with its products’ CPU. Both abovementioned products utilize the A4 chip, which is based on the ARM processor architecture but had a lot of design input from Apple. The recent, highly popular iPhone 5, on the other hand, uses A6, another one of the Cupertino company’s heavily customized processors.
To reinforce the notion of Apple’s possible departure from Intel, TechRadar, TechCrunch, and CNET have pointed to various interesting factors that are worthy of noting. The first is Apple’s recent job posting ad, which claims to be looking for a manager/lead position for SoC design. Although not clearly stated, it is speculated that the job position could be connected to the Cupertino company’s A7 chip, which may potentially be applied to many future Apple products. The second factor revolves around the powerful performance demonstrated by Apple’s current A6 processor. As much as Intel has been heavily promoting its “Atom” CPU, its performance is arguably overshadowed by the capabilities inherent in the new iPhone 5’s chip. This makes for a strong, potential case for Apple to not only continue shifting its focus towards designing its own processors, but to also gradually loosen its reliance on Intel for chip supplies.
While Apple’s parting with Intel would make quite a lot of strategic sense, the move is unlikely to be immediate or easy. With the time it takes to experiment and design new SoCs, and with Intel chips still being used in many of Apple’s computers, it may be a while before Apple can completely parts ways with its current chip provider.