updated 03:20 pm EDT, Wed May 18, 2011
Intel exec says Apple directly influences chips
Intel Senior VP Tom Kilroy commented on Wednesday that Apple was both directly and indirectly influencing the Intel chip roadmap. The two collaborated often, and Apple's consideration "helps shape our roadmap [at Intel]," he said at a Reuters summit. Even when not directly contributing, the company was often driving Intel forward through the success of devices like the iPad, which use the architecture of Intel's rival ARM.
"They push us hard," he summarized.
He didn't say whether there was any merit to questionable rumors of Apple using ARM in Macs, suggesting that it was at Apple's discretion to discuss long-term plans. He noted that the performance gap was currently too massive to use ARM in a performance design, noting that ARM "doesn't even come close" right now. Speed may not come close until ARM Cortex-A15 chip designs start arriving in late 2012.
Intel during is own investor's meeting this week indirectly acknowledged the iPad's pressure on its strategy when it promised an accelerated effort on low-power chips. So far, its strategy has been focused on traditional notebook processors with much slower development of its Atom processors. Without active development, ARM has leapt ahead with much better battery life and frequently performance for the same money or less. A Windows tablet using an Atom often has just half the battery life of an iPad even with a thicker, bulkier design.
Apple's direct involvement has become increasingly clear in recent years. The company is known to use early or otherwise out-of-spec processors such as the first 3GHz quad-core Xeon and the Sandy Bridge-based 2GHz quad Core i7 in the current MacBook Pros. Thunderbolt was co-designed by Apple and gave the company an early lead on adoption.