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Apple threatened to drop Intel chips, report reveals

updated 04:10 pm EDT, Thu August 11, 2011

Pressure responsible for wave of ultrabooks

Apple recently threatened to drop Intel processors if power consumption in the latter's hardware didn't improve, Intel ultrabook director Greg Welch tells the Wall Street Journal. The information has emerged as part of an article on Intel's new $300 million Ultrabook Fund. The Apple ultimatum was made sometime before May, when Intel announced that it was planning to cut average power consumption from between 35 and 40W to just 15W. Lower draw is essential to ultrabook specifications.

Battery life is also a major concern for Apple, since the company regularly touts longevity as a feature of MacBooks. Intel, meanwhile, has in the past been accused of designing chips that are powerful, but impractical for the mobile realm due to how much more energy they use versus the likes of ARM processors. The Apple A5 chip in the iPad 2 uses an ARM-based design and leaves the tablet with approximately 10 hours of battery life on a full charge.

Nevertheless, any threat of switching away from Intel would have been a long-term prospect at best. Mac OS X is not built to support ARM technology; although iOS is founded on the Mac OS codebase, bringing ARM support back in the opposite direction would have required a major rewrite. Apple could conceivably switch to AMD processors in a much faster timeframe, but the company has shown little inclination toward using more than AMD video cards.

by MacNN Staff



  1. LunarMoon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    OS X is probably ARM based too

    As well as the old PPC OSX was also intel compatible for a long time before launch, I am sure that the current Lion is also ARM compatible right now on the version Apple has. As soon as they decide to change, the change will be fast as h***.

  1. Grendelmon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    And go where?

    AMD ? And as for an ARM based professional desktop... sorry I couldn't stop laughing.

  1. facebook_Carl

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Aug 2011


    how utterly stupid

    "bringing ARM support back in the opposite direction would have required a major rewrite"

    that is the most stupid thing I've heard in a long time (i.e. the last 2 hours). I would think a place like this would know better ...

  1. Marook

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Ohh GEEEE!

    Please read the History books MacNN!!!
    Apple had OS X cross compiled on Intel for YEARS before they announced it, just to make sure the code was not platform dependend!
    Don't you think they still do that??

  1. viktorob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    May Be..

    Apple moved everything to X code so they can change CPU any time they want.
    Also, there is a benchmark that puts apple's A5 CPU on the iPad 2 faster than intel to render a 1080i video. So if Apple can manage to beat intel rendering in HD with such a small CPU, imagine if they make it bigger and with Open CL and grand central integrated.
    I think apple is ready to end the x86 era.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If Apple does drop Intel...

    wouldn't it be more logical moving OSX to AMD (not ARM) chip?
    One of these days Apple just had it and starts their own chip making for the desktop/laptop.

  1. BigMac2

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    "bringing ARM support back in the opposite direction would have required a major rewrite"
    This is just plain false, The iOS simulator is here to prove it.

    You can compile C code that Apple use to develop iOS and OSX on any CPU as long you get the C compiler for it, with very very minor changes to the code, just look how Apple use Xcode to build cross-plateform (Universal) apps with only a check box to click, or how the iOS Simulator runs x86 iOS Apps on a Mac. Now with LLVM and Clan, Apple could push it further by having bytecode VM like java running the same apps on all plateform without ever know it. Next goal would be OpenCL and C ^Block + Grand central to let's apps using unlimited cpu and gpu resources the future will bring us.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Please no AMD

    AMD is just c***...always has been.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    arm is not powerful

    sorry even a quad-core arm is weak, processor wise.

    the headline is probably just meant to be dramatic, as always.

    Dropping intel exclusivity - might have been the threat. What reason would be there to drop Intel completely, except as a negotiating tactic, I mean Intel is by far the best chip for the Mac Pro.

    AMD has some cool chips for ultraportables.

  1. imNat-imadouche

    Joined: Dec 1969


    And then what Apple

    go back to IBM?? LOL yeah that went well. Remember the gigahertz race? how did that go for you? Oh yeah not good! :D

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