updated 06:54 pm EST, Wed February 19, 2014
Hints at future wearable tech, may help provide Apple with ARM chips
During a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) session, new Intel CEO Brian Krzanich revealed that the chipmaker's relationship with Apple continued to be "very close," despite Apple using its own ARM-based chip designs in its most popular products, the iPhone and iPad. Intel continues to supply Apple with chips and graphics systems for most of its Mac line, however, and Krzanich said the two companies continue to "grow closer," suggesting potential future partnerships.
"We've always had a very close relationship with Apple and it continues to grow closer," Krzanich wrote in the online chat, in response to a question about how the relationship has changed much since Apple had begun using Intel processors. "Sure (it's) grown close over the years, especially since ... they started to use our technology in their systems," he replied. He added that Intel was always trying to create new relationships with its long-term partners.
Krzanich also mentioned a bit of advice he had gotten from former CEO Paul Otellini, the primary architect of the Intel-Apple relationship. He said that Otellini told him that "the company wins when its end customers win," a philosophy shared with Apple's focus on end-users and an increasingly rare quality in the tech world.
While Intel has repeatedly tried to get Apple to use its chipmaking prowess to help with the latter's popular iPhone and iPad line (after initially declining to design custom chips for Apple when it was approached prior to the debut of the iPhone), Intel appears to have decided that "if you can't beat them, join them" and partnered with a company called Altera to begin making ARM-based chips, even as it continues to offer its own Atom line that was intended to compete with ARM.
Apple's deteriorating relationship with Samsung, which has made most of the Apple-designed processors in iPhones and iPads since their introduction, may open up possibilities for additional business with Intel through Altera. Currently, Apple is shifting chip business to TSMC in Taiwan and reducing its dependence on Samsung, though the latter company continues to handle some of Apple's supply needs.
Krzanich was also asked if he uses any wearable technology, and replied that he currently uses two devices -- one that has been internally developed at Intel that he said he couldn't discuss details of. Intel has been working on a Quark processor, intended for wearable devices, and another potential point of partnership with Apple. Krzanich didn't say what the second wearable device he is using was, but Apple is expected to produce its own wearable health-oriented device sometime this year.