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Apple to Move from Intel to ARM Processors in Future Laptops?


SemiAccurate claims to have heard that Apple will be transitioning from Intel processors to ARM processors in the not too distant future.

The short story is that Apple is moving the laptop line, and presumably desktops too, to ARM based chips as soon as possible.

The site seems to believe that the transition will take place after ARM has moved to full 64-bit cores which won't likely be until at least mid-2013.

At that point, Apple can move to ARM without worrying about obsoleting code with an [instruction set architecture] that is on the verge of changing, and no memory overhead worries either. Basically, it looks like the perfect time. Ironically, SemiAccurates moles tell us that the boys on infinite loop are planning to move laptops to ARM at about that time. Coincidence? Nope.

Apple has made a heavy investment in the ARM architecture which presently powers their iOS line of products. Apple even made the bold move to take ARM processor design in house with the acquisition P.A. Semi and Intrinsity.

Still, a transition of their Mac line over to a different processor architecture is hard to accept. While Apple did previously succeed in such a transition in the past with the PowerPC to Intel transition, it was not without an incredible amount of engineering to ease the process. Existing Mac applications would be unable to run on the new ARM processors without some sort of emulation layer. Mac applications would have to be recompiled to support the ARM processors.

While ARM is known for their low power processors, last year they announced plans to move into high-performance computing in the future, and has been rumored to moving into the 64-bit space as well.

Codenamed "Eagle," the A15 architecture is ostensibly aimed at netbooks and tablets, but a look at the spec sheet leaves no doubt that ARM is absolutely gunning for the server market that Intel and AMD currently dominate.

SemiAccurate has not been a frequent source of Apple-related rumors, but they do point out they were correct in predicting that Apple would move away from NVIDIA GPUs in their computers.

Related roundup: MacBook Air

Top Rated Comments

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46 months ago
Moving away from Intel in their notebooks and desktops would be a HUGE mistake in my opinion. Intel is the big dog and they have the resources to keep innovating. I guess if they plan on making everything iOS then it makes a little more sense, but for true blue OSX machines Intel has the muscle.
Rating: 20 Votes
46 months ago
This is the most ridiculous thing to appear on the MacRumors front page in quite some time.
Rating: 15 Votes
46 months ago

I can't think of a worse idea!


Apple licensing Mac OS X to Dell.
Rating: 12 Votes
46 months ago
And let's not forget one thing: Apple moved from 680x0 to PPC and PPC to Intel because each time, the new CPU series offered a major improvement from the previous one. Today, Intel is the biggest innovator across the board in high-end CPUs - for desktop, server and laptops. There is no one on the horizon who can meet or beat Intel.
Rating: 11 Votes
46 months ago
This is a non-story, folks. Charlie is well-known as a professional troll who is regularly full of crap.
Rating: 9 Votes
46 months ago
Might I direct some of you naysayers to an archived thread: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=128198

When the Intel switch was a rumor, everyone was calling shenanigans..

I'm not saying this rumor is true, but I am saying "never say never". They are Apple, they will make it work no matter what processor they go with. :)
Rating: 9 Votes
46 months ago
Even if ARM DID get ahead, it wouldn't take Intel long to catch up... Then what?
Rating: 8 Votes
46 months ago
No way. Intel is fantastic, their CPUs are nearly unmatched, and while Intel itself can be finicky sometimes, it's not worth the headache of transitioning again. Not unless ARM has some amazing crap up it's sleeve that will de-rail all of Intel's market share. This rumor makes sense on some low end laptops, maybe, but the entire lineup? Hell no. Plus I've gotten used to being able to run Windows in Boot Camp.

It's taken Apple over a decade to get where we are now. Why would they throw all that away? Not to mention that ARM has absolutely nothing that comes even slightly close to even mid-range Intel chips. And even in two years time, I'm very doubtful.
Rating: 7 Votes
46 months ago

Apple licensing Mac OS X to Dell.


I'm off to start a new 'Dell in negotiations with Apple to license Mac OS X' rumor with a popular analyst. Story should be appearing on MR on Monday or Tuesday next week. Stay tuned.
Rating: 6 Votes
46 months ago

Granted Intel has the resources to make it in a post X86 world but they haven't shown any real commitment to do so.


Intel abandoned the x86 architecture in silicon with the P6 architecture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_P6) chips in fall 1995 (marketed as the Pentium Pro chips).

Internally, P6 (and Netburst and Core) CPUs do not run the x86 (or x64) instruction sets. In a fashion somewhat like a Java VM translating bytecode, the CPUs take the x86 instruction stream and convert it to μops (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro-operation) that are implemented in the silicon.

That's key to Intel's performance leaps and the tick-tock engineering - Intel can make radical changes to the actual architecture of the CPU, yet binaries written in the x86 pseudo-code can be translated to the actual silicon and run.
Rating: 6 Votes

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