Apple's Potential Shift from Intel to ARM for Macs Not Implausible, But Faces Hurdles

Following up on yesterday's report from Bloomberg that has rekindled discussion of Apple potentially making a switch from Intel's processors to custom ARM-based chips for its Mac lines, AllThingsD takes a closer look at the landscape to analyze the benefits and challenges of such a move.


The report contrasts Intel's focus on performance with ARM's focus on power efficiency and notes that there is no inherent reason why Apple couldn't push ARM technology more toward the performance end of the spectrum to make the chips more suitable for desktops and notebooks.

If a company decided it wanted to design an ARM chip that was, as [analyst Nathan] Brookwood put it, “hell-bent on performance,” it could be done. “You could get a pretty fast machine,” he says.

Trouble is, it would have to be not only be fast, but have a really excellent roadmap lasting well into the future that not only met but exceeded that of Intel. That’s a tall, tall order.

The report points to ARM's just-announced 64-bit processor designs as being key to any move into the Mac, and notes that Russian company Elbrus Technologies has developed a Rosetta-like emulation technology that could allow ARM chips to run software written for Intel processors.

On the flip side, Intel has a long track record of being at the forefront of processor performance and a strong history with Apple since the company's Mac lines transitioned from PowerPC chips seven years ago. As a result, any decision to switch from Intel to ARM obviously can not be made lightly, and Apple is clearly taking an extended timeframe to examine the possibility. But with Bob Mansfield now heading up a division of Apple dedicated new technologies in wireless and semiconductors, it seems that there may be a renewed focus on pushing the boundaries of the ARM platform even further.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
101 months ago
Apple is just playing it smart. I'd be surprised if Apple WASN'T considering other options. They'd be fools to just blindly use Intel without any backup plans.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago
whatever

Biggest hurdle will be, that nobody will buy those products.

p.s. If they already have a roadmap for the switch, I hope they used "Google maps" at least.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago
"The new ARM-based Mac Pro. For the pro in all of us"...
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago

I would believe:
Intel -> Apple custom silicon

A lot more than:
Intel -> ARM

But I'm sure Apple have both options up and running in their lab.

Apple's custom silicon is based on ARM design (A5). Even the A6 so doesn't mean they can't build on ARM's offerings.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago
Wow, now we have something to digest and debate well into 2014...
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago

What? Did they have a fight with intel now? lol just kidding. But seriously why run the hurdle race when intel has a good product?

[url=http://www.picgifs.com/sport-graphics/sport-graphics/hurdle-race/sport-graphics-hurdle-race-029260.gif]Image (http://www.picgifs.com/sport-graphics/)[/url]


Cause if there is a hurdle in the future they won't have the years to design a solution. They'll have to already spent the years making the solution. Ie better to have a solution you never have to use then get caught with your pants down and no immediate solution.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Takes Legal Action Against Small Company With Pear Logo

Saturday August 8, 2020 11:09 am PDT by
Apple is taking legal action against the developers of the app "Prepear" due to its logo, according to iPhone in Canada. Prepear is an app that helps users discover recipes, plan meals, make lists, and arrange grocery deliveries. The app is a spinoff of "Super Healthy Kids," and the founders claim that they are facing litigation from Apple. Apple reportedly takes issue with Prepear's logo, ...

Kuo: Global iPhone Shipments Could Decline Up to 30% If Apple Forced to Remove WeChat From App Store [Updated x2]

Sunday August 9, 2020 10:17 pm PDT by
In a worst-case scenario, Apple's annual global iPhone shipments could decline by 25–30% if it is forced to remove WeChat from its App Stores around the world, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo viewed by MacRumors. The removal could occur due to a recent executive order aiming to ban U.S. transactions with WeChat and its parent company Tencent. Kuo lays out...

Google Maps Debuts New Apple Watch App and CarPlay Features

Monday August 10, 2020 9:16 am PDT by
Google today announced the launch of several features for Google Maps on Apple products, including new CarPlay functionality and a new Google Maps app that works on Apple Watch. The new Google Maps app for Apple Watch works similarly to the iOS app, allowing Apple Watch owners to get directions for a car, bike, public transit, or on foot. The app supports estimated arrival times and...

2020 iMac Teardown Reveals Internal Changes and Similarities

Saturday August 8, 2020 12:44 pm PDT by
A teardown video, shared by OWC, reveals the internal changes in the new 2020 27-inch iMac. The 2020 27-inch iMac was announced earlier this week with 10th-generation Intel Core processors, AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, up to 8TB of storage, a 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, higher fidelity speakers, and...

Apple Seeds iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Public Beta 4 to Testers

Thursday August 6, 2020 10:05 am PDT by
Apple today seeded new public betas of upcoming iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates to its public beta testing group. Today's software releases, which Apple labels as fourth betas to keep them in line with developer betas, are actually the third betas that Apple has provided and they come two weeks after the prior beta releases. Public beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing...

Apple Believes This German Cycling Path Logo Infringes on Its Own Logo

Wednesday May 1, 2019 9:51 am PDT by
Apple recently objected to the logo of a new German cycling path in an appeal filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office, according to German outlets General-Anzeiger Bonn and Westdeutscher Rundfunk. Apple reportedly takes issue with the logo's green leaf and supposed "bitten" right side, attributes the company believes are too similar to its own logo. The logo, registered with the ...

Supposed iPhone 12 Display Unit Leaks

Thursday August 6, 2020 8:13 am PDT by
An image supposedly of an iPhone 12 display unit has been shared online by leaker "Twitter user Mr. White". Compared to images of an iPhone 11 Pro display piece, this new unit has a reoriented display connector, reaching up from the bottom of the display, rather than from the left-hand side on iPhone 11 Pro. This may be due to the logic board moving to the other side of the device. A...

Foxconn Reportedly Begins Seasonal Hiring Spree for iPhone 12 Production

Monday August 10, 2020 7:03 am PDT by
Apple's largest manufacturing partner Foxconn has begun its seasonal hiring spree to assist with iPhone 12 production, offering employees who recruit qualified applicants up to a 9,000 yuan bonus, according to Chinese media reports. As usual, Foxconn needs as many hands on deck as possible at its factory in Zhengzhou, China to assist with mass production of the upcoming iPhones. Apple is...

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

New 27-Inch iMac's Storage Affixed to Logic Board, 4TB and 8TB Configurations Have Expansion Connector

Friday August 7, 2020 7:46 am PDT by
Following a report from German blog iFun.de that claimed the new 27-inch iMac's flash storage is soldered to the logic board, MacRumors has obtained additional information in an internal document for Apple technicians. In the document, Apple says that the flash storage is indeed affixed to the logic board and cannot be removed. However, for the 4TB and 8TB configurations, Apple says that a...