Intel to Begin Manufacturing 64-Bit ARM Chips in 2014

Intel partner Altera announced at the ARM developers' conference yesterday that the world's largest semiconductor chip maker will start manufacturing 64-bit ARM chips beginning in 2014, reports Forbes. The move brings Intel's chipmaking prowess to the most popular architecture for mobile devices and could prove to make Intel a foundry option for Apple and its custom A-series chips for its iOS devices at some point in the future.

“It’s huge. Imagine ARM’s most powerful and technologically advanced 64-bits processor built on Intel’s leading-edge fabs. A duo that will be hard to beat,” explains Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. [...]

“Intel will build Apple's, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon or the Nvidia Tegra for the right price. Now, the question is, are they ready to pay that premium and feed their direct competitor, except for Apple. But that would actually make business sense for everyone,” adds Brookwood.

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Apple notably signed a three-year deal in June with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) to produce A-series Chips for future iOS devices beginning in 2014, with the move seen as a part of Apple's strategy to move away from rival Samsung for component supplies. However, Samsung was soon after reported to have landed another deal to produce chips for Apple beginning with the A9 in 2015. According to a report in June, Samsung will also remain involved in next year's A8 chip family, with TSMC handling 60 to 70 percent of the manufacturing load and Samsung picking up the remainder.

Apple was also originally rumored in 2011 to be moving from Intel's x86 architecture to ARM processors in future laptops, with a report in November 2012 also stating that Apple was considering the switch from Intel chips. A closer look at the potential move determined that Apple's potential shift from x86 to ARM for Macs was not implausible, as Apple could theoretically push ARM's power efficient based chips to become more suitable for its line of desktops and notebooks. While purely speculative, Intel's move into ARM chips could make such transitions smoother in the future.

Top Rated Comments

musika Avatar
115 months ago
I think that this just about says it all…

Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
1600VAM Avatar
115 months ago
Holy ****, it's amazing how no one has any idea what they're talking about.

You know that Altera makes FPGAs, right? The ARM chip is there to drive the FPGA, but the FPGA is the primary product. There's a reason that Intel is fabbing for an FPGA company, and that is because they don't compete with Intel's other major customers and it doesn't cannibalize Intel's other business.

The only thing this means is that Intel is testing the waters for fabbing. The fact that there's an ARM chip there means essentially nothing. In fact, Intel already fabs ARM chips for other reasons, so this isn't really anything new.

Would Intel ever fab ARM chips for Apple? Probably. Would Intel ever sacrifice it's x86 business with Apple just so it could fab Apple's ARM chips? Never. That would be more work for less profit.

I don't even understand why anyone would want an ARM powered Mac. There's a crazy huge performance difference between the best ARM processor and an Intel Core processor. You want significantly worse performance so Apple can make even higher margins on its computers?

Also, the issue of merging iOS and OS X is misunderstood. You don't have to merge the codebase, they're already the same code. It's an issue of compilation, and not so much an issue for Apple, but an issue for all the 3rd party apps that are already compiled for x86. When moving to a less powerful architecture (Intel->ARM) you're not going to have a lot of success running all those apps in an emulator.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MentalFloss Avatar
115 months ago
In a way I hope Apple don't use Intel ARM chips, and instead continue making their own.
They don't make their own. They design SoCs, but they don't produce them. The article is not about who designs SoCs, but about who produces them.

I have a feeling that most people in the comments plus the Macrumors team don't really understand what this is about. This is a fairly unexciting bit of news. Intel takes over the production of chips for another company. In this case, they happen to be ARM chips. Nothing special. Nothing new. Intel has produced ARM chips before. Still does, actually.

It only becomes "big" due to the baseless speculation of clueless analyst "Nathan Brookwood" which makes up two hyperbolic paragraphs of the Forbes article. MacRumors then copies exactly these two paragraphs as a basis for their own article and then adds some even more unfounded babbling about Apple, about moving Macs to ARM, etc.

Quite bizarre, actually. Intel takes over a minor order of chips for Altera, and after only two mutations in the hands of people who don't understand what it means, it looks like a tectonic shift in the whole processor landscape. I'd suggest for people to settle down and ignore that this article ever existed, as there is not a single hard fact contained in it.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Michael Goff Avatar
115 months ago
Two thoughts.

The first is - FANTASTIC, Intel will continue making great chips, and hopefully ARM will eventually be as powerful as modern x86 chipsets.

The second was - NOOOO. Intel have dominated the desktop, mobile and server markets for way too long, and there's so little competition. I really wish AMD had got on the band wagon and done this in a bigger way than they did in 2012.

In a way I hope Apple don't use Intel ARM chips, and instead continue making their own. Apple have the potential to take on a massive amount of business if they start selling their chipsets to other mobile manufacturers.

Intel isn't designing ARM chips, they're getting orders to start making them. There's a huge difference.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Redbeard25 Avatar
115 months ago
This means...

this is huge!

We haven't seen thin MacBooks yet. Just wait a couple years.
iOS and OS X merge codebase in 2015. I'm calling it. Announcement at WWDC 2014. It's why the iWork apps are all getting lined up and why the 5S has a 64-bit proc.

"We decided not to introduce iOS 8 and OS X.10. We're introducing AppleOS 1."
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
osx11 Avatar
115 months ago
Does this mean that the Apple platform, as a gaming machine (the only reason I still have a PC) moves even further backwards? Assuming here that most blockbuster game developers have been using Intel processors for years?
Does it matter? If you're already using a PC for gaming nothing will change for you.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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