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-   -   Apple considering transition away from Intel CPUs for Mac? (http://forums.macnn.com/113/tech-news/493210/apple-considering-transition-away-intel-cpus/)

 
NewsPoster Oct 3, 2012 12:02 PM
Apple considering transition away from Intel CPUs for Mac?
Apple may be considering a long-term transition away from Intel chips for its Mac computers, according to a new report. Citing unnamed insiders, authors of a <em>Bloomberg</em> <A href="http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-03/mapping-a-path-out-of-steve-jobs-shadow#p3">outlook</a> for Apple's future under CEO Tim Cook suggest the company's leadership has "deliberated" over the move, which would help differentiate its computers from the competing Windows/Intel platform.<br><br>Older Macs built in the mid-1990s until 2006 were equipped with PowerPC chips, built by IBM and designed through direct collaboration with Apple engineers. The company eventually took a different tack, embracing Intel processors and phasing out PowerPC support.

Speculation surrounding yet another strategy shift has continued to smolder. A 2010 rumor suggested Apple was in <A href="http://www.electronista.com/articles/10/04/16/apple.may.get.around.intel.limits.with.amd.deal/">discussions to use AMD chips</a> as an alternative to Intel components, however the alleged talks have yet to come to fruition.

Apple has embraced in-house design for its mobile platforms, culminating in the dual-core "Apple A6" SoC that powers the iPhone 5. Benchmark tests suggest the handset <a href="http://macnn.com/rd/269670==http://www.electronista.com/articles/12/09/17/dual.core.a6.beats.quad.core.galaxy.s.iii.nexus.7. tablet.in.tests/" rel='nofollow'>outperforms its Android competition</a>, including Samsung's quad-core Galaxy S III.
 
aroxnicadi Oct 3, 2012 12:21 PM
I had always thought Apple was going to use RISC chips before they went to Intel.
 
johnnydfred Oct 3, 2012 12:24 PM
G5's were RISC chips. And, please, apple. Not again.
 
iphonerulez Oct 3, 2012 12:35 PM
I sure hope Apple knows what it's doing. I think that Apple may just decide to design its own ARM processors for the desktop, but I won't be happy having to buy all new programs or maybe losing programs if developers having no interest in supporting some Apple-designed processor. To me, it seems like Apple is trying to reinvent the wheel and I don't quite understand that. It's not as though Intel has been giving Apple the short shrift with processors. So unless Apple thinks they can build processors a lot cheaper themselves, then maybe I can understand to some degree. I'm wondering how much money Apple wants to accumulate that it has to keep cutting corners to save money. I'd definitely like to hear Apple's reasons as a shareholder. I don't care if I don't have the fastest processor on the planet, but I hope Apple can design processors that at least run 95% of the speed of Intel processors.
 
hayesk Oct 3, 2012 12:40 PM
Rumors, people! Remember.

Having gone through two transitions (68K->PPC->Intel), I gotta say, nobody does it better than Apple. For the most part, it didn't really cost me anything. I upgrade software I use regularly anyway, so the architecture upgrades come along with it.
 
pairof9s Oct 3, 2012 12:43 PM
I agree w/ johnnydfred and iphonerulez...this would not be a good move. I would think that Apple learned its lesson w/ PowerPC and the frustration of slow development, inadequate supply and developer apathy. Plus when it comes to computers, now a smaller segment of Apple's total earnings, changing processors would do little but further limit sales of Macs.
 
exca1ibur Oct 3, 2012 01:16 PM
VERY bad move, if true.
 
demani Oct 3, 2012 01:26 PM
Or MORE likely- they have a skunkworks project (or actually, probably two): one to keep testing the viability of ARM CPUs, and one using AMD APUs. Both would be effectively a hedge against issues with Intel supply (or with intel as a supplier is funding the competition in an effort to compete with Apple). Why not keep builds up to date just in case, like they did with x86/intel when the PPC was not progressing as planned? In fact, Apple would be risking an awful lot by not doing that. ARM could be useful in some machines one day, while AMD does make sense in some lower end usages (i.e. a Mac mini running an A8/A10 would be a solid little machine). It can't hurt to keep options option.
 
chas_m Oct 3, 2012 01:33 PM
Glad to see most readers treating this (correctly) as a rumour only. Even if it was completely true, the company is only (according this report) "deliberating" a possible switch.

There are three big factors (among many others) that make me think this is very unlikely in the foreseeable future:

1. Intel has been doing an excellent job of improving its chips, is an enthusiastic partner with Apple, and has generally helped the company provide good value for money. The occasional chip slippage is annoying when it happens (hi there Ivy Bridge), but it could happen to any other supplier.

2. The Intel chips are a SELLING POINT to those contemplating switching. The fact that you can run Windows on your Mac -- even EXCLUSIVELY if you wanted to -- overcomes most objections to switching that aren't price-based. Any move that would endanger Apple's compatibility with traditional Windows would be a disastrous move.

3. While Apple has invested heavily in its own chip-making, at least for now the chips are still ARM-based. Ten years from now, when Windows RT is the standard, you could move to an ARM-based chip and keep the Windows compatibility (see above), so long-term it's something you could look at. But anytime soon? Not likely.
 
Mr. Strat Oct 3, 2012 01:42 PM
If they want to design their own in the vein of the A5/A6 chips, I guess that's OK. But they'd have to accept losing sales related to Windows incompatibility (not with me). But the day they put an AMD chip in a Mac is the day I'll stop buying their products.
 
Athens Oct 3, 2012 02:37 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Mr. Strat (Post 4194447)
If they want to design their own in the vein of the A5/A6 chips, I guess that's OK. But they'd have to accept losing sales related to Windows incompatibility (not with me). But the day they put an AMD chip in a Mac is the day I'll stop buying their products.
Why would you stop buying Mac's if they had AMD chips in them. For a 5 years AMD was kicking Intels ass with the XP line compared to the P4.

Anyways, Apple wouldn't make a move like that for saving money. Apple isn't about saving money per say. They have no problem spending more money where it counts. Any such move (rumored) would be for performance only reasons. Get as much speed possible using as little energy as possible. If they can get more real speed and performance out of a smaller lower energy chip that also produces less heat it would allow them to shrink the package even more.

While there is nothing wrong with Intel and its chips, they do have to maintain backwards compatibility with all of x86 instruction sets. This has been a weak point of the platform for a long time. So much more could be done with a complete and total redesign and modernization but Intel isn't risking it because they don't control the entire package. Intel would have to hope Microsoft would retool Windows for such a platform change.

Apple is in a different position because they control the software. If Apple wanted to rework a CPU dumping useless legacy components and moving forward with it they can because they also control the OS.

So this is meh to me. Would suck to lose the ability to run Windows natively with bootcamp. But over the years almost every one I set up with bootcamp to use windows, people converting from Windows to Mac never ended up using it. Most even asked me to remove it after some time.

I dont think it would hurt Apple much at all.
 
blahblahbber Oct 3, 2012 03:55 PM
Let me put this into perspective. A more proprietary CPU (along with everything else) will be crApple's outlook. Total control means total domination. Chips to authenticate, chips to identify, chips to report, and all based in-house for exclusive data mining. Need your information stolen? "We got an app for that." How about your information sold? "We got an app for that." Growth has created a once sic dog into a new crApplesoft 2.0 (World War 3 edition). And with all the iPhones in circulation, that Carrier IQ stuff is no joke. People in general do not question what crApple does because they are too occupied with all the stupid fake hyperbole crApple stuff; again, support Linux, know what you are getting, support a healthy OPEN ecosystem... mobile chips will replace desktops in the not too distant future. Can't wait to see iOSX become a reality, and all those that made an investment will be forced to buy all of crApple's garbage all over again. LINUX will be a the platform of choice for the public by then. And I am not singling crApple out either...
 
Mr. Strat Oct 3, 2012 03:55 PM
Having been in IT for decades, it's been proven to me time and time again that AMD is crap.
 
blahblahbber Oct 3, 2012 03:58 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Mr. Strat (Post 4194447)
If they want to design their own in the vein of the A5/A6 chips, I guess that's OK. But they'd have to accept losing sales related to Windows incompatibility (not with me). But the day they put an AMD chip in a Mac is the day I'll stop buying their products.
Seriously... did you just rag on AMD?? You must be biased, narrow minded, and uninformed.... and for the public to notice. AMD has made strides in technology since NexGen. Intel would not be able to play in the 64-bit arena without AMD "Mr. Decades IT" guy.
 
blahblahbber Oct 3, 2012 04:21 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by johnnydfred (Post 4194413)
G5's were RISC chips. And, please, apple. Not again.
Gotta keep up with the Joneses.... welcome to capitalism at its finest.
 
Zanziboy Oct 3, 2012 09:12 PM
I seriously doubt Apple wants to throw away the money to compete in the desktop processor market. With their current Thunderbolt technology strategy, it doesn't make sense. However, this kind of rhetoric is good for keeping the pressure on Intel to update their Xeon processor line so we can get an updated MacPro with Thunderbolt. It's amazing Intel has kept well in front of AMD given Intel's updates have been consistently 1 to 2 years behind schedule. Where's the new Xeon with Thunderbolt?
 
Waragainstsleep Oct 4, 2012 12:18 AM
The biggest problem with Intel is their prices. If Apple can use their own CPUs in every device they make, it will save a fortune but there is little point unless they can equal or exceed performance of Intel chips unless Apple is finally looking to reduce Mac prices.

In the even longer term, I can see Windows desktop share falling to iOS and if it shifts far enough then it might become advantageous for Apple to enable apps to run cross platform between Mac and iOS instead of virtualising Windows.
 
simdude Oct 4, 2012 03:59 AM
I think it's only reasonable that companies ALWAYS deliberate about options. I'm sure internally, Microsoft discusses running desktop windows on other chips. You have to discuss this stuff. What if someone came out with a chip that was 10x faster than the best Intel/AMD chips? You can't ignore that. There's obviously a huge cost in transitioning and that's part of the equation.

The bigger question with Apple is would they transition away from an Intel instruction set? You could stick an AMD chip in there and still run Windows or Windows virtual machine software fine.

So if these are internal discussions, why is any of this information known to us? Seems the most obvious answer is Apple "leaked" the story because they wanted Intel to hear it. If a company knows they may no longer be a sole supplier, they don't have as much leverage with regard to price. Intel? Your move.
 
Grendelmon Oct 4, 2012 05:12 AM
Ughh, calm down everyone. My understanding is that Apple had considered jumping from Intel to AMD. Do any of you know what that means? They're still x86 chips... it's just from a different manufacturer. This is *nothing* like switching from PowerPC to Intel.

There's no way in hell they'd switch to ARM for their desktops, either. Wonderful speculation there, MacNN. Nice way to confuse your readers (FUD?).

In any case, AMD better step up their game and make Steamroller/Excavator worth a damn, compared to the disappointing Bulldozer debacle.
 
Lifeisabeach Oct 4, 2012 05:56 AM
As has been said, moving away from Intel CPUs doesn't mean moving away from x86 CPUs (i.e. Intel-compatible). AMD seems the obvious choice, but what if Apple decides to roll their own x86-compatible CPUs? They obviously are doing very well with CPU design in the iDevices, so why not leverage that experience and the talent they have into making x86 chips for the Mac line also?
 
blahblahbber Oct 4, 2012 11:04 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by Lifeisabeach (Post 4194587)
As has been said, moving away from Intel CPUs doesn't mean moving away from x86 CPUs (i.e. Intel-compatible). AMD seems the obvious choice, but what if Apple decides to roll their own x86-compatible CPUs? They obviously are doing very well with CPU design in the iDevices, so why not leverage that experience and the talent they have into making x86 chips for the Mac line also?
That is a what I think, I believe they will to acquire licensed technology and use the cpu design investments made in Israel to conclude a compatible yet "locked ecosystem" as they transition to final, proprietary technology. This company is on the road to full on lock down.... ship..... with all that money, you bet that is what to expect.
 
Lifeisabeach Oct 5, 2012 08:23 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by blahblahbber (Post 4194677)
That is a what I think, I believe they will to acquire licensed technology and use the cpu design investments made in Israel to conclude a compatible yet "locked ecosystem" as they transition to final, proprietary technology. This company is on the road to full on lock down.... ship..... with all that money, you bet that is what to expect.
I'll take that bet. Apple isn't stupid or blind, even if it seems that way at times. If they blocked 3rd party apps from outside the App Store and people can't use their desktops in the ways we are already accustomed to, you'll see people fleeing like you've never seen. They already have a problem with developers leaving the App Store because they can't make their software work under the rules. They also aren't going to block installs of Windows. FFS... they include software to install it! That is far too much a selling point for potential switchers. They may lock it in the sense that it can't be Hackintoshed, and that's fine. I have read rumors where they were working on ARM/x86 hybrid systems, which may prove interesting if that comes true. It's more likely that Apple wants to push the designs of CPUs for energy efficiency, size, and power beyond what Intel is doing. It's also very possible that this is all baseless rumors.
 
blahblahbber Oct 6, 2012 04:30 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Lifeisabeach (Post 4194813)
ARM/x86 hybrid systems....
There you go, glad you agree with me on that.... One thing is, once they lose support on the tightened hardware side... they will open that up (since devs and users with be pissed) to gain more in the app ecosystem, as it will be ready for "primetime" at that point for total domination, as they see it..... Look at Linux, it's on it way to becoming something that a newbie can pick up nowadays. Linux will be the new competitor and the preferred choice.... So far, open-source server technologies are preferred to get your in-house services online; just look at the job posting in company website around the globe. Change is happening, and change is coming.
 
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