Rumor: Is Apple going to dump Intel for its laptop processors?

Several years ago, Apple made the decision to change over from IBM's PowerPC processors to Intel's family of chips. Now comes word via unnamed sources that Apple may be making changes in its processor again at least for its laptops. SemiAccurate reports that the company is going to be moving its laptop products from Intel's chips to one based on ARM's designs. The article claims, "It won’t be really soon, but we are told it is a done deal."

The story claims that the move to the new processors won't happen until sometime in 2013 which the article says the first fully 64-bit ARM processors should be in place. However another web site, MacRumors.com, is already putting out some doubts on if this will really happen. In its own coverage of the SemiAccurate rumors it writes, "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." A new move to ARM processors for Apple's laptops would have to allow for some emulation of previously created software for the Mac OS, according to the story.

ARM has certainly generate a lot of news in recent months. Nvidia announced during the Consumer Electronics Show a few months ago that it would launch its first CPU using the ARM architecture. Microsoft also announced at that time that the next version of its Windows OS (Windows 8) will also run on ARM-based processors along with onces made by Intel and AMD.

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This rumour definitely helped to bump up ARM's share price. It's good to see a business out of UK's Silicone Valley doing well.

vanx said,
This rumour definitely helped to bump up ARM's share price. It's good to see a business out of UK's Silicone Valley doing well.

*Cambridge

Brian Miller said,
I just hope it can still run Windows.

With Microsoft adding support for ARM processors in Windows 8, then yes, it will be able to run windows.

simrat said,

With Microsoft adding support for ARM processors in Windows 8, then yes, it will be able to run windows.

The only version it would run would be Windows 8.

People wanting to run XP and such would be screwed. And considering Apples support of Windows 7 in Bootcamp is dire, it doesn't look good, heck, they still show XP and Vista when they brag how it runs Windows on Apple.com

Benjy91 said,

The only version it would run would be Windows 8.

People wanting to run XP and such would be screwed. And considering Apples support of Windows 7 in Bootcamp is dire, it doesn't look good, heck, they still show XP and Vista when they brag how it runs Windows on Apple.com

You don't buy a new computer to run XP, FFS!

The Stark said,

You don't buy a new computer to run XP, FFS!

You're right, you don't buy a new computer to run any OS, you buy a computer do do you work. And if the needs of your work dictares you run XP, then you run XP.

Brian Miller said,

You're right, you don't buy a new computer to run any OS, you buy a computer do do you work. And if the needs of your work dictares you run XP, then you run XP.

By 2013 you'll be able to run XP in a virtual machine faster than any machine on the market could run it natively when it came out.

Stetson said,

By 2013 you'll be able to run XP in a virtual machine faster than any machine on the market could run it natively when it came out.

That's probably true. LOL

Stetson said,

By 2013 you'll be able to run XP in a virtual machine faster than any machine on the market could run it natively when it came out.

Why would you though? That's like people using Windows 98 in a VM today.

kizzaaa said,

Why would you though? That's like people using Windows 98 in a VM today.

Remember, just because you don't know the answer to your question, doesn't mean it's incorrect to run old software. There are plenty of good reasons people do not upgrade.

Let's not take some wild speculation from semi-accurate.com and give it too much credit, I'm sure more ARM is in all of our futures, but I'd say it's a little soon to call Intel dead in this space. That said, I'd be interested in a quad core ARM with SSD, that would be one amazing MacBook Air upgrade with (I can't guess how much) battery life to spare.

error404ts said,
Any chance that switching processors will help with intel processors overheating in MBP??

Yes, if this was really happening, changing to a lower power CPU might fix it. But since it's not...

rajputwarrior said,
eff that, intel cpus are the reason gaming has come a long way on OSX, doing this will completely kill that...

I can see Apple doing it if it means significant battery life gains. Imagine thin and light laptops with 10+ hours of battery life.

Right now both the Macbook Air and the iPad 2 both have dual core processors. I don't know how they compare directly but they aren't that far apart in performance I would guess. The iPad 2 gets 10 hours of battery life and the MBA gets 5.

Stetson said,

I can see Apple doing it if it means significant battery life gains. Imagine thin and light laptops with 10+ hours of battery life.

Right now both the Macbook Air and the iPad 2 both have dual core processors. I don't know how they compare directly but they aren't that far apart in performance I would guess. The iPad 2 gets 10 hours of battery life and the MBA gets 5.

The batteries always die, is far better to be plugged, whether we like it or not. we should be migrating to powerpc arquitecture... that's really an improved architecture, just look at cell broadband or at another derivatives of it. ARM indeed it's for low consumption... but I wonder if for high performance.

Do you know what this would mean once again? New software and new parts. A company shouldn't be changing it's complete architecture in what 6 years? If they are then they are completely stupid and don't take their users seriously. Maybe Apple's smartest decision would be to not be a hardware company and remove the restraints on OS X and let people decide between OS X and Windows and Linux.

gnuman said,
Do you know what this would mean once again? New software and new parts. A company shouldn't be changing it's complete architecture in what 6 years? If they are then they are completely stupid and don't take their users seriously. Maybe Apple's smartest decision would be to not be a hardware company and remove the restraints on OS X and let people decide between OS X and Windows and Linux.

Yeah, except that all of Apple's money comes from hardware. They don't make Macs to sell OSX, they make OSX to sell macs.

If this is true then this might force Intel to open up the number of companies to license x86 again. Surely if after MS is going to compile Windows 8 on ARM and if the Apple thing pans out then it will be crazy competitive market again. The only thing I'm worried about is how these changes in tech lately are moving toward computers that you cannot change parts out like regular PCs. If the manufactures take over DYI PC building and make everything into a consumer unit ... that would just plain suck. I like upgrading rather than buying an entire new system.

doesn't this just mean that they will put iOS onto laptops.. since the iPad and iPhone already have ARM chips it shouldn't be such a big stretch..

Chris L Combe said,
doesn't this just mean that they will put iOS onto laptops.. since the iPad and iPhone already have ARM chips it shouldn't be such a big stretch..

iOS is pretty much just OSX with a different Cocoa implementation designed for touch screens. I would be surprised if Apple didn't have full desktop versions of OSX compiled and running on ARM chips already, even if they don't even plan to think about moving over for several years yet.

Software, especially OS, is not fungible: you need to train users, migrate licenses or buy new ones, make yourself like different things, study to get new certifications etc...

Hardware is fungible: you can use an Intel or AMD cpu, a Seagate or whatever disk (or SSD), an OCZ or whatever memory, VIA or Nvidia etc and most users would not even care... and most of your software dealing with users, excluding drivers (that users would not touch most of the times), would equally not care.

...BUT...

Intel is dominating the dominating CPU market, they are an huge semiconductor productor, and have a good maket share in SSD (The Next Big Thing), they are preparing to invade ultramobility market: they can effectively dictate the agenda of what is in the core of your current and next Windows PC, or Mac, or most of Linux based boxes.

AMD failed big time to provide a viable alternative to Intel's r&d: they are the alternative low cost solution, ages when they were leaders on research and were able to provide a more convincing solution with Athlon against P4 are lost and gone. And AMD consistently failed at this in the last 5 years, with an increasingly negative trend.

So, the OS world desperately needs a new alternative to Intel, all dominant OS like Windows, Linux and OSX offers systems largely based on HAL from at least a decade so a non x86 CPU is good enough to pose a treat to Intel: never get us struck on a P4-like nightmare or we will have a "new AMD" to force you to update your agenda and roll out decent products when WE need it, not when it is more lucrative for you.

If people want newer architectures for General computing use, maybe Intel will modify it's Itanium series of processors and release a Desktop one...
Itanium performs well, just has software compatibility issues.

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