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Apple may ditch Intel and x86 altogether in new MacBooks

by Alistair Lowe on 6 November 2012, 12:15

Tags: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

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Surprise surprise, there's talk on Bloomberg that Apple's looking to jump ship away from Intel and in fact, x86 all-together.

The fruity firm has a track record for such moves, previously basing its hardware on Motorola 68000 series chips and IBM's PowerPC architecture. Apple appears to have no affinity to any one architecture, though we wonder just how welcome another move would be so close to the jump away from PowerPC to x86, which began in 2006, running through to 2009.

A move this time would see Apple adopt ARM architecture and, progress with this IP can been seen in the company's latest iPad A6X processor, which features custom cores built around ARM tech, chugging-out impressive performance figures. Without the power-profile constraints of an ultra-portable, Apple could easily look to increase core count and implement multi-processor systems at comparative costs to Intel processors.

It's believed that such changes are still in the 'mulling' phase and that any move wouldn't take place until 2017 at the earliest, though no doubt Apple techies will be hard at work, working towards a high-power, high-performance goal from now onward.

Honestly, we would be quite interested to see ARM intellectual property pushed into direct competition with x86, we only hope that Apple doesn't cause a dividing line between the two architectures with its typically brash approach.

HEXUS Forums :: 31 Comments

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I think ARM has a long way to go before that happens and it will depend on what the rest of the market does first. The moves away from 68K and PPC were basically forced weren't they? 68K and PPC could no longer offer competitive performance / cost rather than Apple deciding to go with another architecture “because they could”?

(edit: for core ‘PC’ hardware anyway - from which the domestic market will probably move increasingly away from, towards tablets, etc which are much more open at the moment and will probably stay that way - though I have a feeling Intel will get their strategy right in that space in the next few years)
Nobody's going to argue that x86 isn't a bit long in the tooth and was probably due being thrown out at least a decade ago, but is ARM really there yet? On the one hand the move does sound crazy, but there's no doubt that people are moving towards tablets and other ARM devices instead of the humble PC/laptop so maybe it really isn't so crazy.
Given that most mac users just browse facebook before looking at their latest pictures from instagram, I think this will be great for them.

Small thinner lighter. Obviously the hundred odd pounds in CPU, Chipset, Battery, HSF cost saving will be past on to them right…. Right?

The other thing is when I first used a StrongARM RISC PC, it was demonstratably faster than the Intel PC I had at the time.
That would probably end gaming on Macs.

At least at the moment they have bootcamp, once they switch to ARM they will only have Modern-UI apps available via dualboot (if and when WinRT works on an ARM Mac)
I'd be surprised if they did move away from x86 until at least Windows is supported on ARM. I use a lot of Apple kit, but this would be a game changer for me. I need to be able to use some Windows apps for work for which there are no OSX compatibles (Visio etc), and I also like to be able to boot into Windows for a bit of gaming.

I like OSX, it gives me a lot of the functionality of Linux out of the box and a tightly integrated core set of apps on top too. Stability is pretty good, although so is Windows 7 now (I think I've only had one or two bluescreens in the 3 years I've been using it).

A move away from x86, however, would likely mean a wholesale move back to Windows for me. Despite the hyperbole I still don't like Linux on the desktop.

I now expect this thread to descend into all Mac users are 'tards etc as per usual.