Rumour - Apple to ditch Intel for ARM

Written by Clive Webster

May 6, 2011 // 2:51 p.m.

Tags: #apple #arm #ditch #intel #ios #mac-os #mac-os-x #rumour #speculation #switch #x86

Tech gossip site SemiAccurate reports that Apple has already agreed a deal to ditch Intel CPUs from its entire range of laptops, and replace them with ARM processors.

According to the site's sources, ‘Apple is moving the laptop line, and presumably desktops too, to ARM based chips as soon as possible… Short story, x86 is history on Apple laptops, or will be in 2-3 years… it is a done deal, Intel is out and Apple chips are in.

This would be a surprising move for Apple's desktop business, though. Apple still has a market for high-performance users with its Mac Pro machines. ARM processors might be great for low-power mobile machines where battery life is a worry, but they can't currently compete with Intel's Core-branded x86 chips in terms of raw performance yet.

Similarly, while ARM chips have enough power for a mobile device such as the iPad, they currently don't offer the same level of performance as the x86 chips used in Apple's current MacBook range.

If true, this move would also mark the second change in processor architecture in just five years, following Apple's move from PowerPC to x86 in 2006. This would effectively mean reworking Mac OS for a new CPU architecture again, or even developing a whole new OS.

SemiAccurate attempts to back up its story by claiming that Apple has been ‘desperately searching for fab capacity from Samsung, GlobalFoundries and TSMC’ for ARM processors.

However, the latter news could easily be explained by the short supply of iPad 2 given the demand. Apple also might be ramping up production of a new iPhone that’s rumoured to ship in September. One other potential explanation for the rumour, of course, is that someone has their wires crossed, and Apple could be lining up an ARM-based netbook.

Is this a case of 2+2=5, or do you really think Apple is going to ditch Intel for ARM-based CPUs in the future? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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