Rumor: Apple Considering Moving From Intel To ARM Processors

A new rumor is suggesting that Apple may considering switching from Intel processors to  ARM-based processor architecture in future versions of their laptop, and perhaps even desktop, computers.  The report comes from SemiAccurate (via MacRumors) who suggest that the move would take place when ARM chips possess full 64-bit cores in the next generation of processors with the site suggesting that this would take place in mid-2013. 

ARM processors have been used by Apple already in their iOS mobile device line-up to great success with the latest version, the A5, being incorporated into the iPad 2.  However, moving Macs over to ARM would be a little more tricky with Mac applications not having any native capability for running on ARM processors.  As MacRumors points out, developers would have to recompile their applications to make them compatible for ARM based systems.

Whether or not this rumor actually pans out remains to be seen.  The new Intel Sandy Bridge processors, found in the 2011 MacBook Pro and recently released iMacs, deliver impressive improvements in performance with efficiency and low power consumption. While ARM processors are noted for their low power use, it remains to be seen whether it is worth the effort for Apple to move their entire Mac line over to ARM processors.  Especially for developers.

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  • Peter Wilson

    I think its very unlikely that apple will move away from intel as intel is light years ahead of any of the processor manufactures. Intel has recently announced the development of a new processor that will surpass any available processor in the current market. Apple won’t move from intel to ARM for their desktops or notebooks. The only reason that have used them for ipad and iphone is that intel until now did not have an equivalent to offer Apple, which is about to change. If anything, I see Apple moving from ARM to intel once intel has a range of processors that make sense for Apple products.

  • Steven J Klein

    As a long-time Mac user, I’ve switched from Motorola 680×0-family chips to PowerPC chips to Intel chips. None of these transitions was seamless, but each time there was an obvious reason to do it. The PowerPC offered a tremendous jump in performance, while the switch to Intel brought Apple lower power consumption and the benefits of an industry-standard architecture.

    The question about a jump to ARM: How do they benefit? ARM chips have a reputation for being lower-power, but not for being well-suited to computationally intensive tasks.

    The only obvious benefit: The ability to customize the chips as they see fit. Unlike Intel, which makes money selling chips, ARM makes money by licensing chip designs. They don’t actually make any chips. Apple is already an ARM licensee, and their experience with the design dates back to 1990, when they co-founded ARM along with Acorn and VLSI.

    But if they make that switch, they lose the benefits of Intel’s industry standard architecture.