Apple within the next three years will start using ARM-based chips in its laptops and desktops, according to a report. The story kicked off some debate online.
chapter in what's becoming an ongoing Intel-vs.-ARM drama is speculation that
Apple will opt for ARM processors over those from Intel for its laptops.
The Website SemiAccurate
reported May 5 that,
according to unnamed sources, Apple officials have decided to use ARM chips
within the next two to three years for their laptops-and possibly desktops-and
stop using Intel's x86 processors.
the Website, Apple officials are waiting for the ARM architecture to move
beyond 32-bit, something that will come with ARM's upcoming Cortex-A15
processor design, which the company unveiled in September 2010. Processors
using that design could start hitting the market in 2012 or a little later. Nvidia's "Project Denver"
is based on ARM
designs, and will offer a processor that integrates both the CPU and graphics
capabilities on the same die. It will have a 64-bit instruction set and could
launch in late 2012 or early 2013.
SemiAccurate story said the idea of moving from Intel to ARM was a "done deal."
kicked off an online debate over the merits and drawbacks of the move. Moving
to ARM chips would give Apple a consistent processor architecture across all its
products. Currently, the company uses Intel chips in its desktops and laptops,
but ARM-based processors for its mobile devices, such as iPads and iPhones.
that Apple would be unlikely to move to ARM after having opted out of the
PowerPC chips from IBM in 2006 in favor of Intel. Another architecture move may
not be an attractive option.
Some also have
noted that the speculation comes days after Intel executives unveiled their new Tri-Gate transistor design
, which will begin
appearing in their 22-nanometer "Ivy Bridge" chips later this year or in early
2012. The new 3D transistor structure will enable Intel to significantly drive
down chip size, power consumption and leakage while ramping up performance, all
good enhancements for processors aimed at the mobile space, including tablets
executives said the new processors will enable the company to compete
aggressively with ARM in mobile devices, where ARM has a dominant position,
while also protecting Intel against ARM's proposed encroachment into the server
that x86 products will have first access to 3D transistor gate technology will
likely help offset the architecture handicap of x86 vs. ARM in optimizing low power,"
Doug Freedman, an analyst with Gleacher & Co., said in a research note
about the Tri-Gate transistors. "We do not view this as game changing, but
do see it as heating up the x86 versus ARM battle."
The idea of
Apple looking to ditch Intel in favor of ARM also comes the same week that
Piper Jaffray analyst Gus Richard, in a research note, said that Intel is
"vying for Apple's foundry business. It makes strategic sense for both
companies. The combination of Apple's growing demand and market share in smart
phones and tablets gives Intel a position in these markets and drives the logic
volume Intel needs to stay ahead in manufacturing."
scenario, Intel would be Apple's foundry for ARM-based chips for such devices
as iPhones, iPads and iPods. Rob Enderle, principle analyst with The Enderle
Group, said such a move would be critical for Intel's mobile-computing efforts.
that Apple is looking at such a move, and if they get Apple, the earth
moves," Enderle wrote in an email to eWEEK concerning the Tri-Gate
announcement. "But if they don't get a major brand and/or a very popular
product, [the Tri-Gate technology] still won't be enough."