Apple to ditch Intel in favour of its own chips in Macs, reports Bloomberg

IntelApple is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers from 2020, replacing processors from Intel, according to Bloomberg.

The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in its early stages but comes as part of a bigger strategy to make Apple’s family of devices work more seamlessly together, according to the report.

“The shift would be a blow to Intel,” said the report, co-written by Mark Gurman, who has built a reputation for breaking stories about Apple.

“[Their] partnership helped revive Apple’s Mac success and linked the chipmaker to one of the leading brands in electronics. Apple provides Intel with about 5% of its annual revenue, according to Bloomberg supply chain analysis.”

In fact, Apple was already well on the road to once again leading the consumer computer market when in 2005 it announced it was switching from PowerPC processors to Intel’s x86 chip architecture. It was among Apple co-founder Steve’s Jobs’ many prescient strategic decisions.

“Our goal is to provide our customers with the best personal computers in the world, and looking ahead Intel has the strongest processor roadmap by far,” said Jobs at the time. “It’s been ten years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel’s technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years.”

The Financial Times reported: “Apple’s eventual move away from Intel to its own chips has long been seen as inevitable among analysts.

“Starting with the acquisition of PA Semi a decade ago, Apple has gradually brought more of its products’ silicon under its own control, from the iPhone’s A-series processors to the W-series chips that improve wireless connectivity inside its Apple Watch and AirPods.

“By developing its own chips, Apple has more control over its products’ destiny rather than being reliant on another company’s roadmap and it can build hardware and software that work more efficiently together.”

Apple observer John Gruber commented: “Hell of a scoop if it pans out. We’ve all been speculating about ARM-based Macs for years. In broad strokes it seems like a rather obvious idea:

  • Apple seeks to control its own future. With Intel, Apple has often been stuck waiting for new Intel chips. The update schedule for new Mac hardware is often in Intel’s hands, not Apple’s.
  • Apple’s internal chip team has been killing it. They’ve never had a bad year. I think you can argue that they’ve never had anything but a great year. iPhones and iPad Pros have been faster than most MacBooks for years now, and that just seems wrong.

“But when you start thinking about the details, this transition would (will?) be very difficult. First, while Apple’s existing A-series chips are better for energy-efficient mobile device use (iPhone, iPad, just-plain MacBook), Apple’s internal team has never made anything to compete with Intel at the high-performance end (MacBook Pros, and especially iMacs and Mac Pros). I’m not saying they can’t. I’m just saying they haven’t shown us anything yet.

“And then there’s all sorts of questions about the transition period. Will there be something like Rosetta — an emulator or translator that allows existing x86 Mac software to run on the new ARM-based Macs? How far in advance will Apple announce this, so that developers can adapt their apps? (Apple announced the switch from PowerPC to Intel at WWDC 2005, and started shipping Intel-based MacBook Pros in early 2006.)”