Friday Fun: Apple Moving to it’s own Chips for the Mac?

  • June 11, 2020
  • Scott
  • 0 Comments

In this article, and also according to Bloomberg, speculation ahead of Apple’s WWDC conference is that Apple might announce its own chips for Mac hardware launching in 2021.  Speculation on this subject has been a recurring theme, because Apple’s ARM-based Axx chips have outperformed every other mobile chip on the market for a couple of years at a time.

There are lots of interesting reasons for Apple to do this:

  1.  starting with, it has the ability to do it, thanks to years of designing its own highly performant chips for mobile devices and iPads
  2. it can incorporate features into its chip design that support its operating system or key differentiating features of its product line
  3. it can increase margins or reduce costs by taking out a very profitable vendor from its parts mix
  4. design cadence can be achieved to support the timing Apple wants for product releases.

And:

Inside Apple, tests of new Macs with the Arm-based chips have shown sizable improvements over Intel-powered versions, specifically in graphics performance and apps using artificial intelligence, the people said. Apple’s processors are also more power-efficient than Intel’s, which may mean thinner and lighter Mac laptops in the future.

Performance: of the battery, of the CPU.

This paragraph jumped out at me though:

Apple has about 10% of the PC market, so the change may not cut into Intel sales much. However, Macs are considered premium products. So if the company moves away from Intel for performance reasons it may prompt other PC makers to look at different options, too. Microsoft Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Lenovo Group Ltd. have already debuted laptops that run on Arm-based chips.

But none of the PC makers (other than, Microsoft and Google) control their operating system… so switching chip architectures moves at the pace of Microsoft (or Chrome with Google), not at your pace.  And Microsoft isn’t designing chips for their machines (yet?).  I just think some of the logic for other OEMs to jump on the bandwagon is predicated on someone else’s chips outperforming Intel or AMD architectures.  When that happens, then there is potential to switch.  Switching Intel/AMD can happen on compatible architecture, but getting to a whole new architecture is a big lift. One that Apple has experience with.

 

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