macbook

Apple to Ditch Intel Chips in Favor of Their Own for Mac Products

apple a11 chip

Back in 2005, Apple decided to move away from using chips from IBM and Motorola.  Part of the reason to switch was to keep up with competitors who were using Intel’s chips in their computers.  This was giving the competitors a big edge in terms of performance.  Today, however, some of the laptops that are being built with Intel chips are getting pushed to the side.  Why?  Well, Apple’s own mobile chips are becoming more popular in devices like the iPhones and iPads.  Which is why it makes sense that Apple is moving away from Intel’s chips and using their own.

On Monday, Apple has announced that they are going to start using their own chips in their computers starting as early as 2020.  This project is still in early development, but this is starting to scare some of Intel’s investors.  I mean, a large number of Intel’s chips go into Apple computers, so this kind of makes sense.  I am concerned though, about whether or not Apple’s chips are going to be able to meet or exceed the level of Intel’s.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that my iPhone doesn’t operate well.  Nor am I saying that Apple can’t make this happen.  But I do wonder to what extent this will be successful?

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I say that partially because of all of the issues that Apple has run into lately with various things.  I’m also not suggesting that one mistake, a year ago, means that they’re not going to be able to make this happen.  When there is more than one misstep, I think it’s important to be guarded and keep your eye on the project.  The bad news?  Intel’s shares dropped 6% after this was announced.  Even with the sharp decline, the stock price still remains high.  So maybe it’s nothing to worry about?

The rationale for Apple’s new chip strategy is to allow its mobile products and computers to work together, in a more seamless way.  Thus increasing the ecosystem objective.  Here’s the sad part.  Last year’s iPad Pro models using Apple’s homemade A10X processor (which is based on designs from ARM Holding) outperformed the company’s 13″ MacBook Pro laptops, which had Intel i7 chips, on some benchmark tests. Apple’s more recent A11 Bionic chip used in the iPhone X and iPhone 8 had even higher benchmark scores.

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While this doesn’t convince me that these chips will be better in the laptops, it does give me hope that Apple has thought this through in a very thorough way.  Apple has been growing their chip design capability since the time when Steve Jobs was leading the company.  This strategy has also allowed Apple to replace Qualcomm processor chips from iPhones years ago, and even more recently replace graphics processing chips in the devices from Imagination Technologies Group.  Maybe this isn’t the worst move for Apple.  I am looking forward to seeing how those 2020 MacBooks perform.