Last week I read an interesting analysis of Intel vs. Apple. Intel is the world’s largest CPU maker. Apple designs many of its own chips; from the CPU in the iPhone and iPad, to the CPU in Watch, and even a proprietary chip in the new wireless AirPods.
Intel should worry, right? AMD has never been much of a competitor to Intel, but Apple has both the design chops and resources to compete with the industry giant. Vlad Savov says Intel should worry but for the wrong reasons.
Many of us who have used Apple products for a few decades, and follow Apple closely were surprised and strangely pleased when Apple dropped IBM and Freescale as their preferred Mac chip makers, and went with Intel Inside instead. What Apple gained was obvious. Parity. Both IBM and Freescale didn’t see Apple’s diminishing Mac market as worthy of the investment needed to keep Steve Jobs happy. So Jobs went in the only direction Apple could. To Intel.
Today’s Macs usually run higher end Intel CPUs which keeps the Mac at least on a par with higher end PCs, and Intel seldom has a supply problem, despite the obvious end of Moore’s Law. All is good for both Apple and Intel, right?
Right. Until the iPhone came along. Apple needed a powerful CPU with low power capabilities and Intel’s offerings were anemic, so our favorite Cupertino, CA company went with ARM designs. And bought their own chip design company.
The rest is history.
Apple’s own A-Series CPUs, based upon proprietary designs, run rings around other mobile device CPUs. Apple was first with a 64-bit mobile CPU, and even a dual core Apple designed chip still out performs other mobile chips.
Apple vs. Intel
At first, you might think Apple will compete with Intel but I don’t see that on the future roadmap. General speaking, Apple doesn’t sell its proprietary technology to others, and instead uses it as differentiation from competitors. That means Apple won’t go the way of AMD and sell chips that compete against Intel’s CPUs.
On the contrary, Apple is purchasing more chips from Intel than in years past because the chip giant has focused on chipsets to bolster slowing sales of its traditional CPU business. But it also means Apple may need fewer Intel CPUs in the future if the A-Series CPUs can find their way into the Mac line, now purely Intel Inside.
Already, benchmarks show the A-Series A-10 Fusion to be about on a part with Intel’s Core-M CPU in the MacBook. In fact, a single core of the A10 Fusion CPU in the iPhone outperforms all other mobile CPUs and appears to have caught up with Intel’s newest mobile CPUs.
The world is moving toward the mobile end of the computing scale with nearly 1.5-billion mobile devices shipped last year vs. less than 300-million PCs. As Savov pointed out, Apple shipped more iPhones last quarter than the entire PC industry shipped PCs.
Why not put an Apple CPU into a Mac?
Better yet, how about if Apple re-invents the traditional PC industry with a better device that runs CPUs of its own design, instead of those by Intel? Even the A10 ‘Fusion’ name sounds like Apple has its engineering and chip designer eyes on the future; a future which blends traditional PC designs with the progress already made and accelerating in the mobile industry.