How about the Intel of yesteryear vs. Apple, IBM, and Motorola’s chips? It was RISC vs. CISC. Intel won the PC battles and the war but that was a different era. PCs. Where is Intel in the modern battle of mobile devices? It doesn’t matter because the PC chip wars are back again.
ARM vs. Intel
Let’s start the war watching with a little history. Intel you know about already. The chip giant powers almost all the desktop PCs in the known universe of earth. But, PC sales are not going anywhere in the mobile era and Intel has struggled to provide powerful chips that are low power in nature.
Meanwhile, ARM became the little chip engine that could. Apple was an early investor in ARM before Steve Jobs returned in 1997 and sales of ARM stock over a few years helped to keep the company afloat. To say Apple loves ARM is to not understand the computer industry. ARM chips are basically low power consuming chips– almost the opposite of Intel chips.
Intel chips are powerful and consume massive amounts of power, while, historically, at least, ARM chips consumed far less power, but were far less powerful.
Those days are gone.
Intel has struggled to make smaller, power-sipping chips that are still powerful. Meanwhile, Apple bought its own chip design company, and those much admired folks are churning out chips for iPhones and iPads and AirPods and even the Mac. Yes, the A-Series chips from Apple are based upon ARM technology and chips in iPhone X and iPhone 8 benchmark about the same as the entry-level MacBook Pro which runs power-sipping Intel Inside.
ARM says the company is poised to outperform Intel within a few years. It means Intel has another competitor beyond AMD in the personal computer wars. ARM chips already show up in inexpensive notebook PCs running Windows 10, and many Apple watchers– including yours truly– expect Apple to introduce a low-end Mac notebook with Intel Outside and an Apple-designed ARM-based A-series CPU inside.
ARM is different than Intel. The PC chip maker, well, makes chips. ARM designs chips and sells licenses. Apple takes those basic ARM chip designs and customizes them for iPhone and iPad. Yes, we should expect an Apple-designed ARM-based chip in a future Mac.
Do you not find it odd that the MacBook Air, an aging design from yesteryear, is still around? Why? It’s priced at $999 but more powerful in many respects than the entry-level MacBook models which have pretty colors but anemic power. Does it not make sense to keep the MacBook Air monicker and turn it into the true entry-level Mac notebook; perhaps not quite as graphically powerful as a MacBook Pro, but priced far less?
How about 2018?