Apple May Consider Dropping Intel as Mac Chip Supplier, Says Report

Here’s something that would make for some interesting fodder for speculation about Apple’s plans for the next half-decade or so: according to a report by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Cupertino-based firm still nurtures the desire to transition its line of Mac computers away from chipmaking giant Intel’s products.

The report cited two anonymous sources familiar with these deliberations. However, it underscored the difficulty of carrying out this transition and pointed out that the move may not come for a while.

There have been earlier rumors that Apple will drop Intel CPUs in favor of offerings from the latter’s long-time rival, AMD, but these clearly did not pan out. Considering that Intel has the power efficiency and performance advantage over AMD, this possibility should be out of the running unless the latter makes some unexpected strides in its chip design and manufacturing.

An intriguing possibility is that Apple could drop support for the x86 architecture completely, and instead utilize a custom ARM processor like the A6 system-on-a-chip that powers the iPhone 5.

While this silicon is easily at the top echelon of smartphone and tablet processors, it isn’t known if these designs can compete with Intel’s higher-end offerings in terms of sheer performance at the moment.

Therefore, Intel could still provide CPUs for Apple’s computers in the short-to-medium term. However, once the performance difference between ARM-based CPUs and those based on the x86 architecture gets sufficiently small, this sort of move by Cupertino may become a reality. It’s not like Apple doesn’t have a history of moving its computers across CPU architectures:

IBM’s PowerPC powered Macs before 2005, when Cupertino moved to Intel’s x86.