Chips down for Intel as Apple plans own processors in future Mac devices

3 Apr 2018

Various Apple devices. Image: Aliona-art/Shutterstock

Thanks to the iPhone, Apple has been getting very good at silicon and aims to start using its own processors in Mac computers.

Intel stock fell 9pc yesterday (2 April) as reports emerged that Apple is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers from 2020 onwards.

The decision would be a major blow to Intel, Apple’s Mac chip supplier.

But, if you looked closely, the writing has been on the wall for some time and Intel processors are some of few external processors still used on Apple products. Currently, all iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple TV devices use chips designed by Apple and based on technology from Arm Holdings.

Chips off the new block

It is clear that Apple has been getting very good at semiconductor electronics, especially if you look at the A11 Bionic chip that featured in the latest iPhone X as well as the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

The A11 is 25pc faster than the previous A10 and features the first Apple-designed GPU. The chip also boasts built-in neural engines to make Face ID work as well as Apple’s own-design Secure Enclave technology.

It makes sense in Apple-esque fashion that the California tech giant is working on a project of making all its chief devices – including Macs, iPhones and iPads – work off the same microprocessor family.

According to Bloomberg, in a project codenamed Kalamata, Apple is working on a strategy to make this happen by 2020.

Similarly, Apple is working on a project codenamed Marzipan that would run both iOS and macOS apps across devices.

Intel sales of chips such as the Core i7 to Apple are estimated to account for 5pc of the former’s annual revenues.

Both Intel and Apple are significant employers in Ireland, employing around 4,000 and 5,000 people, respectively.

Various Apple devices. Image: Aliona-art/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years