Apple just fired Intel, what does it mean for the future?

in STEMGeeks3 months ago (edited)

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Apple just announced they will be moving away from Intel within the next two years. This is the end of a 15-year partnership between Apple & Intel.

Apple plans to use its own ARM-based chips in all Apple products including desktops as soon as the end of this year.

Why the move away from Intel?

Rumors are the biggest reason is heat and power demands which have caused problems with the MacBook line of Apple products. ARM processors are simpler and generally run a lot cooler and require far less power.

How much money is this partnership worth?

Apple is 5% of Intel's annual sales and accounts for around $3.4 Billion in revenue.


One of the main advantages for Apple and their customers is the ability to run iPhone & iPad apps directly on Mac devices without any changes.

Secret benefit for Apple?

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What hasn't been talked about is the practice of running macOS on non-Apple hardware commonly referred to as Hackintosh. Apple has always hated the practice of running their software on non-Apple hardware and has had limited success in stopping it. By moving to ARM it will be almost impossible to find suitable hardware outside of Apple to run macOS.

In my experience, Hackintosh computers perform far better than Apple hardware but are a lot more work. The process has gotten far easier over the years to the point it is really straight forward these days. That all will end with the move to ARM processors.

This won't happen immediately though, it will take a while before Apple stops supporting Intel-based Macs but the writing is on the wall.

Will this be the end for Intel?

Nah, I don't see this change being a huge impact on Intel outside of their ego. In fact, I think it might give Intel the kick in the pants to do something about the power demands of their CPUs. Maybe the switch to ARM will fail and Intel will be there to say I told you so.

Intel is still the primary CPU sold today and used by most computer companies like Dell, Sony, HP, Toshiba, IBM.

Will this be the solution to the ongoing throttling problems on Apple's high-end Macbook Pros or is it just a way for Apple to make more money and eliminate the competition?


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Back in 2006/7, the company I was working for was building/testing a bunch of computers that were using a processor that was designed by a start-up named PA Semi . We had around 10 fully functional computer designs that were significantly cooler and consumed considerably less power than the competing chips (Intel and Freescale). I'm talking in the order of 10X more efficient.

I came in to work one day and everyone was buzzing ... Apple had swoopped in, bought PA Semi, then negotiated deals with all of the companies that had invested in the chip (Research, Development and Procurement). Essentially, the chip had simply disappeared ... and the team at PA Semi were now working for Apple.

Shortly after, the first iPhone was revealed, then later still, the iPad came out ... We liked to believe that we had helped PA Semi debug the processor that became the Jesus phone, but we will never know.

When Apple went with the Intel chip, I was quite surprised. I believed it to be far too inefficient.

Moving to an ARM chip makes a lot of sense. I'm curious whether the team from PA Semi are behind this ARM chip or whether they have all retired with Lambo's by now.

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Apple has always hated the practice of running their software on non-Apple hardware and has had limited success in stopping it.

Microsoft is having a lot of success on that. Not against competing OS's necessarily. What they fight is Windows 7...

Will this be the end for Intel?

Pretty sure it barely affects them. If it did, they wouldn't have been so lazy by not meeting Apple's overheat complaints.

Will this be the solution to the ongoing throttling problems on Apple's high-end Macbook Pros or is it just a way for Apple to make more money and eliminate the competition?

Both, for sure.

So no x86 Software for Mac anymore, sounds like they are on the wrong path. But who knows, I‘m not their Laptop/PC customer anyway.

But I don‘t think it‘s cheaper to switch to ARM based bords, especially because you need a bunch of different and specialized ARM processors.

Intel still has huge businesses elsewhere, but I do think this move will be a huge headache for them. Not just Apple, but with ARM chips now moving into servers, quantum-computers on the horizon, and with AMD taking more market-share on the consumer side, it could prove disastrous if Intel doesn't take it seriously.

On that note, I'm pretty excited to see what Apple's got cooking up for their ARM-powered Macs. I've never had the luxury of getting into the Apple ecosystem, but having used them, that optimisation and integration between hardware and software is amazing. With Apple now in full control of both ends in the Macs, it could revolutionise how ARM can be utilised for PCs. Or... It could be a disaster, but time will tell, I guess 🍎.

The news has me considering buying an Intel Macbook, just because it'll probably hold its value pretty well. MacOS still doesn't grab me as the most intuitive and useful OS out there but because you can run Linux and Windows on them (I think Windows is compatible with the latest?), they're still decent hardware.

Apple, being a company with basically infinite cash, just has to be sure to hire the right people to guide hardware development. Jim Keller just resigned from Intel and it's obvious to me it's because Apple gave him an offer that was hard to refuse.

The shift to ARM CPUs is great news for the development of microprocessors. Competition is healthy. We've seen what happens when Intel has little, multiple times: products stagnate.

I wouldn't buy any piece of hardware under the idea it will hold any sort of value.

If Apple is phasing out Intel, then x86 supported macOS is already starting to die off. It will take some time, and Apple will maintain support for years, but it is dying off, making an Intel-based Mac a product with a guaranteed expiration date.

I'm in a position where I am stuck on Windows 10 against my will, as a gamer and a business user, I need Windows and I refuse to dual boot. Linux isn't an option as support is still limited and many of the apps still look like they were made in 1970. macOS is the closest thing for me, many of the Apps I need have versions for macOS but gaming still is a problem. The problem is it only works on Hackintosh, there is no way I'd pay Apple for their inferior hardware with 200%-300% markup.

I was a Microsoft supporter up until Windows 10, a lot of the claims Apple made about Microsoft and Windows in their I'm a Mac I'm a PC did not age well because they all can be reversed to this day and Windows is actually more secure. But Microsoft went full evil with Windows 10 but there is nowhere to go for me without dual boot or dual computers. I used to run both side by side but it is just a pain.

In an ideal world, I'd run Linux as my main workstation.

Agreed about operating systems. Windows 10 was basically like Microsoft handing a Nobel Prize to Richard Stallman.

The point I'm trying to make is that maybe I wouldn't lose money on depreciation if I got a Macbook, ran Linux on it, and sold it 3 years later. My laptop isn't terrible, in part thanks to the general stagnation of hardware/lithography process development, but I am considering a replacement.

Whatever money you may save on depreciation, you would likely more than make back in savings by buying a Dell XPS or something.

I was looking at reviews on recent XPS models actually. Seems they've taken one step forward (design, keyboard layout) and two steps back (overheating, fan noise, keyboard feel, build quality). And the costs for equal storage and RAM haven't changed since I bought my laptop. At that point the only real reason I have to upgrade might be to get a fresh battery (non removable batteries, yay) and that's not worth the cost of a new laptop.

In my experience that applies only if you opt for the top of the line, maxed out MBP. And then you're truly talking ridiculous sums for a laptop and which will only find buyers among a pro crowd who just can't afford the newest top of the range specs.

IMHO with the switch to ARM that's going to be a very risky strategy.

I am so glad I left that corporate slave trap after 8 years. I still use macs but after this I am going back to windows unfortunately. They are wanting to make it more and more proprietary. They hate open source anything. Anyway, I will get off my soap box, lol. But I do love the software... I do love my Logic Pro and Final Cut.

My favorite thing about macOS is Alfred.

By the time Apple fully ditches Intel support, ARM will be common also in non-Apple desktops and laptops. Hack into SH will definitely evolve and continue to be a vibrant scene.

Microsoft has already used ARM in certain Surface models. But doesn’t yet have the extensive experience of designing ARM chips Apple has. The Mac Mini dev kit comes with a A12X CPU, which refers to a yesteryear iPhone/iPad Pro CPU range, the A12, souped up one level more than the iPad Pro. The latter, of course, which has since two generations been promoted as faster than the average desktop/laptop (altho applies only on specific tasks, definitely in video editing).

With ARM also being huge in the realm of AI, and AMD having not merely come back to the game but solidly overtaken Intel, Intel faces some years where they will have to maximizes everything they can in their silicon. Interesting times for hardware fans, and observers alike. Almost as interesting as when Intel ditched RAM as a product. Deliver the best or perish!

Thanks for the info and update TMM. Windows is used here in my region of the world quite a lot, though Apple has always been the benchmark. Intel lost a historic piece of the market there curiously. You would think heat issues would be solved, nevertheless competition in the industry is good.

Apple have some history of moving processor from the old 68xxx to Power PC to Intel. They seem to have managed to transitions well. I've not owned any Apple gear, although my daughter's old MacBook is cluttering my study. I did run a Mac Emulator on my Amiga that was pretty good. A friend helped me out with the OS disks.

I made the move to Linux many years ago to reduce my dependence on the big OS vendors. I've tended to use AMD chips. It's been some years since I last built a PC.

I know a lot of people love Apple gear, but I don't like the sort of control they have.

Thinking in terms of the third party repair shops this sound like it’s going be another hit to them for repairing mac products in a couple of years.

Intel has been slipping for a while now. I think it’s been a number of years since I’ve had an Intel cpu. It is interesting to look at the stock prices for something like AMD compared to Intel. They are getting closer and closer in stock price yet Intel has ten times the yearly revenue.

Im keen to see where RISC-V goes, that would let Apple be even more difficult to use.

Rumors are the biggest reason is heat and power demands which have caused problems with the MacBook line of Apple products. ARM processors are simpler and generally run a lot cooler and require far less power.

Nah, typical Apple 'rumors'. It's Apple's usual shit of wanting to have full control of everything that goes into their machines. Don't get me wrong, there is a huge advantage to having total and absolute control over everything to do with your product. It's possible to make an extremely stable product with hardware and software that are guaranteed to have 100% compatibility even at the lowest level.

But if we are being honest, this is about profit and control; nothing more. Well, okay - I will give them a little bit of credit. Arm processors do run cooler. However, this, in my opinion is a HUGE step backwards. ARM processors are designed to be power efficient and it is where they excel! However, they are out of their depth if they think that they can compete with super high performance processors which is Intel's expertise.

Apple desktop computers were practically on their deathbeds when they were insisting on using their own painfully slow 'cool running' processors. Intel made the 'Mac Pro' a serious and competitive machine! In fact, the Intel Cheese Graters are still wildly popular.

Disclaimer: I own 2 Macbook Pros (for travel and work), a Macbook pro (My music studio), and about 4 high end PC desktops (2 Intel, 2 AMD Threadrippers). I am not biased, I love my Apple computers. But there is nothing more infuriating as a tech than actually dealing with Apple when there is a hardware problem.

You should check out Louis Rossmann on youtube if you haven't seen him before. He is a Mac repair tech in New York who posts great videos on how to fix all kinds of hardware problems (all the way down to the surface mount components on the mainboards), as well as discussing the BS he has to deal with with Apple. He also talks about dumb motherboard layouts on various MacBook Pro models that cause overheating. Incidentally, he fixes problems in 5 minutes with a soldering iron that Apple Geniuses claim would require a full motherboard replacement. Good stuff!

I do believe the heat and thermal throttling complaints of their top tier MacBooks are a huge factor but I am well aware of their need to control and own everything as well. If Intel was performing well enough they would have negotiated a deal that would be worth continuing to use them.

This is a power move no doubt.

I know and love Louis Rossmann, very interesting watching him even though I don't really care about component level repair.

I do believe the heat and thermal throttling complaints of their top tier MacBooks are a huge factor

I have experienced this with both my MacBooks - especially with resource hungry applications they start to feel like I could fry an egg on them!

With the continued desire to make these things even thinner there reaches a point that there will have to be a trade-off. Who knows, maybe they've had some huge breakthrough with their processors that I'm not aware of. I would be happy with that!

Maybe it's because I grew in the 80s, but I actually like my laptop to have a little bit of thickness to it. I actually really like the size and weight of the 2013 era MB Pro 15" models. I just like the substantial, tactile feeling. Perhaps it is just psychological and showing of my age?

There is no question an ARM processor properly designed will be far cooler and likely not throttle. They already did the bulk of the work for the iPhone and iPad and likely planned this all along.

According to many within the industry, Intel's .x86 architecture suffers formcode bloat and cannot match the power efficiency of RISC based systems. ARM has made impressive inroads into the server space, Intel's main chunk of business. and dominates the mobile market. ARM has been positioning itself as having the most attractive porfolio of IP that provides OEMs with the best total cost of ownership options.

Intel generally supports a lot more modern instructions, Apple has taken ARM quite a ways but it is still no competition for x86 high-end CPUs. Apple may change that, but the other problem is the lack of software support for things people typically do on x86. X86 has carried support for a line of CPUs for decades, so there is surely going to be bloat. ARM typically has problems with some of the tasks in modern desktop environments, like for example it sucks at video encoding compared to x86.

ARM does well on servers but going to be a long time for them to do anything to the desktop market. Apple has drastically increased its desktop market share but it is still only 15-18%.

According to a fairly recent IDC report, desktop and fixed workstations are projected to have a 21.3% market share where as notebook and mobile workstations will gain 45.9%. We could also add "edge computing" into the mix. It's projected to become market of $18 billion by 2022 and a point of major focus of computing as the industry moves forward.

I was referring to Apple's share of the desktop market