Apple May Ditch Intel x86 and Embrace ARM for Next Generation Macs

It's been more than seven years since Apple began putting Intel inside its systems, and that relationship might be coming to end. Rumors are running rampant on the web this morning that Apple is seriously considering embracing ARM for its Mac lineup, with a version of the chip that it's already using in its iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices.

Citing "three people with knowledge" of the situation, Bloomberg says Apple engineers are fairly confident the Cupertino company will port its mobile device chips over to its desktop and laptop lines, the only unknown is when it will happen. If that's indeed the case, it would be a bold move for Apple.

MacBook Pro

This isn't simply a matter of switching from one chip maker to another, it's an entire architecture change. One of the benefits of Intel's x86 architecture is that Apple users have been able to install Windows on a separate partition using Apple's Boot Camp utility. That might still be possible with Windows RT (formerly known as Windows 8 for ARM), but Windows app compatibility wouldn't be the same.

Nothing is imminent and some are saying that even if such a move takes place, it's not likely to occur for a few years. Even so, just the idea carries heavy implications for Intel. The PC market has grown stagnant while mobile markets are thriving. A move to ARM by a company like Apple could lead others to follow suit.

"Apple is a trendsetting, once they did their own chip many others may pursue a similar path," Sergis Mushell, an analyst at Gartner, told Bloomberg. "If mobility is more important than functionality, then we will have a completely different environment than we are dealing with today."
Tags:  Intel, Apple, Mac, ARM, x86