It may seem like only yesterday when Apple began using Intel hardware inside, but it's actually been nearly a decade. Prior to that, Apple was co-designing custom PowerPC chips for use in its laptops, but that added an extra layer of complexity to advancing the product category with slimmer and faster models, so it turned to Intel. Ten years is a long time, and while business relationships tend to change, Intel CFO Stacy Smith is confident that what made its chips attractive a decade ago will also keep the relationship intact moving forward.
"For a customer like Apple you'd have to take a big step off performance to step off our architecture," Smith told Business Insider in an interview. "That is what in essence enables us to win across different customers."
Put another way, Smith thinks Apple needs Intel if it's to continue releasing competing desktops and laptops. It's something that's become a topic of discussion lately, with rumors swirling that Apple was looking to abandon Intel in favor of ARM.
That probably won't happen this year, but what about next year and the year after that? There's some chatter that Apple's custom designed ARM chips will one day have enough horsepower to run systems like the MacBook Air. Making the switch to ARM would also negate having to wait on Intel when there's a chip delay.
Smith isn't fazed by any of that talk, though it's something he may have to address in the not-too-distant future.