Apple dumps Intel from laptop lines

This is going to cause meetings

Apple LogoWord has reached SemiAccurate that Apple (NASDAQ:APPL) is going to show Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) the door, at least as far as laptops are concerned. It won’t be really soon, but we are told it is a done deal.

The short story is that Apple is moving the laptop line, and presumably desktops too, to ARM based chips as soon as possible. With A15/Eagle allowing more than 32-bit memory access, things look up, but it seems silly to do so before the full 64 bit cores come in the following generation. Nvidia is directly telling certain favored analysts that they will have Denver out in Q4 of 2012, maybe Q1/2013, and that uses the full on 64-bit ARM instruction set. It won’t be out by then, but that gives you a good estimation of when that ISA will break cover from one vendor or other. Think mid-2013.

At that point, Apple can move to ARM without worrying about obsoleting code with an ISA that is on the verge of changing, and no memory overhead worries either. Basically, it looks like the perfect time. Ironically, SemiAccurate’s moles tell us that the boys on infinite loop are planning to move laptops to ARM at about that time. Coincidence? Nope.

Now you realize why Apple is desperately searching for fab capacity from Samsung, Global Foundries, and TSMC. Intel doesn’t know about this particular change of heart yet, which is why they are dropping all the hints about wanting Apple as a foundry customer. Once they realize that Apple will be fabbing ARM chips at the expense of x86 parts, they may not be so eager to provide them wafers on advanced processes.

So short story, x86 is history on Apple laptops, or will be in 2-3 years. In any case, it is a done deal, Intel is out, and Apple chips are in. The only question left is if they will use their own core, a Samsung core, or the generic ARM black box. My bet is on generic for the first round, with a custom uncore, and moving to progressively more proprietary features with each successive generation.

If you have difficulty believing that it will happen, you might want to look at some of the history our moles have. Remember this how people laughed when we said Nvidia was totally out at Apple? ATI was in starting with Nehalem laptops, and that transition is now complete. Remember when we said that Apple would split the laptop lines between Penryn and Nehalem? Also note that that story, written about 2 hours after the initial mention of (formerly Light) Peak, also pointed out that Apple would have Peak in laptops at the correct time, and that they would be the lead client. Now the same moles are saying Intel is out. Count on it. Time to give the moles that six-pack they earned.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate