From being foes to friends to enemies again, Apple and Intel’s relationship is full of drama with intriguing twists and turns. Finally, in 2020, Apple severed its relationship with Intel (for now) by announcing its in-house Apple Silicon processors to power its latest MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Mini.
So, why Apple ended its 15 years old relationship with Intel and went on to design its processors based on ARM architecture? How did Intel respond to Apple’s transition? Let’s try to make sense of Apple’s reasons behind this divorce.
Apple & Intel Relationship Through Years
The story of Apple and Intel is full of so many interesting turns of events, even difficult to keep tabs on.
If we transport ourselves to 1998, which accounts for the origin of this classic rivalry. Back in the 90s, Apple used its PowerPC processor for Mac computers, and not Intel processors. Apple also tried to convince customers that Intel’s processor was inferior to PowerPC. It even conducted various advertisement campaigns insinuating that the Intel processor was as slow as a snail while Mac worked at lightning speed. So, in other words, Apple was the first party to initiate this rivalry.
Fast forward to 2005, when things took an intriguing turn when Steve Jobs announced Apple’s transition to Intel’s processor to run its Mac laptops and desktop computers. To be fair, it was the right move back then. While Mac computers with PowerPC processors were superior in performance to Intel’s, they were not efficient because of excessive energy consumption. This additional energy consumption tempered the battery life of Mac devices.
With this deal, Steve Jobs anticipated Apple’s computers would become more efficient. He anticipated Intel’s processor would deliver 70 units of performance per watt, while PowerPC to deliver only 15. Achieving efficiency was imperative for Apple to fulfill its desire of creating compact designs.
So what situations led to this ruthless breakup?
Reasons Behind Apple Ending 15-Years Relationship With Intel
Everything was going fine, as with Intel’s processor Apple was able to produce the cult-favorite MacBook Air of 2008 and the extra-compact MacBook in 2015.
One thing is for sure, the technology industry is a very competitive one, and innovation is the key to thriving in it. Unfortunately, Intel became stagnant. That’s where the trouble started in paradise.
For Apple to design any computer that meets the specification requirements of the Intel processor, it needed information related to the processor several years in advance to achieve the targeted performance. The next blow to Intel and Apple’s relationship was Intel’s inability to provide the required information to Apple.
Another blow has to be in 2016 when Intel decided to prolong its upgrade of processor technology program from two years to three years, meaning the products that use Intel chips had to forget any innovation and advancement until then.
Then, the performance of the laptops, like the 16-Inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, was also not up to the mark due to overheating, poor battery life, and excessive fan noises.
While Apple iPhone, iPads, and watches were doing incredibly fine with the in-house processor, Apple was losing its credibility and market in the computer industry.
All these factors urged Apple to finally cut it with Intel with the 2020 launch of three new products; MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini with new Apple M1 chips instead of using Intel chips.
How Apple Benefited From Ending its Relationship With Intel
Apple always preferred producing its primary technologies for the products its churns in its factories. When Apple eliminated a third party like Intel from creating its processor, it gave the needed freedom that Apple craves. Plus, since everything is in-house, various teams, from software to hardware within Apple can coordinate efficiently under budget constraints.
With everything in-house, Apple can create more integrated products for its ecosystem.
The new M1 chip that Apple uses in its latest Macs is based on ARM designs with 5-nanometer transistors tailored to Apple’s requirements. Asian companies manufacture such chipsets as per the specifications given by Apple. Though Intel has its factories to develop its chips, still is unable to produce 5-nanometer chips. These custom chips optimized the performance of Mac computers without compromising on quality.
The custom-made ARM chips make M1 MacBooks perform efficiently while consuming less energy. Plus, such technology has enabled Apple to create thinner devices like M1 Macbook Air with fanless design. Apple even uses such ARM chips in its smartphones and tablets.
Another important thing is that with the elimination of third-party, Apple has been able to work on its schedule to prevent any lagging or delays.
Where Does Apple and Intel Relationship Stand Today | Conclusion
Apple and Intel are again no longer on positive terms with each other. As anticipated, Intel started counterattacks inferring that new ARM technology is not the best idea. Some of these comparison campaigns between both processors are even misleading.
On the other hand, Apple is thriving with its Mac sales continually growing, which had been stagnant for so long. It is a matter of time before Intel fights back with newer technology to make Apple’s computers run for money.
As consumers, we have to wait and watch for new turns in this rivalry. Hopefully, we get to see even more high-performance computers hitting the market soon.