Published in PC Hardware

Apple to kick out Intel in 2020

by on04 April 2018


Intel has one percent Apple profits

The market is upset about the leaked news that Apple might dump Intel in its future notebooks in 2020. Apple is working on its own Kalamata chip that could power phones, tablets and Macs in the future.

This is obviously a bigger chip that will probably be an even bigger version of the X version of the Apple SoC that currently powers the iPad Pro. Given what will be possible in 2020, it is not unlikely even to see 5 nm products and going from current 10nm towards 7nm and eventually to 5nm SoCs, you will be able to pack in more CPU and GPU.

Apple will continue a dual chip strategy as we don’t see any reason in having one chip that fits the very small form factor phone and the same chip for a Mac BookPro. Even in 2020, it is unlikely that Apple will completely walk away from Intel as some professional workloads will need a lot of horsepower, something that companies like Intel and AMD can enable.

Bloomberg calls this a multi-step transition.

Apple A10X with 96.4mm2 is a rather small SoC and it still packs three big and three small core, and a twelve core Imagination GPU, that is likely to be replaced by Apple’s own bigger GPU by then. Kaby Lake GT2 in comparison has 126 mm² die size but packs much more horsepower.  

Apple has a history of moving to its own solutions away from third party SoCs and products and it has already cut out suppliers in the SoC department, outrun Imagination technologies with its own (cough) GPU and wants to do the same for notebooks. Even if Intel is dumped by Apple, this is only one percent of profits for the company, it will hardly bring it down. Apple is known for its negotioation skills and ability to twist suppliers arms and to sqeeze each and every last penny to make the deal more lucrative. 

All in house = Total control 

The Cupertino based giant would gladly want to get rid of Intel and Qualcomm in the modem department too, but it turns out that wireless is much harder than many people believed. Maybe one day Apple will gather enough knowledge, manage to steal enough engineers and talent from the wireless guys and make its own modem.  

Apple will of course rely on its eco system. It locked millions of people into using iPhones and its strategy to revive the rather dead MacBook business with the success of iPhones, turned out to be the right move. It took it a few years, but Mac is again a popular device, especially among iPhone users.

Having an in-house chip will help Apple distance itself further between PC notebook manufacturers such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer or Asus. These guys rely mostly on Intel and partially on AMD CPUs, while most of the flagships still exclusively come with Intel.

Again, it is all about the software and ecosystem as this is what attracts most of Apple customers. Most of them don’t care about what is inside a machine, they just want the latest greatest Mac with a sexy case and a beautiful screen. That is the sad reality.

Last modified on 04 April 2018
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