Apple’s in-house chips, within a time span of 1-2 years, will be able to deliver performance somewhere along the lines of Intel’s Atom and Core i3, according to Apple Insider, which cites a report released Wednesday by well-connected KGI Securities’ analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The analyst notes that if Apple is able to successfully remove Intel from the equation, then it will enjoy greater control on the launch timing of the Mac.
Apple dependent on Intel
As of now, Apple is almost dependent on Intel’s schedule in announcing major Mac upgrades. Such a dependence is evident from the lack of major upgrades to the Mac lineup in 2013. Since the chip maker was itself struggling with the production of its next-generation Broadwell processors, Apple chose to opt for price cuts for its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro series to retain and win customers.
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In 2012, Apple mass produced its A7 64-bit chip for mobile devices, which was a giant leap toward custom silicon. The A7 was a desktop-class CPU that was better when compared to traditional mobile chips. In 2013, Apple not only came up with the more powerful A8 processor but also introduced its A8X CPU, which is used to power the iPad Air 2.
For a long time, there have been speculations about custom ARM-based, Apple-designed chips for future Macs, but nothing concrete has come to light so far. Meanwhile, Intel has improved its offerings significantly, allowing more battery life for MacBook models.
Apple lays the groundwork
According to Kuo, Apple is working to diversify the fabrication of its custom-designed processing units for the iPhone, the iPad’s A-series and the Apple Watch’s S-series. It is expected that the orders for the iPhone’s next-generation A9 will be split between Samsung and Global Foundries and that the A10 will be handled by TSMC in 2016. The A9X, which will be powering the iPad and a new low-end Mac, will be aligned on TSMC’s 16nm line, while the A10X will go to Samsung’s 10nm plant.
At present, production of the S-series chips is with Samsung, and the analyst expects TSMC to take it over from the Korean firm. First in the line will be the S2 in the second-generation Apple Watch.