Apple reportedly investigating custom processors for Mac

Apple mulling switch to custom processors for Macs

Just like Apple once investigated Intel processors for Macs back when they were still all-in on PowerPC, so once again do we hear about Apple mulling customer processors for their Mac line. This time the story's spun around the new technologies group, headed by Bob Mansfield, and reports they're working on new, custom processors for desktops and laptops that are variations of the A-series processors found in iOS devices. Adam Satariano of Bloomberg reports:

To be sure, no final decision has been made and Apple may opt to continue working with Intel for years to come. For Apple, the risk of turning its back on Intel is a repeat of its situation in 2005, when it had to abandon the PowerPC chips -- made by Motorola and IBM -- it had used in its Mac line. At the time, its processors had fallen so far behind Intel’s in performance that it decided to team up with the chipmaker. The first Mac models running Intel chips were unveiled in January 2006.

Apple is known for planning ahead and exploring its options. Before the switch from PowerPC to Intel chips was revealed in 2005, Apple had various versions of OS X running on Intel-based machines for a couple of years. Just because they’re exploring it doesn’t mean it will happen anytime soon, if it happens at all. However, we also have to remember that Apple wants to rely on as few outside companies as possible when making their products. Keep in mind that in relying on Intel chips, any advances Apple might wish to make are subject to Intel’s release schedule, and they get the same processors as everyone else. Making their own chips would allow Apple to more tightly integrate OS X with their hardware, and may even allow more interoperability between OS X and iOS.

Source: Bloomberg

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is a news reporter for iMore. He's also chilling out and having a sandwich.

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There are 10 comments. Add yours.

nickpthemft says:

Customer processors? Is that like where you get in a big wheel and run fast to power your 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display?

mech1164 says:

Ok here is where without someone with the Iron Fist we get this. I could understand if this was say 10 more years out when they decided to do this. It's only been 7 years since the announcement. Has everyone at Apple been replaced with 5 year olds? Don't they remember how badly they were at that time. One of the big selling points for the macbook was that it ran windows better than any pc on the market. I used to sell macs a decade ago. I remember when a person would ask does it run Office or a particular program on windows. We would have to tell them it does not. That's when they would make a bee line to a worse pc just so they could run what they needed. This is a bad idea all around. Nevermind that this will kill any sales of new macbooks when they announce this POS. The King is dead and there is no long live the king anymore.

Obsidian71 says:

A decade ago was a looooong time mate..

mech1164 says:

Yes you are right it is a long time ago. The problems though are still the same.

tpherson1 says:

You are exactly correct. It has been almost 18 years since I last owned a Mac. I am about 90% sure that my next computer will be a Mac. Why? The ability to run Windows either through BootCamp or by a VM such as Parallels. Most of the software I use now on a regular basis is availble in a version that works on OSX, and the file formats are compatible, but there are still some that are not. These are applications that are vital to my business, I still need a solution for these. I beleive the current compatibility between Mac's and PC's are allowing the growth in the number of Mac users, and allows the expansion into markets that were previously part of the Windows monopoly. I think they need to think this through and not cut off the compatibility of their current machines.

kralnor says:

So you two guys (and I do too) run parallels or boot camp for a few programs. I'd be willing to bet the vast majority of Mac users do not, and do not care that they can't run ms office or whatever. A lot has changed in 10 years, and the need most people once had to run pc-only software has almost disappeared.

cc3d says:

I guess that's fine if all Macs are going to do is check email and browse the web. As usual, will have to use Windows or Linux to do power computing. Not like Apple's going to leapfrog Intel anytime soon!!

kralnor says:

They are spending 8 billion in r+d on something, and I bet its not just ways to make thinner rectangles.

BalBurgh says:

No Windows compatibility, no sale.

lungho says:

Return to custom processors = return to same dead end road before Jobs came back.