Intel, AMD, and the future of Mac processors

iMac Pro with Magic accessories
iMac Pro with Magic accessories (Image credit: iMore)

Prognosticating future advances in computer technology can be hit or miss. You can find analysts that can argue both the demise and the triumph of a company given the exact same data points. That's why when reading about speculative statements, one should be using a discerning eye and ear.

However, some analysts have methodologies and an almost Batman-esque sleuthing ability to connect dots. Jim Parker at AdoredTV is in my opinion one such analyst. He has an uncanny ability to ferret out nuances in marketing and tech speak from various sources and lay out his reasoning on any prediction he makes.

Intel hamstrung at 10nm

His latest video discusses his predictions (and reasonings behind those predictions) on what's in store for consumers in 2018 in regards to AMD, Intel, and Nvidia. He discusses the success of AMDs Ryzen CPUs and their upcoming improved 12 nanometer process to increase performance by 10%.

More interestingly, however, is how he details Intel's struggles with moving from the current Coffee Lake 14 nanometer process (upon which has been the process size since 2014 and the Broadwell series) to the Canon Lake 10 nanometer process. He provides links to evidence of the 10 nanometer process reportedly performing at lower IPC and clock speeds due to various architectural issues.

Here is Jim's video explaining the issue himself:

Why this matters for Apple

On the iOS side of things, Apple designs the A-series processor and as such, Apple isn't beholden to Intel or AMD when manufacturing iDevices.

The Mac is a different animal. Apple specs out it's requirements for their Macs and tries to get the best components possible that will have all of the feature sets Apple deems as necessary.

Currently, Apple uses Intel CPUs and their underlying chipsets for the Mac lineup. If Intel suffers from bad press or poor performance, then Mac will suffer from those same issues. As consumers, we want access to the best technology available. Frankly, I'd like to see AMD Ryzen based Macs if Intel can't improve their price or performance metrics.

Apple's A10 chipset may inoculate Apple in the future

That all being said, Apple recently made public that it's upcoming iMac Pro will include an Apple designed A10 coprocessor along side it's normal Intel CPU. For now, it will allow for full on Siri support and perform low power tasks. However, could this be a sign for a future to come with Mac having an A-series processor exclusively? It's not unprecedented as Apple switched from PowerPC to Intel in the past. Time will tell.

Final thoughts

Regardless of what is in store for AMD, Intel et al. in the coming year, I'm certain that we can always expect beautifully designed, high quality products from Apple. Does the news that Intel is having process troubles worrying to you? Let us know in the comments.

Anthony Casella