Apple Inc. is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers beginning as early as 2020, replacing processors from Intel Corp., according to people familiar with the plans.
The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices — including Macs, iPhones, and iPads — work more similarly and seamlessly together, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The project, which executives have approved, will likely result in a multi-step transition.
Bloomberg’s Ian King reports on Apple’s move away from Intel for chips.For Apple, the change would be a defining moment. Intel chips remain some of the only major processor components designed by others inside Apple’s product portfolio. Currently, all iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Apple TVs use main processors designed by Apple and based on technology from Arm Holdings Plc. Moving to its own chips inside Macs would let Apple release new models on its own timelines, instead of relying on Intel’s processor roadmap.
The shift would also allow Cupertino, California-based Apple to more quickly bring new features to all of its products and stand out from the competition. Using its own main chips would make Apple the only major PC maker to use its own processors. Dell Technologies Inc., HP Inc., Lenovo Group Ltd., and Asustek Computer Inc. use Intel chips.
By using its own chips, Apple would be able to more tightly integrate new hardware and software, potentially resulting in systems with better battery life — similar to iPads, which use Apple chips.
As part of the larger initiative to make Macs work more like iPhones, Apple is working on a new software platform, internally dubbed Marzipan, for release as early as this year that would allow users to run iPhone and iPad apps on Macs, Bloomberg News reported last year.
Apple’s decision to switch away from Intel in PC’s wouldn’t have a major impact on the chipmaker’s earnings because sales to the iPhone maker only constitute a small amount of its total, said Kevin Cassidy, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. A bigger concern would be if this represents part of a wider trend of big customers moving to designing their own components, he said.
In 2005, Apple announced a move to Intel chips in its Macs, an initiative that put former Intel Chief Executive Officer Paul Ottelini on stage with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. It was a partnership that shook up the PC industry and saw Apple shift away from chips co-developed by IBM and Motorola.
Apple’s custom processors have been recently manufactured principally by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd. It’s decision may signal confidence that TSMC and other suppliers such as Samsung Electronics Co. have closed the gap on Intel’s manufacturing lead and can produce processors that are just as powerful.