Intel submitted a filing with the U.S. International Trade Commission saying Qualcomm’s request to ban iPhone imports is bad for the smartphone market, and goes on to say it’s just a ploy to drive competing mobile device chip makers out of the market.
Remember the good ol’ days when Apple was an underdog fighting the Wintel hegemony? OK, they weren’t necessarily “good,” but they were fun. It’s good to have an enemy, after all. That’s what Steve Jobs believed, as noted by a wonderful account from Ken Segall about why Macs have never had “Intel Inside” branding on them. In Apple’s early days, Steve Jobs made IBM the enemy. As Mr. Segall put it, the massive success of Intel’s own “Intel Inside” ad campaign made it easy for Apple of the late 1990s to make the entire PC platform the enemy. Having that enemy keeps employees and fans alike focused on the company and the platform (in this case), a dream scenario for the company. Steve Jobs was an expert at stoking those fires, and then reversing course and embracing the enemy as a long lost—and necessary—friend. If you love Apple lore, go read this story ASAP. It’s terrific.
The High Sierra firmware also indicates support for Intel’s “Basin Falls” processors, which are high-end desktop CPUs that could power future non-Pro iMacs and Mac minis.
The news is seen as a setback for Apple, but it will be little more than a blip in the iPhone’s overall trajectory.
Recently, we learned that Apple may be seriously considering the use of a Xeon CPU in its so-called “server-grade” iMac planned for later this year. There are good technical reasons why the use of the Xeon has entered the discussion in what has traditionally been considered a consumer iMac—in contrast to the Mac Pro which has had Xeons all along. John explains.
Now that Intel is making cell phone radio chips that support CDMA as well as GSM, Apple can source more than just Qualcomm for CDMA-compatible iPhones. That doesn’t, however, mean Qualcomm is about to lose its Apple contract. Instead, Apple has two suppliers it can rely on.
Apple is reportedly working to scale back its reliance on Intel for MacBook and MacBook Pro chips by designing its own ARM-based processor. The Apple-designed chip will handle low power functions such as Power Nap, and could be a step towards abandoning Intel at some point in the future.
With Intel’s Kaby Lake processors shipping and the MacBook Pro woefully overdue for a refresh, Apple could skip over Skylake and roll out new laptops with the latest chips—except that isn’t going to happen. Instead, Apple will most likely retire the aging Haswell chips it currently uses and finally move on to Skylake, and the really significant processor change won’t come until 2018 with Cannonlake.
Apple might have a new source for manufacturing the company’s Ax line of ARM processors: Intel. Bloomberg reported that Intel has licensed the right to make ARM processors, which is an interesting development for both Apple and Intel.