Tech Strategy Trends

May 7 2011   2:35PM GMT

Apple Ditching Intel in Favor of ARM Processors?

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

There are rumors circulating that Apple intends to move to ARM processors for future generations of its MacBook laptops. Are Intel’s days of dominance coming to an end?

The speculation on the street is that Apple is ready to embrace ARM processors for its laptops (and possibly even Mac desktops) as soon as there are 64-bit ARM chips available–likely late 2012 or early 2013. Moving to ARM would continue the convergence of traditional PCs and mobile devices, and would allow Apple to engineer and manufacture its own processors.

Considerthat Microsoft intends to embrace ARM on some level as well. Microsoft probably won’t abandon x86 processors completely any time soon, but it has demonstrated an early prototype of Windows 8 running on an ARM platform, and it intends to make the next-generation Windows OS more tablet friendly–a market where ARM is the dominant architecture.

Because of its dominant role in server, desktop, and laptop PCs, Intel will not be hurt too much by an Apple defection to ARM. But, the rise of mobile devices–smartphones and tablets–, combined with Microsoft giving its official blessing to ARM, and Apple possibly dropping Intel chips in favor of ARM, illustrate the culture shift that is going on, and indicate that Intel’s days as a virtual monopoly may be over.

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