Breaking Analysis: Apple Seeking Hardware Independence From Intel?

Many of us dream that one day, every screen we use will give us the same experience.  What I mean by this is that the user interface of our smartphone will be the same as our tablet, personal computer, Smart TV, and any other device with a screen, letting you perform the same functions and capabilities across the board.

Well according to Bloomberg, Apple is already working this, supposedly developing a processor to enable a streamlined experience across different screens.  And they might abandon using Intel chips in the process of gaining total control over their hardware components.

Right now, they are using Apple-tweaked ARM-based chips on their mobile devices such as the iPhone and the iPad, while Macs use Intel chips.  There’s a reason why Intel is used in Macs and ARM is used in their iDevices – the chips work well with the devices they were put in, powering up to run at full capacity.

The last time Apple changed chips on their Macs was back in 2005 when they replaced Motorola and IBM’s PowerPC with Intel’s processors.  The Intel chips were far more advance than the PowerPC, and the switch enabled Macs to install and run Microsoft’s Windows OS.  So it was a win-win situation for Intel, Apple and Microsoft.

If Apple does choose to abandon Intel for their own processor, it would be a significant loss for Intel.  The chip maker is already suffering from a declining demand for PCs, and the stakes are greater as more mobile devices, tablets especially, gain the propensity of full-functioning PCs.

“Apple is a trendsetter, and once they did their own chip many others may pursue a similar path,” said Sergis Mushell, an analyst at Gartner Inc. “If mobility is more important than functionality, then we will have a completely different environment than we are dealing with today.”

AllThingsD thinks the shift away from Intel is unlikely due to their strong partnership with Intel, but pointed out that there’s still a possibility of Apple forging its own path.

Nevertheless, Intel is still the top processor of choice when it comes to PCs and servers, while ARM is preferred for many mobile devices in today’s market.  Intel chips, when used on mobile devices, result in quick battery drainage while ARM, when used on PCs, cannot perform as well as Intel chips.  But that doesn’t mean either of these companies aren’t doing something about it.

In August, Intel acquired  InfineonTechnologies’ Wireless Solutions business, for approximately $1.4 billion, in an effort to boost their mobile presence, while ARM  introduced the successors to their popular Mali-T600 graphics processors: the Mali-T678, Mali-T628 and Mali-T624 to power high-end 2013 smartphones and they are developing chips to power Smart TVs as well.

“There’s no reason that an Intel chip couldn’t arbitrarily be made to have the same power efficiency as an ARM chip. There’s also no reason that an ARM chip couldn’t be faster with the right hardware resources brought to bear,” analyst Nathan Brookwood told AllThingsD. “It’s all a matter of implementation.”

Both Bloomberg and AllThingsD looked at the situation as Apple using ARM chips in the future for all their devices, but they did not see the possibility that Apple may use Intel chips in all of their products moving forward.  

For more on Apple’s diminishing reliance on Intel is SiliconAngle founder John Furrier, who appeared on this morning’s NewsDesk segment with Kristin Feledy.