Apple moots possibility of using ARM chips in Macs

Apple MacBook Air

Apple is believed to thinking about moving away from using Intel chips in its Mac range as it considers unifying the architecture across its device portfolio.

The firm already licenses designs from ARM, which it uses to make own chipsets for the popular iPhone and iPad range. However, its MacBook and Mac line ups are powered by the more powerful Intel's x86-based processors.

Apple engineers are mooting the possibility that one architecture could be used for the entire line-up of devices, multiple sources have told Bloomberg.

The main benefit of moving to a unified architecture would be that the same applications can be shared across different devices, without the need to re-coding or using an emulator.

Despite the reports, it remains to be seen whether Apple would ditch Intel having just signed an agreement in 2005 to use processors in the Mac.

The switch in architecture could potentially work the other way also as Intel is aggressively pushing into the mobile market. Former CEO Steve Jobs actually wanted to use Intel processors in the original iPhone, but was convinced by engineers that ARM chips would be more appropriate to use in mobile devices as they were more efficient at the time.

Additionally, the advantage ARM chips had in terms of efficiency seems to have been eroded, and it only had the advantage in terms of apps ecosystem.

Intel's latest 2GHz Atom-based SoC debuted in the Motorola Razr i and has provided performance which is on the same level as the dual-core ARM-based rivals. The Intel chipset is also capable of providing all-day battery life, which was a factor Intel had struggled with previously.

The firms declined to comment on the rumours and speculation.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.