Apple is breaking a 15-year partnership with Intel on its Macs — here's why

www.cnbc.com
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Tuesday's announcement marks the end of a 15-year run where Intel processors powered Apple's personal computers, a big shift for the semiconductor industry.
Apple announced three new Mac computers on Tuesday: a MacBook Air, a 13-inch MacBook Pro, and a Mac Mini. They essentially look the same as their predecessors.

What's new this time is the chip that runs them. Now they're powered by Apple's M1 chip instead of Intel processors. Tuesday's announcement marks the end of a 15-year run where Intel processors powered Apple's laptops and desktops, and a big shift for the semiconductor industry.

Apple is the fourth-largest PC maker measured by shipments, according to a Gartner estimate, so its plan to use its own chips in its entire lineup of laptops and desktops, first announced in June, is a blow for Intel.

Apple's chips are based on ARM technology, as opposed to the x86 architecture that Intel's chips use. ARM was originally designed for mobile devices, and chips built with ARM designs are consistently more efficient, leading to longer battery life. On a laptop, that could mean several extra hours away from the plug.

But that's only one reason why Apple is switching out the brains of its laptops. Here's a rundown of why Apple made the move:

Apple's strategy of owning core technologies. Apple CEO Tim Cook has frequently said that the company has a "long-term strategy of owning and controlling the primary technologies behind the products we make."

For a computer hardware company, there are few technologies less essential than the silicon processors that the machines run on.

Apple has invested heavily in its silicon department, including major purchases, starting with a $278 million purchase of P. A. Semi in 2008, which started the department, and most recently, $1 billion for part of Intel's modem business in 2019. It's been building its own A-series chips for iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches since 2010. Now it's essentially bringing the same technology to laptops and desktops, meaning that all Apple computers…
Kif Leswing
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