Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger made some major announcements yesterday during the Intel Unleashed: Engineering the Future webcast. One of the key announcements was setting up a new standalone business unit called Intel Foundry Services (IFS) with the goal of becoming a major provider of U.S.– and Europe-based foundry capacity. The portfolio of products that will be offered by the new unit will include both x86 and ARM chips, and one of the customers that Intel aims to serve is Apple.
In case you missed it, Apple transitioned to in-house ARM-based silicon last year when it launched the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini with the M1 chip inside. No Intel Inside. While ditching Intel was a big move in itself, this was not simply Apple moving away from a brand, but also leaving the x86 architecture behind to adopt the ARM ecosystem.
Gelsinger just said that Intel, which is ramping up a foundry business to manufacture chips for other companies based on their designs, will court Apple as a customer. The age of the Intel Mac might not be over just yet.
— Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken) March 23, 2021
To make the transition smooth, Apple offered the Rosetta 2 emulation tool that allowed the M1 Macs to run applications coded for x86 systems powered by Intel chips. But Apple is not the only major client moving away from x86 architecture, as more names in the PC segment such as Samsung are now embracing the trend of always-on, always-connected PCs that rely on Qualcomm chips.
Now, this is where things get interesting. Just a few days ago, the chipmaker launched a campaign that had multiple ads featuring actor Justin Long, pointing to shortcomings of the Mac ecosystem. The company also targeted the M1 chip and how it is inferior to its own processors when it comes to PC gaming. Last month, Intel also pointed to the M1 disadvantages via a Twitter campaign.
Currently, Apple relies on TSMC to make its in-house chips that go inside the new and upcoming Macs as well as iPhones and iPads. But with Intel also trying to make inroads in the ARM chip market, it won’t be surprising to see Apple diversify its supply chain portfolio – assuming the head honchos at Apple forget about Intel’s fresh anti-Mac assault.
Your turn, Apple!