A recent rumor that Apple will ditch Intel for ARM for its laptops and PCs might actually make sense, say analysts.
The report comes from blog SemiAccurate which says Apple is going to ditch Intel for ARM based chips for its laptops and PCs. SemiAccurate says it won't happen anytime soon, but it is a done deal. The site says Apple will hold out until ARM chips can reach 64-bit capabilities, possibly coinciding with the release of Nvidia's Project Denver Chip, which uses the architecture.
To date, Apple has had two separate processor architectures for laptops/PCs and smartphones/tablets/mp3 players. For the latter, Apple has used the ARM-based chips, since they traditionally use less power, which is why they've been adopted in many of the aforementioned gadgets. For PCs and laptops, Apple has used the Intel x86 architecture.
While many in the industry are dismissing this as another crazy Apple rumor, some analysts believe it is not too farfetched. Brian Marshall, analyst at Gleacher & Company, said it's likely Apple is at least testing out ARM-based chips for its next operating system.
I think everyone is looking at what makes the most sense from a processing standpoint. I'm sure everyone is messing with notebooks that use the ARM architecture. I think Google Chrome based laptops are looking at that. I think Apple has to look at its options and determine what's feasible. The speculation looking at this is certainly valid, Marshall said.
Rob Enderle, veteran tech analyst of the The Enderle Group, also said he believes Apple is at least testing out an OS running on an ARM-based chip. He said it would likely be similar to what Microsoft did with its preview of Windows 8 running on an ARM-based chip back at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
He says Apple's belief in consistency is one major reason why this could become a reality. Apple likes consistency; they are planning on creating a single operating system across their PCs, tablets and phones, rather than a derivative. That would indicate they would want to go to same tech. With Microsoft and Windows exploring ARM, that would suggest ARM is going PC at some point, so it would seem likely because ARM likes consistency.
However, Enderle says it could come down to Apple's relationship with Intel. One thing that could throw a kink into the future Apple-ARM relationship for PCs and laptops is the new Tri-Gate transistor. The transistor, unveiled this week, is processed with 22 nanometer technology has 37 percent more performance than its predecessors while using less power.
I think it will come down to the strength of Apple's relationship with Intel. If anything, this rumor could serve as a wakeup call for Intel, Enderle said.
Follow Gabriel Perna on Twitter at @GabrielSPerna