Yes, ARM-powered Apple Macs are inevitable

Posted by Trent Nouveau

Reports of Apple ditching Intel x86 chips for more power efficient ARM-based Macs have been circulating for years now. 

Although most believe such a move is inevitable, many industry watchers don't think the transformation from x86 to RISC architecture will happen overnight for Cupertino.

Indeed, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said Apple will likely take some time to optimize its desktop-oriented Mac OS X operating system for the ARM processors currently found in the Cupertino's flagship iPad and iPhone.

As Wu notes, Intel processors are currently (indisputably) much more powerful and capable of running intensive Mac applications.

Nevertheless, Wu, along with other analysts, estimates that ARM processors will ultimately become powerful enough to replace Santa Clara's chips. Of couse, swapping x86 for ARM will also help to streamline Apple's entire product line - both for mainstream users and developers.  

Clearly, any potential Apple switch to ARM processors would pose a major problem for Intel. As Evercore Partners analyst Patrick Wang points out, if the above-mentioned reports are true, they would also represent a major industry shift. 

"[Intel chips] are much more powerful for running compute-intensive Mac applications and for development... We believe this is a challenge to Intel to deliver stronger battery life. [Nevertheless], the industry implications [of such a switch] would be much more significant than the lost dollars," Wang told MarketWatch.

"[Still], I think it would be several years before Apple could switch from Intel to [its] own ARM-based Ax chips, currently A6X. But if true, it would definitely be an epic event in PC history and perhaps mark an inflection in the ongoing battle between Intel and ARM. "