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Intel admits that it looks to Apple for its processor roadmap

Steve Jobs leads the way
Thu May 19 2011, 11:18

CHIPMAKER Intel has said that it looks to Apple when it comes to deciding its processor roadmap.

Tom Kilroy, SVP and general manager of Intel's sales and marketing group made the startling admission that "Apple helps shape our roadmap" at the Reuters Global Technology Summit yesterday. Kilroy said that Apple's products help Intel because it is "constantly looking down the road at what we can be doing relative to future products".

Kilroy's admission that Intel's processor roadmap is shaped by Apple is an interesting one, not least because it calls into question Intel's ability to analyse the market. Although Apple is a nice design win to have, firms such as Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo flog significantly more systems than Apple, and Intel's chips don't even feature in Apple's most popular products, the Iphone and the Ipad. It's likely that those firms will raise an eyebrow or two at Kilroy's comments, perhaps a bit miffed at the deference Intel shows to Apple.

When Kilroy was asked whether he thought Apple might start putting ARM-based chips into its Macintosh line of computers he said, "Go look at the performance of those platforms. They're taking our latest and high-end end versions of second-generation core, and ARM doesn't even come close to any capability there."

Apple might have chosen ARM architecture for its A4 and A5 chips found in the Iphone and Ipad, but it is highly unlikely that in the short to medium term Apple will up sticks once again and move Mac OS X to ARM. Although porting the operating system might not be too tricky, and after all IOS is a cut down version of Mac OS X, porting applications to a new architecture is a task that took Apple years to accomplish following its move from the PowerPC architecture to Intel's x86 chips.

Kilroy might have made the comments in a bid to keep Apple happy. After all, losing Apple's business would be bad for its image rather than its bottom line, but Apple's PC competitors could wonder why Intel doesn't consult them to design its future processors. µ


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