Former Intel engineer sheds light on Apple’s decision to design its own chips – BGR

  • A former Intel engineer claims that quality control issues with Intel’s SkyLake processors convinced Apple to design its own desktop chips.
  • Apple later this year will begin shipping Macs with ARM-based chips.
  • The move from Intel silicon to Apple will be a two-year transition, according to Tim Cook.

Earlier this week, Apple confirmed that future Macs will feature Apple’s silicon instead of Intel-based processors. The transition away from Intel, which Apple classified as “historic,” will take around two years and will start with new Macs hitting stores later this year.

Apple’s transition to ARM-based chips can be attributed to two factors. For starters, it’s no secret that Apple has long preferred to own as much of the underlying technology in its products as possible. And since Apple has been designing best-in-class chips for the iPhone for years, Apple-designed chips in the company’s Mac line were possibly inevitable.

Another factor behind Apple’s decision is that the company was simply fed up with Intel. Even before rumors arose that Apple was abandoning Intel for ARM-based chips, there were a number of cases where Apple was forced to delay Mac releases due to delays in chip development at Intel. Some models, with the iMac as a prime example, would sometimes linger without a significant upgrade for years.

In light of the second factor, an Intel engineer named Francois Piednoel recently spoke PC Gamer and revealed that problems associated with Intel’s SkyLake family of processors finally convinced Apple that it needed to explore other options. If you remember, Macs with SkyLake processors launched in 2015 after several highly publicized delays. According to Piednoel, Intel’s SkyLake processors were not only released later than anticipated, but were also prone to all sorts of bugs that Apple discovered during the development process.

“Skylake’s quality assurance was more than a problem,” said Piednoel. “It was abnormally bad. We were getting too many appointments for little things within Skylake. Basically our friends at Apple became the main archiver of problems in architecture. And that was very, very bad.

“When your client begins to find almost as many mistakes as you do,” added Piednoel, “you are not driving to the right place.”

As Piednoel explains, the problems associated with SkyLake proved to be a “tipping point” for Apple.

Again, the first Apple’s own silicon Macs will arrive later this year. The MacBook Pro and a new iMac (perhaps with a new design) are rumored to be the first Macs to ship with ARM-based chips.

As for existing Intel-based Macs, Tim Cook noted that macOS will continue to be compatible with Intel machines for years to come.

Longtime Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry in general for over 6 years. Her writing has appeared on Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and more recently, TUAW. When not writing and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni likes to watch Improv shows in Chicago, play soccer, and cultivate new addictions to television shows, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.