Rumor: Intel in Discussions to Produce Apple Chips

Illustration for article titled Rumor: Intel in Discussions to Produce Apple Chips

Reuters is reporting that Intel has been in rather unlikely discussions that could pave the way for the processor giant producing chips to Apple specifications.

A source "close to one of the companies" claims that executives from both Apple and Intel have met over the past year to discuss the idea of Intel making chips on a contract manufacturing basis. That would mean that Intel used its foundries to create chips designed to Apple's own specifications.

The idea of contracting chip manufacturing to Intel might be positive for Apple, given it currently has the awkward misfortunate of relying on Samsung for its mobile silicon. It's less clear what Intel would gain from the move: while it would pull in extra cash, the idea seems at odds with the company's desires to push its own chips for use in mobile devices.That said, Intel announced last month that it was to start producing chips for Altera—its first sizable contract manufacturing gig—so it's clearly something that the company's game for.

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How accurate the rumors of an Intel-Apple love-in are remain, of course, to be seen. But if it is set to happen, it'll all be overseen by Intel's next, unannounced CEO; current chief Paul Otellini jumps ship in May. [Reuters via Verge]

Image by Sh4rp_i under Creative Commons license

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DISCUSSION

It makes sense given the fact that a significant percentage of Intels fabrication capacity remains idle. I wonder if Apple would be getting the newest 22nm fabs though, as even Intels own Atom SoCs don't have the privilege to that yet. Anything older (32nm) wouldn't be a huge jump from the fab processes others are using already. Or maybe by the time this happens Intel will have switched the Atoms to 22nm too anyways and everything will go that way.

I wonder though, if eventually Intels own chip designs outstrip anything anyone else is making by far, if Apple would bother keeping putting money into R&D of chips when a switch to the Intel SoCs would be faster, better performing, and perhaps cheaper in the long run.