Apple Inc. (AAPL) Next Macbook Air Unlikely to Feature iPad-like ARM Processor

Next MacBook Air iPad Like

Many claims of an ARM based MacBook Air have been floating around the web since early last year, suggesting that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is looking to move away from Intel’s processors to something a little bit more unorthodox in desktop and laptop computers.

The ARM processor is the same one used in AAPL’s current iPhone 4S and iPad 2, which use far less power than the average processor and handles memory and app switching without many glitches or errors.

The ARM processor in next Macbook Air could possibly reduce power-requirements, but could experience a severe drop in computing power. CNet reported on a recent interview with Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer on Thursday by Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner who addressed the issue regarding an ARM based Macbook Air.

Tim Cook reiterated his view that rapid innovation on the iOS platform (and mobile OS platforms in general) will significantly broaden the use case for tablets, eventually pushing annual tablet volumes above those of traditional PCs. We have wondered whether Apple might offer an ARM-based version of MacBook Air at some point; we walked away from this meeting with the impression that Apple feels iPad satisfies–or will soon satisfy–the needs of those who might have been interested in such a product.

With Gardner’s claims gaining attention around the web and his meetings with Apple executives being taken very seriously, it is safe to say that the iPad will eventually evolve and adapt to handle many functions that the proposed ARM based Macbook Air could.

Rumors since early last year have suggested that the iPad will be gaining a significant upgrade in the coming months. The iPad 3 is expected to receive a higher resolution display, a new A6 chip, and better cameras and is slated for release later this year.

4 Comments on “Apple Inc. (AAPL) Next Macbook Air Unlikely to Feature iPad-like ARM Processor”

  1. Qubo5118

    going from intel core i series to ARM is like going from cruise missiles to artillery shells. Apple would never do it. Only incentive would be price margin, which  apple has a lot already. They would never risk breaking a great product. Remember those core 2 duo Macbook airs and lacked popularity? Now the Core i series fixed it. Why would they “unfix” it by going with a much less powerful processor? We have iPad if you 1. need less processing power, 2. want to spend less. 

      1. Qubo5118

        Processor speed can be deceiving on paper. Two processors with same 2.3ghz speed but different architecture could result in different benchmarks. For example, AMD 6 core chip has roughly same benchmark score of Intel quad core chip. ARM chip does use less energy but is also slower core per core compare to intel chips. This is why ARM is really popular in mobile applications. Many android phones, TVs use ARM processors since it doesn’t require a lot of computing power.

        In regard to this article, the rumor is that Apple’s in house designed A5/A6 processor will be put into Macbook Air. A5 is designed to power iOS devices, not a full fledged OS X Lion. If you think about doing light photoshop work on a Macbook Air, word processing, while browsing the web, it will become apparent that A5 is not sufficient for these type of applications. It was designed to run a table with iOS.

        From marketing point of view, iPad is designed to compete with netbooks (which it did successfully). A5 chip powered iPads won over intel Atom powered netbooks. One very reason is that cheaper processor can not power full OS such as Windows 7 correctly. If you ever used a Windows 7 netbook, you will know what I mean. This is why many netbooks were released with windows XP, an OS from 2003. 

        If Apple used A5 in high end ultra thin note books, then people will either buy Macbook Pro with Core i series chip, or PC notebooks. 

        While we are on this topic, there are rumors that AMD chips will be used on some Apple products. I highly doubt it. I have been building desktop computers for a few years and I have used both chips. AMD has been a price alternative but when it comes down to it, AMD is definitely more resource hungry and less efficient. One of the PC I built based on AMD quad core is noticeably less smooth compared to intel quad core chip when it comes to more demanding operations. However it was acceptable since AMD was cheaper. 

        In order for Apple to use AMD they will have to rewrite the now very stable OSX Lion and really take a risk on stability and performance. Not happening soon. 

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