WWDC 2016. Intel, like Microsoft, have continued to their inability to capture any piece of the mobile pie. Both companies are far from “circling the drain” as parts of the Apple tech press will like to claim, but both are a mere shadow of their former selves. So why is the Intel CEO on stage with Phil Schiller?
Phil starts reminding everyone that OS X (and thus iOS too) are platform agnostic. He reminds us that the iOS Simulator has always run x86 versions of apps rather than emulating arm architecture. Everyone’s getting nervous. Intel still hasn’t impressed anyone with their Atom processors. Their integrated GPUs have only recently become considered adequate for 1080p gaming as 4K/2160p TVs break under the $2000 barrier.
“Today we have the honor of previewing Intel’s next generation of mobile processors – All Apple Exclusives. This truly represents the next giant leap.”
One of two things is about to be announced.
Possibility One: iOS on x86
In a leap of engineering more astounding than transitioning from Pentium to Core processors, Intel has “cut the [legacy] crap” from x86 to create a backward incompatible processor that thanks for Intel’s superior fabrication blows Apple’s ARM chips out of the water performance wise 4 to 1 at the same power consumption and a quarter of the physical size. This is by all definitions an x86 processor, but you’ll never jailbreak legacy versions of x86 operating systems onto it. Today this processor will be in a Mac Mini and retina 11″ MacBook Air – not Pro – Air. “Tomorrow” (Fall) it will be in iOS devices.
Possibility Two: ARM: by Intel
Coming off of a bad quarterly report, Intel has made a tough decision. Apple is about to announce a developer transition machine. It runs OS X on ARM, but it’s designed and fabbed by Intel. Apple’s A10, already considered a generation ahead of Samsung’s ARM processors, is now obsoleted by Intel’s ARM chip, fabricated using a die size two generations ahead of Apple and Samsung – and Apple has bought out all of Intel’s ability to make it. Apple devices from now on have twice the battery and half the thickness of competitors at the same time – starting with the impossibly thin retina 11″ ARM MacBook Air and a 5 watt Apple TV sized (maybe not even as tall) ARM Mac mini which Phil will take out of his pocket.
So which is more likely? My money is on the latter.