When Apple moved to Intel processors back in 2005, it was a coming-out of sorts for the Mac OS X operating system. No longer forced to run on PowerPC processors built by Motorola and IBM, software availability bloomed, and the Mac platform became much stronger as a result. Now Bloomberg is reporting that Apple is looking for ways to replace the Intel processors it currently uses in its Mac computers with ARM-based processors, like it currently uses in the iPhone and iPad.
This isn’t as crazy as it seems: Apple’s been designing its own System-on-Chip (SoC) for the iPhone since March 2010 and in its most recent executive shakeup, the press release placed Bob Mansfield in charge of “Technologies” and said that his semiconductor teams have “ambitious plans for the future.” Plus, there are perpetual rumors that Apple’s got a MacBook somewhere in Cupertino running on an ARM processor. If the Mac platform ever moved away from Intel processors, it would be a big blow to the American semiconductor giant. On the other hand, there are numerous issues that this could cause for Apple’s normally stable-and-simple OS X: a decrease in performance, drivers that suddenly don’t work, and software rendered obsolete.
It’s probably safe to assume that Apple is in fact testing out Macs with ARM processors, but it won’t happen for a while.