MacFormat UK|February 2022
The release of Apple silicon was a major blow for Intel. Charlotte Henry looks at where the chip giant goes next
Rumours had been swirling for a while that Apple would start producing its own chips for the Mac family and thus end its 15-year relationship with Intel. However, that did not make the announcement any less dramatic when it came in June 2020. A crucial chapter in the interlinked stories of two significant firms was coming to a close. We’ve seen the direction Apple is going, but the question remains – what’s next for Intel?

M1 positivity

That initial announcement was certainly exciting but relatively light on detail. In November 2020, we learned a lot more about what we now know as the M1 chip, and it has become increasingly apparent why this transition was so important for Apple (see MF360). Not only was the reaction to those first M1 machines hugely positive, but Apple has now doubled down, delivering the hugely powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs inside the latest MacBook Pros.

It is worth noting that many old, but widely in-use, Macs contain Intel chips. So do some in the current Mac line-up – the 27in iMac, the high-end Mac mini, and the super-powerful and super expensive Mac Pro. When first announcing Apple silicon, CEO Tim Cook spoke about a transition period, and the direction of travel from Apple is clear… those devices currently running on Intel chips will be phased out and replaced with Apple silicon versions.

The arrival of Apple silicon had a profound impact on Intel. Reports indicate that Apple’s move sent the company into something of a tailspin. “We have to deliver better products to the PC ecosystem than any possible thing that a lifestyle company in Cupertino” [makes], Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is said to have told staff. “We have to be that good, in the future.”

The company also hit back with unsubtle ads mocking the Mac and a website comparing PCs and Apple Macs. Trying to put a positive spin on it all, Gelsinger told Yahoo Finance Live, “So obviously you’ve seen some of the competitive energies [in chipmaking] resume because there’s a lot of great innovation to be done, and we haven’t seen PC demand at this level for a decade and a half. The world needs more of that, and there is competitive fun going on with Apple and the Mac ecosystem.”

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