This should come as no surprise and it makes a whole lot of since, so much since in fact that we can’t understand why it hasn’t happened yet. Well that’s not true, we do know why it hasn’t happened yet and that all has to do with money but still. Apple’s current gen of chips in its “A” series were designed by Apple and manufactured by Samsung. They are good, but they do have significant shortcomings. The main issue is they are manufactured using the now very dated 45 nanometer (nm) architecture that while sufficient is way behind what the major chip makers are doing. To put that into context, Intel and AMD were putting 45nm chips into PCs back in…2008.
The current A5X processor that is in the iPad 3 is what’s known as a SoC or system-on-a-chip, it combines a dual-core CPU at 1 GHz and a quad-core PowerVR SGX543MP4 GPU into a single package. Nice right. The problem is that Intel and AMD can surpass those specs and that performance in their sleep, but they are chip makers and that’s what they do. This really has to happen since it seems to be getting harder and harder for Samsung to keep the chip small, the current A5X chip is 310% larger than the previous A4 processor that was in the original iPad. In actual terms it’s still really small, but for a company who prides themselves on continuing to make things thinner and slimmer, increasing component size isn’t so great. There is also a functional problem, bigger means it gets hotter and sucks up more power.
And that’s where Intel could come in. Its current line of Ivy Bridge processors is built using 22 nanometer architecture and the company plans to have mobile processors based on this size by next year, with a 14 nanometer architecture coming in 2014. In fact, Intel already has a mobile processor based on the Medfield 32 nanometer architecture, called the Atom Z2460, which runs at 1.6GHz.
If we hold Intel CEO, CEO Paul Otellini to his word that “Our job is to ensure our silicon is so compelling… in terms of running Mac better or being a better iPad device, that as they [Apple] make those decisions they can’t ignore us” then this just might come true. This deal can get done if both sides are willing to make some concessions, specifically Apple can’t try to get the ridiculously low prices that they currently demand for their component makers and Intel needs to agree to a slightly bigger discount than they might want to take.
So what do you think, will we ever see an iPad with that familiar ‘Intel Inside’ sticker on it? Hit up the comments and leave your thoughts.