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+ - Apple, ARM, and Intel

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Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Jean-Louis Gassée writes that Apple and Samsung are engaged in a knives-out smartphone war but when it comes to chips, the two companies must pretend to be civil because Samsung is the sole supplier of ARM-based processors for the iPhone. So why hasn’t Intel jumped at the chance to become Apple’s ARM source? "The first explanation is architectural disdain," writes Gassée. "Intel sees “no future for ARM“, it’s a culture of x86 true believers. And they have a right to their conviction: With each iteration of its manufacturing technology, Intel has full control over how to improve its processors." Next is pride. Intel would have to accept Apple’s design and “pour” it into silicon — it would become a lowly “merchant foundry“. Intel knows how to design and manufacture standard parts, but it has little experience manufacturing other people’s custom designs or pricing them. But the most likely answer to the Why Not Intel question is money. Intel meticulously tunes the price points for its processors to generate the revenue that will fund development. Intel’s published prices range from a “low” $117 for a Core i3 processor to $999 for a top-of-the-line Core i7 device. Compare this to iSuppli’s estimate for the cost of the A6 processor: $17.50. Even if more A6 chips could be produced per wafer — an unproven assumption — Intel’s revenue per A6 wafer start would be much lower than with their x86 microprocessors. In Intel’s perception of reality, this would destroy the business model. "For all of Intel’s semiconductor design and manufacturing feats, its processors suffer from a genetic handicap: They have to support the legacy x86 instruction set, and thus they’re inherently more complicated than legacy-free ARM devices, they require more transistors, more silicon. Intel will argue, rightly, that they’ll always be one technological step ahead of the competition, but is one step enough for x86 chips to beat ARM microprocessors?""
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Apple, ARM, and Intel

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