Intel hasn't just been annoying Microsoft this week; the chip company has also been admitting quite how valuable Apple's roadmap is, and how much it shapes Intel's own product plans. "Apple helps shape our roadmap" senior Intel VP Tom Kilroy told Reuters, "they push us hard." That reliance could be under threat, according to reports earlier this month that Apple was planning a switch to ARM processors for its mainstream notebook line, though Kilroy is quick to dismiss it as unfounded.
"Go look at the performance of those platforms" the VP suggested. "They're taking our latest and high-end end versions of second-generation core, and ARM doesn't even come close to any capability there." Still, ARM licensees - of which Apple is one - might argue that the low-power chips are fast catching up, with 64-bit cores like NVIDIA's Project Denver promising supercomputer-style speed.
Kilroy couldn't confirm how long Intel would be Apple's chip provider of choice for MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac Pro machines, saying that was for the Cupertino company itself to announce.
Instead, Intel is looking to the success of products like the ARM-based iPad to help educate its own processor plans. The company expects to have its chips inside smartphones in early 2012, while Cedar Trail/Oak Trail tablets and smartbooks are also incoming. Meanwhile, "Silvermont" Atom architecture has also been unveiled recently, a new SoC expected to reach the market in 2013 and building on the 22nm 3D Tri-Gate transistor processes.