No bridges burned: Intel wants to produce Apple's future ARM-based processors after releasing anti-Mac ad campaign
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Intel’s troubles with the fabrication nodes, shortages and product delays have forced key customers like Apple to reconsider their business models and essentially look for partnerships with other silicon suppliers. Apple’s current plan is to gradually drop Intel’s processors from all Mac devices and equip them with its new M processors that are fabricated by TSMC. The M1 chip integrated in last year’s MacBooks is enjoying a mostly positive reception, and Apple intends to continue improving this line of processors thanks to a newly-struck deal with TSMC that ensures development beyond the upcoming 2 nm nodes. Intel did not take this too well, and recently started attacking Apple’s M1-powered devices in an ad campaign that employs former “I’m a Mac” actor Justin Long. Quite the irony there with Long’s inclusion, but even more ironic seem Intel’s plans to possibly regain Apple as a customer with the new Intel Foundry Services initiative that is part of the grand IDM 2.0 strategy freshly announced by Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger.
After all those production problems with its own chips, Intel is now ready to dedicate foundry capacity for certain fabless companies in the U.S. and Europe through two new facilities in Arizona. During the Intel Unleashed webcast, Gelsinger name-dropped Apple as a potential customer and Intel is even prepared to implement non-x86 architectures if need be: “IFS will be differentiated from other foundry offerings with a combination of leading-edge process technology and packaging, committed capacity in the U.S. and Europe, and a world-class IP portfolio for customers, including x86 cores as well as ARM and RISC-V ecosystem IPs.”
This suggests Intel is willing to help Apple diversify its supply chain that now heavily relies on TSMC. Apple already has an agreement with TSMC to develop and produce ARM-based chips, but production allocations could become problematic since TSMC also has other major customers like AMD, Qualcomm and soon even Nvidia. That said, we are not exactly sure how Intel is going to match TSMC’s 3 nm or 2 nm nodes.
These plans do not really make too much sense when Intel just released that anti-Mac ad campaign complete with a site that points out the differences between PCs and Macs. Intel is keen on highlighting certain “facts” regarding the inferiority of the new Apple devices, like no one really games on Macs, or the port selection is not that diverse, plus there is no touchscreen support. So what is it going to be, Intel? Are we burning bridges or are we just dismissing all those ads as a healthy dose of banter and ultimately help the competition?