updated 04:10 pm EDT, Thu August 11, 2011
Pressure responsible for wave of ultrabooks
Apple recently threatened to drop Intel processors if power consumption in the latter's hardware didn't improve, Intel ultrabook director Greg Welch tells the Wall Street Journal. The information has emerged as part of an article on Intel's new $300 million Ultrabook Fund. The Apple ultimatum was made sometime before May, when Intel announced that it was planning to cut average power consumption from between 35 and 40W to just 15W. Lower draw is essential to ultrabook specifications.
Battery life is also a major concern for Apple, since the company regularly touts longevity as a feature of MacBooks. Intel, meanwhile, has in the past been accused of designing chips that are powerful, but impractical for the mobile realm due to how much more energy they use versus the likes of ARM processors. The Apple A5 chip in the iPad 2 uses an ARM-based design and leaves the tablet with approximately 10 hours of battery life on a full charge.
Nevertheless, any threat of switching away from Intel would have been a long-term prospect at best. Mac OS X is not built to support ARM technology; although iOS is founded on the Mac OS codebase, bringing ARM support back in the opposite direction would have required a major rewrite. Apple could conceivably switch to AMD processors in a much faster timeframe, but the company has shown little inclination toward using more than AMD video cards.