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Apple reportedly mulling move away from Intel as the PC and tablet markets converge

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Apple's last major desktop computing hardware shift came in 2005 when it announced it would start producing computers running on Intel-based hardware, but now the company is reportedly considering manufacturing its own desktop chips for the Macs of the future. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple believes its mobile chips will soon be powerful enough to power the Mac platform, particularly as mobile devices and "traditional" PCs continue to converge. This echoes another Bloomberg Businessweek report from early October which claimed a similar shift was coming; it's not clear if today's report uses the same anonymous sources who reported this earlier in the year.

Either way, there's a lot of reasons to believe such a claim. While a move away from Intel would be a massive undertaking, it's a transition that Apple has experience with — its move from PowerPC processors to Intel went about as smoothly as anyone could have expected, though support for older machines and software was eventually cut off. At the time, it was revealed that Apple had been secretly building versions of OS X to run on Intel hardware for nearly all of the OS's development lifecycle — and it's entirely possible that Apple is similarly building versions of its desktop software to run on future, Apple-designed chipsets.

Ditching Intel may help Apple unify future products

That said, it's also worth noting that Apple has spent time in the past on product prototypes and strategy shifts that it ultimately abandons — just look at the MacBook Pro 3G that was found on eBay last year, or the rumored AMD-powered MacBook Air that some AMD employees discussed earlier in 2012. Still, a shift towards a unified platform makes a lot of sense from both a software and hardware perspective. Thus far, Apple has kept the Mac OS X operating system fairly distinct from its iOS mobile platform (aside from some shared features and inspiration). Microsoft, however, is using Windows 8 to unify the user experience across mobile, tablets, and more traditional computers. Bloomberg's sources indicated that unification will be a big part of this potential transition — having a seamless experience across all types of devices would be aided by having the same underlying hardware in all cases. As much as there's a good deal of logic behind this report, this type of transition will likely take several years at least, so fear not — your Intel software should run fine for the foreseeable future.

The Verge
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