Intel has a new CEO, as you probably noticed, and Pat Gelsinger has firmly set out his stall to begin with – with Apple apparently very much in his sights.
As Apple Insider (opens in new tab) reports, Gelsinger told Intel staff: “We have to deliver better products to the PC ecosystem than any possible thing that a lifestyle company in Cupertino makes. We have to be that good, in the future.”
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The reference to Apple as a ‘lifestyle company’ is a telling one, and the statement can certainly be read as an indication that Gelsinger is serious about shaking things up at Intel.
In recent times Apple has made big waves with its M1 chip which has been very well-received and is quite a remarkable piece of engineering. The M1 will replace all Intel chips in MacBooks over a two-year transitional period – which has already begun – so in that respect it’s no doubt a doubly sore point for Intel.
Perhaps above all, the M1 has been heralded as seriously innovative, and it’s in that department that Intel needs to shine again.
Intel does have something up its sleeve, though, in terms of a big change in the form of Alder Lake. These 12th-gen CPUs – which will arrive later in 2021, or that’s the plan, to follow next-gen Rocket Lake desktop processors – do things very differently, employing a model of two different core types (full power ones, accompanied by low-power ‘little’ cores to run the show much more power-efficiently in less demanding scenarios).
If that sounds familiar, it’s because this is the way that ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture is built. And the M1, of course, is an ARM-based chip (of Apple’s own design). Indeed, ARM’s CEO has recently been arguing that ARM silicon is on the verge of making a challenge to the dominant PC powers (namely Intel and AMD).
At any rate, Intel has already promised that Alder Lake will be a ‘significant’ breakthrough. Although if Intel is looking towards Cupertino, Apple won’t be standing still either – and big things are already expected of the M1’s successor, going by the rumor mill.
Gelsinger was VMware’s chief executive and will replace Intel’s CEO Bob Swan when he steps down in mid-February.
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