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Intel CPU woes forced Apple to design own processor claims ex-employee

(Image credit: Future)

It appears that Apple’s decision to develop its own ARM-based processor for Macs and MacBooks was due in part to Intel’s well-documented struggles with its Skylake CPUs a few years back.

The claim comes from former Intel principal engineer François Piednoël (as reported by PC Gamer), who claims that the "bad quality assurance of Skylake" solidified Apple’s decision to use its own silicon, which the company finally confirmed at its WWDC event.

Apple having complete control over both the hardware and software of its Macs and MacBooks, as it does with its iPhones and iPads (which run on Apple-designed chips) makes a lot of sense, and was something the company had been considering for some time; however, according to Piednoël, Intel’s issues with its Skylake processors are what finally made Apple decide to part ways (at least, partially) with the chip-maker.

Spilling the beans

According to Piednoël, the quality assurance of Skylake was “abnormally bad. We were getting way too much citing for little things inside Skylake”, and “Apple became the number one filer of problems in the architecture. And that went really, really bad”.

While this is just the view of a single ex-Intel employee, what they're saying does make sense. After all, if a processor is causing Macs and MacBooks to encounter issues, Apple’s customers are going to start blaming Apple – and that wouldn’t have gone down well.

Last year we also saw Apple blaming Intel’s processor shortage for slump in Mac sales, and at the time we thought that could make Apple more keen to come up with its own chips, rather than relying on a third party.

That, along with Piednoël’s claim that the Skylake problems were “where the Apple guys who were always contemplating to switch… looked at it and said: ’Well, we've probably got to do it’,” hints at Apple’s interest in moving to its own ARM-based chips.

Again, though, this is all the opinion of one ex-employee. It’s also worth noting that when Apple announced it was developing its own chips, CEO Tim Cook stressed that the company was “very excited“ about future Intel-based devices.

For its part, Intel has told us that “Apple is a customer across several areas of business, and we will continue to support them.“

Matt Hanson

Senior Computing editor

Matt (Twitter) is TechRadar's Senior Computing editor. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. If you're encountering a problem or need some advice with your PC or Mac, drop him a line on Twitter.