Apple Knocked Intel Chips due to Inflexibility and Low Power Efficiency, Says Steve Jobs Biography

October 26, 2011, By Leo Xavier

The last time we talked about Steve Jobs’ biography was when the book gave a hint about the possibility of an upcoming Apple HDTV. Now the book has revealed some facts about Apple’s past decisions.

According to Walter Isaacson’s biography, Steve Jobs had issues with Intel as a company as well as its world-renowned chips.

Apple decided to go with their own A series chips in its iPhone and iPad, instead of Intel’s chip design.


As you might know, a few years back Apple dropped IBM’s and Motorola’s PowerPC processors and elected to go with Intel’s X86 chip design. Since then, the company’s MacBooks and Macs have been exclusively powered by Intel chips.

But the company decided to use internally-designed A series chips for its iPhone and iPad. Jobs explained to Isaacson about why Apple didn’t stick to Intel chips. According to Jobs, Intel wasn’t keeping up with the times

He told Isaacson, “There were two reasons we didn’t go with them. One was that they [the company] are just really slow. They’re like a steamship, not very flexible. We’re used to going pretty fast. Second is that we just didn’t want to teach them everything, which they could go and sell to our competitors.

While selecting the chips Jobs was also concerned about the fact that Intel’s chips were not power efficient, although fast.

At the high-performance level, Intel is the best. They build the fastest, if you don’t care about power and cost“, Jobs is quoted as saying.

According to the book, it was Tony Fadell, a senior vice president at Apple, who urged Apple to move to an alternative chip design.

He suggested a design from UK-based ARM, which, as you know, powers virtually all the smartphones and tablets around the globe. Apple ended up purchasing P.A. Semi, which resulted in Apple’s A4.

The author has also added Intel CEO Paul Otellini’s words on the matter: “It would have made sense for the iPad to use Intel chips. The problem…was that Apple and Intel couldn’t agree on price. Also, they disagreed on who would control the design.

But Intel definitely got the message from Jobs. Apple’s MacBook Air laptops are now powered by Intel’s most power-efficient Sandy Bridge processors. And the company is also working on a very power efficient chip dubbed “Haswell”, which is expected to debut in 2013. The upcoming chip is based on Intel’s X86 architecture.

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