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Apple T310 ARM chip to handle low-power mode for MacBook

by Mark Tyson on 2 February 2017, 10:31

Tags: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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According to a report published by Bloomberg, Apple is designing an ARM-based processor that will handle some of its MacBook's low-power mode functionality. The processors, codenamed T310, will thus take over some of the processing which the machine's Intel CPU would have previously been taxed with. Apple computers have been using Intel CPUs for over a decade and there has recently been increased chitter-chatter about it moving to ARM-based processors, like it has used in its popular iPhones and iPads for the past 7 years.

Bloomberg reminds us that Apple's first ARM-based Mac chip, known as T1, was introduced as part of the MacBook Pro update last October. It is used to power the Touch Bar plus process some security and biometric data.

The new T310 processor will facilitate a more efficient 'Power Nap' mode than the Intel CPU can provide. In this connected sleep mode the Mac retrieves e-mails, installs software updates, and synchronizes calendar appointments, while it is otherwise 'off'. Thus the ARM-based T310 will have to connect to computer storage and wireless components to get its tasks done. Computers often spend a long time napping, between usage sessions, so any savings in efficiency in this mode are welcome.

Apple accounts for 7.5 per cent of the worldwide computer market, according to latest quarterly figures from IDC. Bloomberg notes that Intel shares were down slightly and Apple shares rose over 6 per cent yesterday in the wake of the above ARM T310 chip news. However, Apple's shares could be just continuing the rally following its better than expected results two days ago.

It will be interesting to watch the speed of Apple's progress in shifting away from Intel processors in its computers. By summer we will likely see quite a few examples of Microsoft's Qualcomm-powered 'Cellular PCs', which might point the way for Apple.

HEXUS Forums :: 3 Comments

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Hm. So they're essentially doing the same as Sony did with the PS4 and MS did with the Xbone? Both have low-power ARM chips (with a whole discrete OS!) that run low-power tasks (downloads and updates while sleeping, that kind of thing). At least with the PS4, this chip serves double duty as the soutbridge, lending most of its I/O to the main SoC. Wonder if Apple will have to do something similar - if they want the chip to have access to WiFi, storage and the like, I don't know how else this could be done.
intel's slow progress (due to lack of competition) probably made the guys in apple tired.
They need reasons to sell new computers and intel is not delivering.

I wonder what impact (if it had any) we will see with the release of ryzen.
intel's slow progress (due to lack of competition) probably made the guys in apple tired.
They need reasons to sell new computers and intel is not delivering.

True, but Apple positions itself as a premium technology company so it's not surprising their customers expect them to do rather more than just upgrade the CPU & GPU each time.

While Intel haven't advanced much on ultimate desktop single-core performance, they have made big improvements in performance per watt, so there's still significant progress at least for Apple's MacBook line.