Widely expected to announce a new line of Mac computers Tuesday morning at its latest “event,” Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) could very well ignite a new war over processors by doing so.
That’s the view of numerous pundits, who see the company’s announcement that it would power the devices with a proprietary chip as a possible opening shot in such a conflict. The company had been utilizing x86 chips from processor giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) since 2006; in June it announced that it would transition the full Mac line to its silicon chip in a two-year process.
In the heyday of the PC, Intel was a dominant player, in near-constant battle with the perennial runner-up, Advanced Micro Devices. However, new competitors have been entering the field in the age of the smartphone.
One potential big rival to Apple and Intel in this endeavor is mobile devices component maker Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). As with Apple’s announced plans, Qualcomm makes chips based on ARM architecture from the eponymous U.K. company that is set to be acquired by NVIDIA. Qualcomm co-developed processors with both AMD and Microsoft specifically to power the latter’s Surface line of laptop/tablet products.
Apple had pledged to contract a third-party manufacturer to produce the silicon chips. Speculation is rife that this will be Taiwan Semiconductor, although neither Apple nor the Asia-based chipmaker has yet confirmed this.
While Intel doesn’t have the prominence it once enjoyed in the processor world, its chips still power a great many of the world’s PCs, and it’s likely to remain a major player in the segment.