Apple is making big leaps in processor technology -- and Intel should be worried

Apple is close to matching Intel’s processing power and performance, according to an analysis by AnandTech.

The processor in the iPad Pro, the newest and most powerful tablet from Apple, is the A9X which is designed and made entirely in-house. This is important to note because as Apple becomes more and more proficient at making its own CPUs, it becomes less and less reliant on Intel.

According to AnandTech, Intel still has a slight edge but the gap is “closer than Intel would like [it] to be,” according to Joshua Ho, Brandon Chester, and Ryan Smith, who reviewed the iPad Pro.

Apple has been designing its own CPUs since the iPhone 4, which came with an Apple-made A4 chipset. The benefit for Apple is efficiency: It controls how the CPU is made and how it works, which, in turn, makes it easier to integrate with its products.

However, the MacBook range still uses Intel chips. The new Core M CPU, released in early 2015, powers the new 12-inch MacBook, for example. The performance difference between the MacBook and iPad Pro is noticeable, according to the review, but the gap is closing.

John Gruber, a well-respected Apple blogger, estimated that the iPad Pro was roughly as powerful as a two- or three-year-old MacBook Pro, which is impressive for a tablet that is 6.9mm thick.

Apple is rumoured to be looking elsewhere for the new MacBook chips, and has been for several years. ARM, another type of chipset, has long been rumoured to be a favourite for the MacBook Air because it uses little power.

Changing the type of processor that the Mac uses is a big task, however. Apps that are written for Intel machines — which is, essentially, all apps — would no longer work. Apple has weathered a similar change before, however, when it transitioned its computers from PowerPC to Intel in 2005.

Read the full review from AnandTech.

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