François Piednoël spent 20 years working at Intel as both a Principal Engineer and Performance Architect. Now, he’s decided to answer the question everyone is asking: Why did Apple decide to switch from Intel to ARM processors for the Mac?
As PCGamer reports, Piednoël offered his explanation in a rather unusual way. He recorded a 10-minute video discussing Apple’s decision while playing the flight simulator X-Plane. You can watch the video below:
Piednoël believes that Apple opted to switch to ARM because of Intel’s Skylake processors. More specifically, the quality assurance for Skylake chips was apparently terrible, with Piednoël (who was still at Intel during the Skylake days) explaining, “The quality assurance of Skylake was more than a problem … It was abnormally bad. We were getting way too much citing for little things inside Skylake. Basically our buddies at Apple became the number one filer of problems in the architecture. And that went really, really bad. When your customer starts finding almost as much bugs as you found yourself, you’re not leading into the right place.”
Apple is well-known for wanting to control as much of the manufacturing pipeline and supply chain as possible for its products, so you can imagine how frustrating buggy Intel processors were for the company, especially if it was Apple’s engineers doing Intel’s testing work for it. Piednoël believes the situation was so bad it acted as “the inflection point” and Apple decided to pursue what has become known as Apple Silicon as a consequence.
The Skylake microarchitecture first appeared in 2015, so ARM-based Mac hardware has clearly been in the research and development phase for a few years at Apple. It had to be in order to allow for such a huge shift to be embraced. Apple can’t launch an ARM MacBook Pro and not have it at least equal the Intel version on performance and compatibility. We’ll find out how well Apple Silicon performance later this year when the first ARM Mac is expected to appear.