For around a year now, Apple has been switching to its own M-family processors across the Mac range - starting with the M1-equipped Mac mini, MacBook Air and entry-level MacBook Pro in November 2020, and culminating most recently in the high-end MacBook Pros with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips announced last night. In the process the company has abandoned Intel's processors after 15 years of collaboration.
Intel responded to this abandonment by going on the offensive. In February of this year it released benchmarks purportedly showing that Apple's M1 was inferior to Intel's processors in several respects. (Macworld contributor Jason Snell, however, criticised these benchmarks for "inconsistent test platforms, shifting arguments, omitted data, and the not-so-faint whiff of desperation".)
This was part of a wider campaign called GoPC, which does everything it can to get customers to choose PCs over Macs, and isn't afraid to explicitly attack Apple along the way.
"The truth is that loyal Mac users may have unknowingly made trade-offs when it comes to their computers," the campaign argues. "Once we shed light on those trade-offs, that's when the real magic happens, and the choice is clear. The bottom line is that a PC with Intel inside is built for the user, and a PC can give users choices a Mac simply doesn't offer."
But Intel appears to be doing a bit of 'good cop, bad cop', because as well as attacking Apple it has been attempting to smooth the companies' relationship.
Most recently, in an interview with Axios, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger says the company still hopes to revive the partnership. He admits that Apple has done a good job with its M1 chips, and that this means the company will have to step up a gear if it is to win back the US electronics giant as a customer.
You can watch a clip from the interview here:
If Apple can't be persuaded to switch back to Intel chips, Gelsinger hopes it can at least take over production of Apple's own chips. Such a solution would be a major blow to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the company that makes most of Apple's processors today.
The likelihood of Apple abandoning its own chips is said to be almost nil, but it's not entirely out of the question that Intel could be put in charge of the manufacturing in the long run.