In November 2020, Apple announced its own custom processors for its Mac lineup, called the M1. Since then, the company has been reducing its ties with US-based chipmaker Intel, in terms of its component supplies for its devices. Now, a new report by US-based e-commerce and services firm iFixit has revealed that starting with the M2 generation MacBook Air and Pro laptops unveiled earlier this month, Apple has completely removed any instance of Intel chips on its laptops.
The last Intel chip used in Apple’s laptops were USB 4 retimer chips — used to extend connectivity and data transfer through external ports across a device’s motherboard, and allow additional connectors to be used on devices. While Apple had so far been using Intel-made retimer chips on its laptops, it has now swapped the same for retimer chips built by an unnamed vendor.
According to reports, the move is likely a supply chain adjustment made by Apple to meet its shipment and cost requirements, so any statement on the matter is unlikely to arrive from either party. Apple and Intel, along with other companies such as HP, Microsoft and Texas Instruments, are among primary promoters of the USB 4 connectivity standard, which can achieve data transfer speeds and bandwidth of up to 40 gigabit per second.
Apple and Intel have seen their co-dependencies decline steadily over the past three years. In April 2019, Apple announced an agreement to a long-standing lawsuit with fellow US-based chipmaker Qualcomm, and moved to using the latter’s 5G modem on its iPhones. Prior to this, Apple had signed a partnership with Intel, sanctioning the latter to build 5G chips for its smartphones.
However, after multiple delays from Intel on its schedule for making 5G chips, the deal was eventually called off. At the same time when Apple and Qualcomm settled their lawsuit outside court, Intel drew curtains on its 5G modem business, and in July 2019, Apple announced a $1 billion acquisition of Intel’s 5G chip division.
Apple further reduced the use of Intel products with the transition to M1, and over the past two years, Apple has steadily moved its entire Mac lineup — as well as some of its iPads — to its custom M-series chips.
Going forward, it remains to be seen if Apple has entirely stopped using Intel chips across all its devices. Most major hardware manufacturers typically have more than one supplier for a component, which vary depending on geographies and available supplies. Intel might still be supplying USB chips to Apple for other devices but in varying quantities, given its primary promoter role with the USB 4 standard.