Is Intel Making Apple's Next iPhone, iPad Chips?

The next chapter for an already beautiful union could be written soon.

Intel already powers Apple's Mac computers thanks to a historic changeover from IBM PowerPC chips in 2006, but now some analysis is hinting that in the future Intel will also be churning out chips for iPhones and iPads from its production lines. Business Insider notes that last week Intel said it would open up its plants to producing chips designed by other firms, specifically a company called Altera, and this has caused a bit of chatter about Apple.

Apple's Ax series of chips are an unusual play in the mobile tech world, because while they're ARM based they actually are a unique in-house design that's been optimized by Apple. The chips are produced elsewhere, though, because Apple doesn't own any such plants of its own and instead has to rely on firms like Samsung--which, as you may have heard, isn't the coziest of business relationships at the moment.

Intel is desperately trying to leverage its own-brand X86-architecture chips into mobile products. It missed the boat somewhat by over-relying on its Atom processors during the brief period of netbook popularity, and has seen its main PC chip business threatened by the arrival of the iPad-heralded "post-PC" era--with devices that mainly rely on chips designed by big rival ARM. There are strong rumors Apple will even use ARM-design chips in future Macs.

Can Intel challenge ARM in mobile devices? And would you tolerate an "Intel inside" sticker on your iPhone?

[Image: Flickr user DanGrebb]

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