When Apple switched to Intel chips back in 2006, reality almost imploded, and when Steve Jobs launched the iPad without an Intel microprocessor, you could almost feel the ripples through the time-space continuum. What you probably didn’t know, is that the iPad almost had an Intel chip under the hood.
And here’s the kicker: The guy responsible for putting the kibosh on an iPad-Intel deal? Not Steve Jobs. Shocking, I know.
The story’s in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, released earlier this week, and it pits Jobs against former Apple bigwig Tony Fadell, a Senior Vice President in the iPod division before he left Apple in 2010 to found a company that’s just released a “smart” digital thermostat.
According to Isaacson (via Wall Street Journal), Jobs wanted Intel’s low-power Atom processors in the iPad from the start, so much so that his pushing prompted Fadell—who wanted even lower-powered ARM-based chips in the tablet—to threaten resignation.
That led Jobs to do something uncharacteristic: He backed down. Apple went on to develop its own ARM-style chips, including the iPad’s A4, an ARM Cortex A8 plus a PowerVR GPU, and the iPad 2’s A5, based on an ARM Cortex A9 CPU and a PowerVR GPU.
In fact, Jobs goes on to criticize Intel in Isaacson’s book:
“There were two reasons we didn’t go with them,” says Jobs in the authorized biography. “One was that they are just really slow. They are like a steamship, not very flexible. We’re used to going pretty fast. Second is that we just didn’t want to teach them everything, which they could go and sell to our competitors.”
Intel CEO Otellini’s response (in the book)? The real reason’s that Apple and Intel couldn’t agree on chip pricing, or who’d have ultimate control of the chip design. And that’s something, if true, that should surprise no one.