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Apple ‘unleashes’ itself from Intel

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Intel and Apple’s relationship has been on the rocks for a decade, but Tim Cook signed the divorce papers on Monday by signalling the end of Apple’s relationship with the chipmaker for its laptops in the unveiling of new MacBooks to be powered by in-house chips.

In an event pointedly called ‘Unleashed’, Apple showed how its own chips far outperformed Intel’s in terms of both speed and energy efficiency.

Intel’s CEO Pat Gelsinger, in an interview with the Axios news website yesterday, conceded that “Apple decided they could do a better chip themselves than we could. And, you know, they did a pretty good job. So what I have to do is create a better chip than they can.”

Apple’s relatively small share in the computer market makes the divorce proceedings a little less painful for Intel. According to IDC, Apple had 7.6 per cent of global PC shipments in 2020, behind Lenovo (24 per cent), HP (22.4 per cent) and Dell Technologies (16.6 per cent). 

It has taken Apple a decade since launching its first iPhone chip to create a processor capable of displacing Intel from its high-end laptops, and Apple spends considerably more on R&D than other computer companies.

But it is nevertheless a blow to the prestige of Intel, which appointed Gelsinger at the start of this year to turn around its fortunes after dropping behind its rivals TSMC and Samsung in the race to produce leading-edge chips. Revenues at Intel’s data centre business have also dipped in the first two quarters of this year.

Analysts will be waiting to see what Gelsinger has to say about the turnround on Thursday, and then at Intel’s investor day on November 18.

The Internet of (Five) Things

1. Tokyo issues stark semiconductor warning
Japan’s semiconductor industry is doomed to irrelevance unless the government matches the long-term strategic visions being laid out in the US and China, the newly installed minister for economic security has warned. Takayuki Kobayashi told the Financial Times that Japan had historically failed to identify the essential technologies that the country’s broad-based industrial economy should protect and promote to ensure it remained “indispensable” to the wider world.

2. Musicians playing for pennies
The UK competition watchdog will launch a review of the domestic music market to address concerns about the power of big music labels and whether money is flowing from streaming platforms to performers.

3. Zopa raises pre-IPO fundraising win
British digital bank Zopa has raised £220m in a funding round ahead of plans to list in London next year. The deal, led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, reflects Zopa’s changing fortunes as it has transitioned away from purely offering peer-to-peer lending to increasingly providing banking services. The company’s chief executive told the FT that the capital raised allows Zopa to be more flexible with the timing of its initial public offering which it plans to launch in London.

4. Banque de France’s crypto trial
France has used digital assets and blockchain technology in a series of bond transactions, marking one of the most significant trials to date of cryptocurrencies in a leading established market. A consortium of the country’s biggest financial market participants used a digital currency issued by the Banque de France as part of the 10-month experiment in the country’s debt market.

5. Tether’s bitcoin-backed lending clashes with dollar promise
Celsius Network, a big customer of Tether, has said the company lends out new stablecoins in return for cryptocurrencies — a claim that calls further into question Tether’s founding promise that it uses only real dollars to issue its tokens.

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Tom Faber reviews Nintendo’s game ‘Metroid Dread’, a revival of its series launched in 1986 about a female galactic bounty hunter. The game has impressive visual features and cutting-edge graphic design but Faber finds that in the 11 years since the game’s last release other designers have innovated and elevated Metroid’s blueprint — combining contiguous 2D maps and gameplay while juggling tense combat with exploration — and left him feeling short-changed with this latest offering. ‘Metroid Dread’ is out now worldwide on Nintendo Switch, priced $60/£40.

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