If Apple thinks Intel can deliver better ARM products than Samsung, and give Apple an edge over the crowded market then it will do it. Apple needs something like this. Either Samsung or Intel.
I don't think Intel would ever make low margin SoC/CPUs on the state of art process node if they didn't have a choice. I however, did hear CEO Otelleni say in 2006, that Intel's future is high volume, and process tech, and lower margins, not what they have been doing with HVM, but expensive CPUs. They could hope to make up the profits with more traditional Server/HPC CPUs for businesses and governments. Not really surprising, this idea is floated.
Intel would have to deliver a stunning x86 low voltage, higher performance SoC device to even be looked at as an ARM replacement. That seems unlikely with ATOM, even at 22nm.
It could be the turn of the events that will hit Samsung to oblivion. Yet, we have to ask if Intel should be everywhere. This is very scary to have Intel hold the hottest Apple in their hands. It consolidates that power - badly.
Apples challenge is to prevent its i-whatevers from turning into over-priced boutique products for its cultists, the same fate as the Macintosh after the Wintel juggernaut replicated the GUI of the Mac.
The ARM - Foundry ( TSMC / Samsung / Global F ) - Android OS combo is generic like WinTel, lower cost and already has a larger market share than iPhone. Many new / second tier companies in growth markets are using this platform.
Good to see that Intel is pursuing Apple - something I had written about here a couple of months back.
Compeared to newcomer foundries like either TSMC or Samsung, stolid old Intel still has better physics and processes as well as the bank balance to turn them into leading edge Fabs at least a node ahead of the pretenders ( incl. IBM ).
Intel can offer Apple an unique capacity for shrinking ( at 22 nm ) their massive A5 die and provide lower power dissipation / long battery life due to high k metal gate process combined with lower interconnect delays from ELK dielectrics( k lower than 2.5 ) / Cu metalliztion. All this translates into competitive advantage for Apples i-whatevers.
But they had better move fast because TSMC is very aggressively pursuing 20 nm and FinFETs.
Regarding Intel, they would have to get off the Stalinist Gulag mode of running Fabs and get used to the somewhat flakey ex PA Semi designers / prima donnas at Apple who are doing the A5 etc.
It sounds quite interesting and probable in future Ax SoCs. Both Apple and Intel are already partners for Mac (also thunderbolt). There is no apparent rivalary with intel compared to Samsung. Going with intel can also provide Apple process node differentiation over rivals in future 22nm ... and for intel it is a significant volume product to fill Fab.
Well given that Apple designed the A4 and A5 making use of an architectural license from ARM, it would be a radical change if they turned to x86 chips for future generations of i-hardware.
The implication if this story seems to be that Intel COULD become one of the leading manufacturers of ARM-based processors, both in terms of technology and volume, through a foundry engagement.