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Redirected from: Intel-based Mac

Definition: Intel Mac


A Mac computer powered by an Intel x86 CPU. In 2006, Apple switched from PowerPC CPUs made by IBM and Freescale to x86 CPUs from Intel. Apple also introduced Boot Camp, which allows an Intel Mac to start up either as a Mac or as a Windows machine, providing Windows has been installed (see Boot Camp).

Intel Macs allow for the seamless transfer of data between PCs and Macs. Prior to the switch, certain files such as TIFF images required conversion between Windows and Mac.

Windows on the Mac
Another benefit for using the same hardware is that Windows can run simultaneously on the Mac using software such as Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion. Because Macs are Intel based, Windows runs approximately 75% as fast as if it were running natively in a PC of equivalent speed. When Windows ran in non-Intel Macs using emulation software such as Virtual PC, it ran much slower because its instructions had to be converted to the PowerPC CPU. After the CPU change, many Windows users felt comfortable switching to the Mac, knowing they could run Windows programs with adequate performance for which there were no Mac counterparts.

Switching Again
In 2020, Apple announced it will begin switching the Mac line from Intel CPUs to ARM CPUs to standardize on one CPU architecture for all its mobile and desktop products (see ARM Mac). See Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion.