DEPITE THE FACT that Apple once again went with Nvidia graphics solutions for its updated MacBook Pro’s it looks like Apple and AMD are considering a much closer relationship than they’ve had so far. At least if we’re to believe a story from Apple Insider which is suggesting that Apple and AMD are in talks about Apple using AMD’s processors and chipsets in upcoming machines.
There are very few details and most of it seems to be pure speculation, but apparently AMD staff and executives have been seen around Apple’s HQ at a much more frequent rate than before. The big question is what the two companies have been discussing, but the article goes on to talk about the fact that AMD is said to have been briefing Apple on upcoming products and even supplied Apple with samples of said products.
The interesting thing is that we’re not talking about graphics products here, as Apple has a few AMD graphics solutions in some of its product ranges, most notably the iMac’s. Instead it looks like Apple is taking a closer look at AMD’s processors for both desktops and notebooks. This doesn’t mean anything when it comes to actual products right away, as for one, even if Apple was in talks with AMD about producing AMD based products it would be months before such a product would enter the market. Moreover, Apple Insider is suggesting that Apple might just be doing this to get Intel to offer it better deals, as pitching one company against another is a fairly common business practice.
Then again, if you consider that Apple has issues with Nvidia (bumpgate) and the fact that Intel now has moved the IGP inside most of its small consumer level CPUs, Apple might be looking for alternatives. Apple isn’t keen on the performance of Intel’s integrated graphics solutions and if the company is going to move to another CPU vendor, which also happens to make capable graphics chips, then maybe Apple could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.
We wouldn’t expect Apple to launch any products with AMD processors until next year at the earliest, if Apple is seriously considering AMD. The simple reason for this is that Apple would wait for AMD’s Fusion platform to arrive, especially in the mobile space. It seems like Apple is very keen on the idea of having an integrated graphics processor (IGP) combined with a discrete GPU in its high-end notebook products and AMD’s Fusion platform should offer just that. AMD also needs to come up with some more power efficient notebook processors before Apple will seriously consider AMD CPUs, and these new processors will also have to offer better performance than Intel’s current mobile CPUs, as otherwise Apple will have a hard time justifying the move.
One last thing that Apple Insider points out that could make things really interesting is that they think Apple is asking AMD for some customised processors with Apple specific features. Considering that AMD is more of a chip design company these days after the Global Foundries spinoff, this actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Not only would AMD gain Apple as a high profile customer, but it would also have a very close-knit relationship with Apple if it offers to design a custom set of chips to make up a system to Apple’s specifications.
We’re simply going to have to wait and see what comes of this, but it’s at least an interesting prospect. We doubt that it’ll mean more affordable products from Apple, despite the fact that AMD CPUs are in general far more affordable than Intel CPUs, seeing as how Apple has positioned itself as a premium brand and as such it will charge a premium price for all of its products. Don’t hold your breath though, as despite of all this speculation, we can’t see Intel giving up Apple without a fight.S|A
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