Apple And AMD: More Than Just Graphics?

Posted in Mac on 25/02/2011 by J. Glenn Künzler


The new MacBook Pro models were unvelied yesterday, revealing the fastest MacBook Pro models the world has ever seen. In addition to Thunderbolt and the Sandy Bridge update, which have been discussed extensively, I found it especially interesting that Apple has moved to ATI’s mobile graphics processors.

ATI is owned by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) – the same company that remains in still competition with Intel in the processor race. With this being the first time we’ve seen AMD’s graphics processors in a MacBook Pro, I am left to wonder: Is this really just about graphics, or is there a deeper method to Apple’s decision?

Since November, members of the Apple community have been curious about the idea of Apple embracing AMD’s 8-Core Fusion Processors coming to the MacBook Pro, and while we didn’t see that happen this time around, the future is open for such a move.

There are many reasons why Apple may not have used the Fusion processors in the recent update, with the benefits of Light Peak and a long-standing relationship with Intel to consider in the matter. So the real question I would pose is this: Is it possible that Apple is testing the AMD waters (as far as hardware support, price negotiations, ad long-term loyalty) by including their chip sets in MacBook Pros?

I, for one, believe this is not only possible, but likely. Apple has never been afraid to switch processor technologies to take advantage of new developments (such as with their early move towards PowerPC, and their subsequent move away from it towards Intel.), so why not? AMD has some great new technologies available, and in some respects is really ahead of Intel’s curve.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments!


J. Glenn Künzler

Glenn is Managing Editor at MacTrast, and has been using a Mac since he bought his first MacBook Pro in 2006. Now he's up to his neck in Apple, and owns an old iBook, a 2012 iMac with an extra Thunderbolt display for good measure, a 4th-generation iPad, an iPad mini, 2 iPhones, and a Mac Mini that lives at the neighbor's house. He lives in a small town in Utah, enjoys bacon more than you can possibly imagine, and is severely addicted to pie.