There’s a fascinating new report at ZDNet speculating on a possible purchase of AMD by none other than Apple themselves. The possibilities are indeed interesting, and could have fascinating implications for the future of Apple and the Mac.
Fueled by news of the recent layoffs at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), the report asks the question of why. Continuing, the report suggests that, based on Apple’s previous testing of AMD processors in the MacBook Air, the company may be preparing for an acquisition, and suggests Apple as the prime candidate.
With Intel already waging war against Apple and the MacBook Air with their Ultrabook specification for thin and light notebooks, Intel may be planning to compete with Apple in the ultralight arena more directly, potentially making them a concerning choice as a supplier for the MacBook Air.
We’ve previously entertained the possibility that Apple could leave Intel, but up to this point, the bulk of the speculation has surrounded Apple possibly using ARM processors like the A5 in future Macs, which we’ve discussed at length. ZDNet’s article, however, provides an exciting new possibility – and one which may actually be more likely.
Intel and AMD have a number of differences, among them that while Intel lacks in the graphics department (Steve Jobs pointed this out on page 493 of Isaacson’s recent biography), AMD has a great strength in that area.
We tried to help Intel, but they don’t listen much. We’ve been telling them for years that their graphics suck… They wanted this big joint project to do chips for future iPhones. There were two reasons we didn’t go with them. One was that they are just really slow. They’re like a steamship…Second is that we just didn’t want to teach them everything, which they could go and sell to our competitors.
Steve Jobs didn’t often take kindly to things which he considered to be behind the times, which may serve as a motivation for Apple to consider different avenues in the future, such as AMD, for their Mac line.
Jobs even pointed out that Apple could stand to gain a lot by acquiring AMD, notably gaining a vast array of patents to defend against future legal challenges. Apple would also gain AMD’s engineering team, which has an excellent record of innovating on a low budget.
Combining all of this with Apple’s continuing work on building custom chips (like the A4 and A5) for iOS devices (and having reportedly tested A5 chips in the MacBook Air), we’re left with an intriguing situation in which Apple may indeed be well served by an AMD acquisition.
Instead of relying on Samsung or TSMC to manufacture their chips, Apple could use AMD’s engineering team and manufacturing resources, enabling them to have even more control over the process, and likely reduce their costs, while being able to carefully engineer chips that could work well not only in iOS devices, but in Macs as well.
Of course, this is all speculative, but it does provide some fascinating food for thought, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear down the road that Apple indeed pushed forward and made the acquisition. What are your thoughts?