Apple nearly released a MacBook Air powered by an AMD CPU, reports MacRumors. Claims are that “Apple had late stage AMD Llano based MacBook Air prototypes last spring and had been ‘on the verge of production’.”
Lliano is a part of the AMD Fusion platform which offers a combined CPU/GPU system. The AMD based design for the Air reportedly offered much more graphics (GPU) power, with a only slight loss in CPU power.
Forget about the CPU (Central Processing Unit). Chipmaker AMD would like you to think instead about what it calls the APU, its Accelerated Processing Unit. The combo product uses a single die to contain, according to AMD, “a multicore CPU, a powerful DirectX 11-capable discrete-level graphics and parallel processing engine, a dedicated high-definition video acceleration block, and a high-speed bus that speeds data across the differing types of processor cores within the design.”
GPU performance has been a stumbling block for Apple when trying to push its laptop design forward. The Air was stuck with previous generation Intel chips. Those chips were limited due to Intel’s relatively poor performing integrated GPUs. The Air was finally upgraded to Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors in July of this year.
Apple had reportedly threatened to abandon Intel’s chips if the supplier was unable to improve their power consumption profile. It was during this time that Apple was exploring their options with AMD.
It’s believed that one reason Apple decided to stay with “Intel Inside” was that AMD had an inability to supply enough required parts to Apple.
Due to AMD’s clear graphics advantage over Intel’s chips, some have speculated that Apple may consider purchasing AMD to further their production of custom chips, such as the A4 and A5.