Tag Archive for ‘AMD’

‘Apple Could Use Custom x86 SoC Made by AMD’ ➝

Gian Maria Forni, writing for Bits and Chips:

According to our sources, Apple is pondering about using custom x86 CPUs in its next iMacs and MacBooks, during 2017-2018. Nowadays it’s hard to avoid the use of x86 ISA in high end and professional personal computers, but at the same time Intel CPUs are too expensive if we compare these with ARM SoCs.

So, Apple’s target is to realize a complete x86 custom SoC family, like Sony and Microsoft did with their consoles. AMD is the perfect partner to do this.

This rumor was published back in October of last year, but John Gruber linked to it a couple of days ago.

There’s a lot of interesting things happening in the world of CPUs. Intel licensing ARM technology and attempting to take over the manufacturing of Apple’s A-series processors, the massive gap between Mac hardware iterations which was at least partly due to delays in Intel’s latest generation of CPUs, and the aforelinked rumor that Apple might be working with AMD on custom x86 SoCs. To name a few.

This is exactly the kind of rumors I enjoy, though. It hearkens back to the early days of my technology enthusiasm, when AMD was first to market with 64-bit and dual-core processors. And, perhaps this is just wishful thinking, but I have a strange feeling that we’ll be learning more about all this within the next six months.

AMD Mulling Breakup, Spinoff ➝

Liana B. Baker, reporting for Reuters:

One option under consideration is separating AMD’s graphics and licensing business from its server business, which sells processors that power data centers, one of the people said.

AMD had explored such a move in the past and decided against it, the people said. Su, however, who took over as CEO last October, judged that there is merit for the company to at least consider such a possibility again, the people added. There is no certainty that a split or spin-off will occur, the people cautioned.

I was a huge fan of AMD processors during their transition to 64-bit and dual-core chips while Intel was still limping along with their Hyper-Threading technology. I probably built about a half-dozen computers with various AMD processors during that time for myself and members of my family. But, that phase in my life ended shortly after I bought my first Mac in 2006.

I haven’t paid too much attention to AMD over the past several years, but I still think of them fondly as an important company that helped me fall in love with computers. It’s sad to see them struggle and I hope their new CEO has what it takes to get them back on track.

AMD’s Graphics, Marketing, and Strategy Executives Leave Company ➝

It’s never a good sign when three high-level executives leave the company at the same time. I remember when I thought of AMD as the most interesting company in technology. Today, I don’t even know the names of their flagship products.

Apple’s Intel Problem ➝

Stephen Hackett on Apple’s potential move away from Intel toward ARM-based processors for their Macs:

In short, Apple’s ARM-based A7 isn’t a good choice for a MacBook Air at this point. While I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility for Apple to ship a slower notebook if the tradeoffs were right, but that current performance gap isn’t enough to justify the possible gain in Cupertino’s beloved performance per watt metric.

Apple is reliant on Intel delivering processors in a timely manner. Intel’s Broadwell processor delays are very likely impacting Apple’s release plans for Macs. It’s one thing for their to be delays of a few months, but these new Intel chips were originally set to enter production in late 2013. Now the processors that Apple is assumed to have plans for might not be ready until July 2015. That’s a far cry from what anyone would consider “reasonable delays.”

But, what strikes me about this recent news is how quickly tech reporters have jumped on this idea that Apple would switch to ARM-based processors rather than use Intel’s x86 chips.

Stephen Hackett does a great job laying out some of the reasons Apple is unlikely to switch in his aforelinked piece on 512 Pixels. But, why would Apple switch from Intel to ARM-based processors when they could switch to AMD? I certainly don’t think either switch is going to happen — at least not in the near-term. But, AMD seems like a much more likely candidate to supply chips to Apple than Apple making a switch to an entirely different architecture for their Macs.

Not only would Apple avoid all of the headaches associated with making another major switch in processor technologies, but they’d be able to work with an underdog with something to prove. And, Apple would have a lot more room to bully AMD around than they currently do with Intel.

I certainly don’t have any room to talk when it comes to the performance differences between AMD and Intel processors (that’s a topic for 18-year-old me during the days when AMD was eating Intel’s lunch in performance and Intel’s chips were pushing 4GHz clock speeds). But, I certainly find the notion of Apple switching from Intel to AMD far more believable than Apple moving to ARM processors for their Macs.

Apple in Discussions with AMD ➝

While everyone is still mulling over the fourth generation iPhone leak, I’ve had some time to look through my backlog of news. Three days ago AppleInsider reported that Apple is in discussions to adopt AMD chips.

AppleInsider’s sources claim to have seen AMD executives on their way out of meetings at Apple’s campus. Regarding the reasoning behind Apple’s move from Intel, AppleInsider writes:

It is believed that Apple is working with AMD to expand its potential sources for CPUs in order to increase its flexibility and broaden its competitive options, but also likely in response to problems it has encountered with Intel. These issues include limited availability of new processors (which is rumored to have slowed Apple’s notebook refreshes) as well as new chipset designs imposed by Intel that have blocked the Mac maker’s plans to continue a partnership with NVidia to deliver a standardized chipset for use with its Intel processors across all of its consumer computer offerings.

Expanding their CPU sources is the most interesting reason behind this move. It means that Intel will have to compete with AMD for Apple’s attention which, if true, means that Apple will be able to get faster chips for less money per unit. I just hope that lower cost to Apple translates to even faster macs at the same cost to the consumer.