updated 09:45 pm EDT, Sat May 17, 2008
PA Semi's PowerPC chips
Apple will reportedly offer legacy support for PA Semi's line of PowerPC-based processors following pressure from the government and clearing up rumors that surfaced after the chipmaker's acquisition by Apple last month. In effort to continue to push the chip power efficiency envelope, the Cupertino-based company purchased the microprocessor design company for nearly $300 million, but reports following the announcement said that the US Defense Department may have objected if Apple discontinued support for its current chips that are used in a wide variety of military devices, but are not used in Apple's current generation products (PowerPC chips were used by Apple before its transition to the Intel architecture almost three years ago). The Register says that the government may have pressured Apple into supporting the current PowerPC-chip design and PA Semi's customers.
While Apple declined to elaborate on the rationale behind the acquisition, the PA Semi acquisition appears to be focused on the company's intellectual property and talent for reducing chip power consumption rather than its products.
According to the report, PA Semi has started notifying a limited set of customers that the company's existing dual-core processor will enjoy long-term support, but the company will abandon any efforts to push the PA Semi architecture forward, The Register reports.
Apple will also retain a number of employees to help support its current operations and customers, the report indicated. PA Semi's PWRficient processor is reportedly designed into DoD programs in every major branch of the armed services and the chips are used in more than 10 defense systems made by companies such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and for military systems, such as missiles, mine-sweeping gear and storage boxes.