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Apple in talks to use AMD Opteron, Turion chips?

updated 12:25 pm EDT, Fri April 16, 2010

Apple may get around Intel limits with AMD deal

Apple is in "advanced discussions" that may see it use AMD chips to supplement Intel, a potentially major rumor claimed on Friday. Executives and others from AMD have reportedly been seen visiting Apple's Cupertino campus and giving briefings to help Apple work on AMD-based Macs. The AppleInsider source claimed that most of the testing so far has centered around AMD's workstation chips, headed up by the Opteron line, and for mobile chips like the Turion series.

The surprise shift, which isn't necessarily definite, would come both out of business and technical reasons. At a minimum, choosing AMD would let Apple have more than potential one processor supplier and would have both the flexibility to build more system types as well as to avoid supply problems at Intel's end. It's believed but not confirmed that a shortage of mobile Core i5 and i7 processors this spring may have played a large role in delaying the new MacBook Pro line and favored Acer over Apple. Even if not a point of contention, Apple could use AMD as a threat to Intel to give it favorable pricing and ship dates.

In hardware, AMD also has a handful of advantages that weren't present when Apple broadcast its intent to use Intel in 2005. Since it acquired ATI, AMD has had the advantage of far faster integrated graphics than Intel, whose GMA architecture hasn't advanced significantly in performance even over the past two years. The custom NVIDIA chipset in the 13-inch MacBook Pro, as well as the graphics switching in larger MacBook Pros, is virtually necessary to maintain performance expectations by avoiding Intel's graphics whenever possible. AMD's Radeon and Mobility Radeon graphics, meanwhile, perform much more like dedicated if low-end graphics cores and often support modern features.

With an Intel-only lineup, Apple has no guarantees of getting NVIDIA integrated graphics as the ongoing Intel/NVIDIA dispute may legally prevent NVIDIA from producing such a part for Core i3, i5 and i7 processors until it's resolved.

In workstations, AMD recently launched a 12-core Opteron that could theoretically outperform an eight-core Xeon in very parallel tasks. Many Opterons also cost significantly less than their Intel counterparts and could help curb the rising prices for Mac Pro towers.

Mobile has often been AMD's weak point as it has seldom devoted as much attention as Intel to power efficiency in the area; its Turion and mobile Athlon lines have often used more energy or else run at lower clock speeds. However, it's speculated that Apple could use AMD to custom-engineer chips, much like it did the A4 in the iPad, to get the exact results it wants.

None of the involved companies have commented on the accuracy of the apparent leak.

by MacNN Staff



  1. PRoth

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Standard business rule

    Always have a backup plan!

  1. ggirton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    potentially major rumor!

    Major Rumor, when did HE get here!

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Do they have to sink into the gutter?

    I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

  1. chefpastry

    Joined: Dec 1969



    More choices = good.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I will not purchase any computer with an AMD CPU. They've always made crappy processors. If they make the switch, I guess I'll have to get a PC and run Ubuntu.

  1. facebook_Christopher

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Apr 2010


    Always in negotiations...

    I imagine every major tech company is basically in "negotiations" or "talks" with every other major tech company 24 hours a day. Even when the pot gets stirred publicly (recently Apple-Google, Apple-Adobe) that must only represent a small percentage (sometimes a very VISIBLE percentage) of the wheelings and dealings that occur. I can't help but think that AMD has been working with Apple in some regard since the transition to the x86 platform.

  1. apple4ever

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not surprising

    I bet Steve is pissed about the Intel/NVidia dispute. I would look elsewhere to get them to wake up. AMD chips in Macs would be a huge coup to AMD and a huge hit to Intel.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Huge hit to Intel??

    Intel couldn't give a flying-fu5k about all 6%+ of you Apple users. They make the best processors, period. And if you want the best, you buy Intel otherwise take a hike.

    If Stevie-boy thinks he can push his weight around and intimidate Intel, he is sadly mistaken.

  1. excursioner

    Joined: Dec 1969


    ┬┐Apple buying AMD?

    ┬┐Could Apple be in plans of acquiring AMD? They're now making some of their chips. I think this could be a future possibility to design chips for their own needs.

  1. dimmer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "They've always made crappy processors."

    Oh that's bull-hockey. AMD made better x86 CPU's than Intel did for at least five years: if you really care about the brand inside the CPU of your system please go back to your PowerPC and leave the rest of us to get on with the best processor for the job.

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