Apple in Talks with AMD: Report
News that Apple executives and their counterparts from chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices have been spotted together has fed speculation that Apple may be moving future Macs away from the Intel chips they've been using since 2006. AppleInsider quotes "people familiar with the matter"
as saying that Apple's already worked out an agreement with AMD to use its chips in their labs, an indication that work is already underway to get AMD's desktop and notebook chips in Mac computers.
According to AppleInsider's
report, Apple has been frustrated by limited availability of Intel's newest processors, which they suggest may have been a reason why refreshes of products like the Mac Pro and Mac Book Pro have taken so long to get to market. There's also speculation that AMD might be willing to work with Apple on custom chip designs. In addition, AMD now owns graphics chipmaker ATI, which would give Apple an edge on getting improved GPUs into Macs. Both companies are silent on the matter, but witnesses are reporting that AMD top execs have been seen on the free Commuter Coach buses that Apple runs between San Francisco and company headquarters in Cupertino, and have been spotted on the Apple campus coming out of meeting rooms with Apple upper management.
Interestingly, AMD's ties to Apple seem to have a number of tendrils. The Inquirer
reports that it was engineers that Apple hired away from AMD last year
who developed Apple's in-house graphic switching technology. Bob Drebin and Raja Koduri were top talent AMD got from its ATI acquisition who came to Apple in 2008. Drebin, who had been Chief Technology Officer at ATI, was also instrumental in the development of the GameCube's graphics
hardware when he was with ArtX.
The report does not suggest that Apple would move all its lines en masse to new processors. Rather, Apple would become like most other computer manufacturers, choosing from a mix of vendors for its CPUs and graphics chips. Price per GHz is not significantly better with AMD chips, but Apple may well surmise that introducing competition may cause their partners at Intel to come up with sweeter deals.