Apple and AMD?

Recently an article was posted on Ars Technica about AMD visiting Apple’s top brass in California. I found some interesting conversations on the subject as well as have a few thoughts of my own on the subject.
Quote from Kevin G
“The switch to AMD parts wouldn’t happen in the sort term but something offered a bit further down the road. As such it would be foolish to take a look AMD’s current line as a reason to migrate some product lines over. Rather it is AMD’s road map that would really compel Apple. So what does AMD have down the line that Apple could use in its line up?
The MacBook Air will likely continue to use Intel chips. Power consumption is key for MacBook Air’s ultra slim design. I just have a hard time seeing AMD’s Llano or Bobcat designs fitting in. Also that can be taken literally as Intel is offering Apple BGA packaged chips with fewer IO pins to reduce physical size on the motherboard. AMD does have the competing Turion line but those CPU’s are lagging behind a bit. The hybrid CPU+CPU chip code named Llano would make an excellent chip for use inside the Mac Mini, low end iMac, and MacBook lines. While having an integrated GPU, will likely fit between a Radeon 5570 and Radeon 5670 in terms of performance. Not the greatest in terms of performance but a still a leap over the current nVidia based chipset solutions and future Intel integrated graphics. I continue to see the MacBook Pro to utilize a discrete graphics card. This negates some of the value Llano would offer. What would be ideal here is a low power, 32 nm version of Lynnfield from Intel. Such a chip would be custom for Apple as there is no plan on Intel’s roadmaps. However, Intel looks to be offering Sandy Bridge mobile chips with integrated graphics next year. That puts both Llano and Sandybridge in the “overkill” category in terms of features. As such, I see Apple sticking with Intel due to the PCI-E link coming from the chip package. The Mac Pro will migrate to AMD chips if Bulldozer is able to deliver on its performance claims next year. Socket G34 would likely be the platform of choice for additional CPU cores, sockets, and memory expansion. AMD right now has some socket G34 chips priced at relatively low levels for this market segment. $300 for an 8 core chip that is quad socket capable? Those are very, very attractive prices at the entry level but I doubt Apple would go quad socket for a workstation. Bulldozer’s performance is just difficult to predict against Sandybridge here. However, Intel could sweeten the deal with some chipset advances. They look to be integrating USB 3.0 before AMD into the chipset and this high end sector will have a 10 Gbit ethernet option from Intel. PCI-E connectivity is an unknown from a chipset view but I believe that Intel will have an edge. The aggressive pricing of the socket G34 chips would make AMD attractive for the Xserve line even ifBulldozer doesn’t perform up to expectations. Scaling the number of sockets to four would likely counter any performance deficiencies. Other benefits like memory expansion and virtualization support would swing in AMD’s favor in this market even without jumping to a quad socket system. The only ace up Intel’s sleeve would be 10 Gbit ethernet support in their chipsets.” -end quote.

Lars Pallesen

“Jon, you’re making the same mistake in your reasoning that many people made back in 2005 when Apple announced their decision to switch to Intel processors. You are basing your analysis on the CPUs that are available now – not the ones that are scheduled in the roadmap 6-12 months down the road.Forget about the AMD processors you see in products today. They are never going to end up in any Mac. Not now, not ever. Apple has already planned which Intel processors that go into which Mac updates for the remainder of 2010. These things are planned at least 6-8 months in advance. (Oh, and you will get your Core i5 update to the 21,5 inch iMac later this year, don’t worry). IF and when Apple decides to use AMD processors in any of their Macs we’re looking at spring 2011 at the earliest. It just so happens that this is also the time where AMD have reported that they intend to introduce their brand new “Bulldozer” CPU architecture in a line of 32 nm chips. A made-from-the-ground-up new line of CPU’s that should give AMDs products a competitive edge again.The iMac will probably be the last in Apple’s product line to receive an AMD processor. MacBook Air is a more likely first candidate, actually. Read up on the stuff, and see if you can figure out why.” end quote.

My Thoughts:
Hell, maybe they will use AMD for mobile and Intel for Desktop, who knows. If they do switch it will not be till 10.7 and they couldn’t piss intel off because if AMD screwed them it would be hard to get a good deal back from intel. They have to maintain relationships. I would Love to see AMD come to the mac. Mobile, Desktop or both. I don’t think its gonna happen and if it does it wont be anytime soon, but we can pray cant we.  I think AMD is good for Apple and its the roadmap Apple is always looking at. Maybe Apple knows something we don’t about AMD’s future plans and things it has planned. Maybe Apple like what it sees. Or then again, maybe Apple is  just pissed at intel for having lack luster supplies on its laptop CPU’s. And I don’t think Apple Like this big fight going on with nvidia and intel. AMD removes them from all that. Plus AMD own ATI so that would save on license etc as AMD own ATI. Intel does not own Nvidia so that a separate business deal apple has to make. Using AMD it gets its GPUs and CPUs all in one place.  There are MANY compelling reason for Apple to go with AMD as there are many compelling reason for Apple to stay with Intel. I myself would like to see AMD adopted, but thats just me.  Maybe AMD is willing to build custom chips for Apple.


About Eric Meek

Just an average, everyday Apple lover.
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