New Rumors of An AMD-Apple Alliance Raise Familiar Questions

One of the more amusing things about being an IT journalist is that, after you've been writing for awhile, you realize that many of the juiciest or interesting rumors don't appear so much as reappear, travelling in and out of the public eye much as a comet orbits a star. In this case, the AMD+Apple chestnut has hoved back into view, with a long tail of juicy speculation flowing out behind it. The long and short of it is that AMD employees have been seen traveling to and fro from Cupertino, inside Apple's Commuter Coaches. This has fueled speculation on whether or not Apple is evaluating new AMD products for future iMac/Macbook products, especially since Apple rather pointedly opted not to rely solely on Intel's integrated GPUs when it recently refreshed its Macbook/Macbook Pro series.

We're surprised the folks at AppleInsider could even see the AMD guys.

Let's get the easy part out of the way first. It would be much more surprising if AMD didn't attempt to show off its new products to Apple. Llano is a huge step forward for AMD and it'll be the company's first Fusion part since it bought ATI five years ago. That acquisition has become less contentious as time has passed and ATI's R600-derived architectures became stronger, but AMD's repeated goodwill writeoffs after the ATI purchase eventually totaled more than half the price. Having wasted $2.5 billion when it bought the GPU designer (and running about 2.5 years late), AMD needs Fusion to wow OEMs when it finally comes to market.

If you want to catch people's attention, Apple is the company you court. Toss in the fun of giving NVIDIA a black eye, and there's plenty of reasons why AMD would want to put Llano processors in Apple's labs for performance profiling. The real question is, is there a reason for Apple to be interested in AMD, beyond using the company as leverage against Intel when bargaining over volume pricing?

If we had to bet on what's going on, our first choice would be "business as usual," followed by "AMD = bargaining chip." There is, however, a third possibility. After its recent refresh, Apple's high-end products are now based on Core i5/i7 processors, but there are a surprising number of Core 2 Duo systems (both desktop and laptop) still for sale. If Apple wants to upgrade those products without necessarily jumping for the Core i3/i5 series, Llano, on 32nm, could be a compelling alternative, particularly if AMD can deliver a 32nm CPU+GPU with better performance and lower power consumption than a 45nm C2D+integrated NVIDIA GPU.

The problem with that theory is that it assumes Apple is actually looking for a Core i3 alternative and not just threatening to use one. The one card AMD might have to play in this space is core count; Sunnyvale could try to offer its quad-core Llano parts at a better price than Intel's dual-core Core i3 series.

It's possible, but it doesn't seem likely. As great as it would be for AMD to snag Apple as an OEM, we're betting Apple will stay an Intel-only house for the foreseeable future.
Via:  AppleInsider
rapid1 4 years ago

"This has fueled speculation on whether or not Apple is evaluating new AMD products for future iMac/Macbook products." I am sure the AMD employees just wanted to ride in those awesome Apple campus transports.

Inspector 4 years ago

I never thought of this that way when i first read a article on this somewhere. (Bargaining chip part) If they do how ever do use AMD as part of their products, what would be the difference?

Edit:LOL Rapid, what transportation do they use??? :D

Super Dave 4 years ago

[quote user="Inspector"]Edit:LOL Rapid, what transportation do they use??? :D[/quote]

The one in the picture, of course!Big Smile

la_guy_10 4 years ago

It makes sense to me for Apple to get on board with AMD, again they have the complete solution with CPU and GPU. Until Intel and Nvidia figure out how they will work together, Apple and other OEM's are stuck in a quagmire. I think lots of people are underestimating the impact of Fusion. Apple again needs powerful graphics as they cater to the digital designers and such and apparently Intel is not cutting it. Apple prides its self of using only the highest quality components in their builds and I think AMD fits the bill perfect.

animatortom 4 years ago

Oh please say it ain't so Joe!!

I do hope that they don't. This is why Apple is tanking, they need better graphics and the capability to appeal to more than just the Graphic artists and photographers. Sounds like Apple want to get into a whole new ballgame of 3D DCC.

The Flash is not what we look for when it comes to Workstation computers! We would rather have it look like a tank from WWII and just as cheap if it meant that the results were top notch. And that we didn't have to pay an arm and a leg every time we have to upgrade components!

I believe AMD is on track to building a good profit margin, this would be like getting in bed with Vader! If Apple want you then make them work for it. Cut a deal with Pixar first, then make them come crawling, not the other way around. In other words make the Apple people pay!

Joel H 4 years ago

Anima, tanking? Are we discussing the same company? And frankly, the Mac Pro workstations are pretty functional-form systems. Solid, gray, imposing.

Nethersprite 4 years ago

"It makes sense to me for Apple to get on board with AMD, again they have the complete solution with CPU and GPU."

Excellent point: since Macs are so anti-upgrade and hardware-software integrated, having an integrated CPU/GPU platform is a "well, duh" decision. Especially since the integrated GPU in the Clarkdale i3 reportedly sucks.

AKwyn 4 years ago

This seems interesting but I don't think it'll happen. If the NVIDIA graphics are more powerful then the integrated AMD graphics then why would they switch from Intel to AMD? I can see them being used in the 13' MacBook and the Mac mini but not in the bigger machines.

Secondly, people in the graphics industry rely on both the CPU and the GPU. Quite frankly the Intel CPU's are the best performers and the best renderers, AMD has yet to keep up with Intel but they are good performers regardless.

The only thing where the deal might make sense is with the GPU's. Right now the GTX480 has serious heat and power issues and wouldn't fit in well with a Mac. the 5800 series is cooler and more efficient and would work well with a Mac. And if you imagine the integrated GPU on an AMD CPU then it'll probably be a little bit faster then an Intel GPU.

Joel H 4 years ago


AMD could conceivably offer a Fusion part that was cheaper than buying NV GPU + Intel CPU. And I agree that most of the attractiveness is from the GPU angle.

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