Apple/AMD - not x86

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I don't know anything about microchip design, but with all the x86 people running around I had a thought.



Is it possible that Apple engineers have designed a NEW RISC chip (not G5), that AMD will fab.



As I understand it Transmeta designs their chips and somebody else fabs them. Would this work for Apple?





Just a thought
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    rhumgodrhumgod Posts: 1,289member
    [quote]Originally posted by pepsi:

    <strong>Is it possible that Apple engineers have designed a NEW RISC chip (not G5), that AMD will fab.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    I don't think Apple has ever designed a chip - they design logic boards around chips.
  • Reply 2 of 23
    pepsipepsi Posts: 55member
    True, but then they never designed an MP3 Player before either.



    The question is COULD they design a chip?
  • Reply 3 of 23
    cowofwarcowofwar Posts: 98member
    ...



    Even if Apple did design a new cpu (which wouldn't happen considering the fact that they lack the required employees) I don't think AMD would fab them. AMD is trying to survive on their thoroughbred and pushing the hammer out the door. They don't need Apple taking up half its fabs.
  • Reply 4 of 23
    [quote]Originally posted by Rhumgod:

    <strong>



    I don't think Apple has ever designed a chip - they design logic boards around chips.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    As a matter of fact, they did take a stab at CPU development, around the 1990 time-frame. They were looking for a successor to the 68k, and there was an Apple project to design one in-house. My source on this is Jim Carlton's history of Apple.
  • Reply 5 of 23
    bodhibodhi Posts: 1,424member
    You do realize that this exact subject is being discussed in the x86 thread in this forum? Go check it out, I posted a lot of thoughts there that I don't feel like typing all over again here!
  • Reply 6 of 23
    programmerprogrammer Posts: 3,409member
    [quote]Originally posted by cowofwar:

    <strong>Even if Apple did design a new cpu (which wouldn't happen considering the fact that they lack the required employees) I don't think AMD would fab them. AMD is trying to survive on their thoroughbred and pushing the hammer out the door. They don't need Apple taking up half its fabs.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    AMD's main problem, however, seems to be that it isn't selling enough chips... which means its fabs are probably underutilized. The chips it is selling are super-low-margin x86s, so selling slightly higher margin PowerPCs to Apple might be a relief.
  • Reply 7 of 23
    They also had a team working on a strongARM processor back in the newton dyas
  • Reply 8 of 23
    rhumgodrhumgod Posts: 1,289member
    [quote]Originally posted by zig:

    <strong>As a matter of fact, they did take a stab at CPU development, around the 1990 time-frame. They were looking for a successor to the 68k, and there was an Apple project to design one in-house. My source on this is Jim Carlton's history of Apple.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    You're absolutely right! I must be <img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" /> dope or something



    I was just browsing my history docs, and came across the very first project for Apple's switch from the CISC-68040 chips to RISC was called...wait for it...JAGUAR!!!



    How weird.
  • Reply 9 of 23
    rogue27rogue27 Posts: 607member
    [quote]Originally posted by cowofwar:

    <strong>...



    Even if Apple did design a new cpu (which wouldn't happen considering the fact that they lack the required employees) I don't think AMD would fab them. AMD is trying to survive on their thoroughbred and pushing the hammer out the door. They don't need Apple taking up half its fabs.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Actually, AMD's fabs are working well-below capacity and they want to make more chips so they can make more money and help pay for the facility they have.



    AMD manufacturing a PPC chip for Apple would be a good thing for both companies.
  • Reply 10 of 23
    zozo Posts: 3,115member
    I posted a thread about this many months ago. I had said that Steve Jobs and AMD CEO had been seen at NAB of this year (or at least high-up counterparts from both companies) and they had closed door meetings.



    From what info I managed to get, they were talking about something along the lines you say. Its not for OS X to use an x86 processor, but rather, ask for a joint AMD/Apple alliance to make a 'new' PowerPC based chip.



    Everyone is in total denial, but I have seen too many reports to believe that SOMETHING isnt going on between Apple and AMD,



    Also, take Jobs' comment about 'keeping options open' (or something like that) when just asked about the future of what processors Apple would use.



    Who knows kids... maybe WWDC in a month would be an AMAZINGLY good time to announce something like that. Otherwise at some other WWDC next year or so.



    Trust me, something WILL happen betwen AMD and Apple... maybe even with Moto or something.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    frawgzfrawgz Posts: 547member
    [quote]Originally posted by pepsi:

    <strong>True, but then they never designed an MP3 Player before either.

    </strong><hr></blockquote>



    They had a lot of <a href="http://www.designchain.com/coverstory.asp?issue=summer02"; target="_blank">help</a>
  • Reply 12 of 23
    tomacshtomacsh Posts: 1member
    Apple had to design chips sometime in its history. Not microprocessors but custom ASICs for the original Mac and so.

    What is stopping Apple from doing x86 computers is probably lack of control of the platform. I think only way Apple would make x86 computers is to buy or ally with AMD (too much crow to eat using Intel), and create ASIC/(BIOS) that would make it impossible to run OS X on standard Intel PCs (so as to not cannibalize hardware sales; remember Apple is a hardware company not a software company). If in the future Apple starts to make more money on software and can maintain the user experience then I'd bet they'd open the platform again.
  • Reply 13 of 23
    xmogerxmoger Posts: 242member
    AMD may be over-capacity until the end of the year, but that's because they can't compete at the top of the line performance right now, and the market slump. Their units sold for the last quarter fell 25%. They see this as a short term situation though, since all thoroughbred & barton production will go to UMC. Short-term does not sound well for a new platform for apple to jump on. TSMC and UMC may have fab space though. Wouldn't we have seen dozens of job openings for chip designers at apple by now though?
  • Reply 14 of 23
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    I believe an Apple, AMD partnership is very possible. Consider that AMD does not have a very large share of the PC processor market. The prospect of having 100 percent share of the Apple market might be attractive to them. If someone knows AMD's market share, it would be simple to figure how much their sales would grow. And, as pointed out above, the margins would likely be better on Apple processors. Since Apple was in the AIM partnership from the beginning, it is hard to believe that they would not have contractual options protecting their supply of competitive processors. It is possible that Apple and AMD are jointly developing a PPC type processor right now.
  • Reply 15 of 23
    orionorion Posts: 10member
    AMD could make a PowerPC chip, and then make improvements on it like they did to their own chips. Maybe it can be less expensive and allow Apple to make cheaper Macs?
  • Reply 16 of 23
    eskimoeskimo Posts: 474member
    [quote]Originally posted by snoopy:

    <strong>I believe an Apple, AMD partnership is very possible. Consider that AMD does not have a very large share of the PC processor market. The prospect of having 100 percent share of the Apple market might be attractive to them. If someone knows AMD's market share, it would be simple to figure how much their sales would grow. And, as pointed out above, the margins would likely be better on Apple processors. Since Apple was in the AIM partnership from the beginning, it is hard to believe that they would not have contractual options protecting their supply of competitive processors. It is possible that Apple and AMD are jointly developing a PPC type processor right now.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    AMD has a roughly 21-20% share in the PC processor market. This represents 8-10X the volume of computer that Apple ships. Therefore Apple would comprise 10-12% of AMD's business if AMD became the sole supplier to Apple.



    Funny thing is that Apple represents about 10-12% of Motorola's SPS revenue as well.
  • Reply 17 of 23
    fran441fran441 Posts: 3,715member
    In other words, don't count on Apple controlling one of the most important components of their computers any time soon.
  • Reply 18 of 23
    screedscreed Posts: 1,077member
    I just had a thought. What if Apple created a "Suppose Motorola axed everything but mobile and embedded products" contingency plan ($2.3 billion dollar loss!!!). It would have to involve someone to:

    1) take over current processor fabrication.

    2) take over next generation processor design.

    3) take over next generation processor fabrication.



    So a possible setup up would be:

    1) AMD -- rogue27 commented that AMD fabs are under used -- what a perfectly cheap opportunity for Apple and money in the till for AMD. Why wouldn't IBM make them? For the volume needed for the consumer Macs, AMD may the better deal.



    2) IBM and Apple -- this can fold in the Power4/5 speculation



    3) IBM



    OR



    Apple has asked IBM and AMD for flat-out competing bids.



    Screed ...all right, come tear it apart



    P.S. Um, ZO? WWDC happened in May. Are you referring to Seybold or Apple Expo??
  • Reply 19 of 23
    bartobarto Posts: 2,246member
    If AMD fabs are under-used, then why did they dump motorola because they needed more fabs, not better processes?



    If AMD fabs are under-used, then why do they outsource some K7 production to UMC?



    Back in the early 90's, there was the money to blow on a brand new (PPC) chip/architecture. I don't think that moto/ibm/amd would be willing to blow that kind of money right now.



    POWER5!



    Barto
  • Reply 20 of 23
    tabootaboo Posts: 128member
    [quote]Originally posted by xmoger:

    <strong> Wouldn't we have seen dozens of job openings for chip designers at apple by now though?</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Not neccesarily. I noticed a while back (on my patent database spree), that Apple had a pretty good graphics chip design group going (a couple years ago, anyway). Many of the people in the list were ex-SGI (yep, kinda surprised me), and a couple of those seemed to specialize in RISC design.

    Apple could very well have been picking such people up slowly for other projects, and no-one would ever notice....
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