Rumor: Apple testing AMD chips for future Macs. Would you buy without Intel inside?

Summary:One of the main reasons Apple was able to turn around its Mac sales in recent years was the company's decision to switch from the PowerPC to Intel processors. But if the latest rumor circulated by AppleInsider.

One of the main reasons Apple was able to turn around its Mac sales in recent years was the company's decision to switch from the PowerPC to Intel processors. But if the latest rumor circulated by AppleInsider.com is true, the tech giant is making moves that suggest the partnership may be undergoing a change.

The Web site is reporting that not only has Apple been in high-level talks with AMD about using its processors in the future, but it's even been testing those chips at its labs. AppleInsider is in part jumping to that conclusion after hearing of AMD execs being seen leaving meetings with Apple bigwigs, as well as AMD employees riding the commuter buses on the Apple campus.

Intel's delay in getting its latest mobile processors ready for the MacBook Pro apparently has made unhappy customers of Apple, which also isn't pleased with delays it suffered with Nvidia's graphics solutions. As the second fiddle to its rivals, AMD may be willing to bend to Apple's design wishes more than Intel and Nvidia. It could also be making overtures to AMD as a way to gain some bargaining chips (pun intended) over its partners in future negotiations.

AppleInsider.com says Apple appears to be most interested in AMD's server and mobile parts, not surprising given the success of the Intel Core line of desktop processors. While Intel isn't totally dependent on Apple business, it would be a blow to lose out to AMD for the high-profile Mac systems, which is why it's doubtful that the switch would be made without a big fight from Intel. Then again, it would be nice to see some lower prices on Macs that a changeover to AMD processors could bring.

Would consumers care about such a move? Most of them aren't benchmarking their processors, so the switch would probably go over buyers' heads anyway, as long as it comes wrapped in Apple packaging. And Apple has succeeded with its custom chip in the iPad, so working with AMD to tweak things to improve battery life and graphics performance could wind up being a value add for customers.

For its part, AMD has trailed Intel in the mobile space for some time, and the new mobile Core i3/i5/i7 processors are adding to the lopsided advantage. The company would seem to be desperate to gain a partner of Apple's reputation in order to make a turnaround in the notebook market. Meanwhile, it will be difficult for Apple to move past its current market share for MacBooks with a starting price of $999, as its mainstream PC competitors can provide similar performance for half that amount. Even shaving the price to $799 using cheaper parts would help overcome buyer resistance.

Would you have a problem buying a Mac with AMD, instead of Intel, inside? Or would you prefer Apple to abandon its Intel-only strategy? Let us know in the TalkBack section.

[Via Gizmodo]

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Processors

About

Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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