According to EE Times, the Department of Defense is reviewing Apple's reported acquisition of a PowerPC processor maker. The concern is over an embedded chip, the PA Semi 1682, which is used by the military.
"The [PA Semi] 1682 is a very important and unique component required to meet performance requirements on a wide variety of defense applications," said an investigator working in the industrial policy unit for the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense.
"The Department of Defense had extensive discussions with various prime contractors and subcontractors on the matter," the investigator continued. "We discussed our findings with the FTC and Apple. The issue is still a matter under discussion," he said in an email exchange.
The story then repeats the "suggestions by observers" that an in-house PowerPC capability would be an "excellent bargaining chip for Apple in regular negotiations with its main vendor, Intel Corp."
As I've suggested before, this notion of playing Intel against PowerPC is nonsense. There is no chance of this embedded chip replacing any of the Intel processors. Come on!
In addition, I don't see why the DOD can't find another partner for these designs. From the EE Times coverage, PA Semi's partners are already fleeing the ship.
On April 21, PA Semi informed its customers it was being acquired and could no longer guarantee supplies of its chips. The startup said the acquiring company was not interested in its products or road map but had purchased the 150-person company for its intellectual property and talent. PA Semi did not identify Apple but said the acquiring company might be willing to supply the chips on an end-of-life basis, if it could successfully transfer a third-party license to the technology.
Of course, the DOD hates the word "if." Still, that worry may not be enough to stop this deal.