Apple is in "advanced discussions" with AMD to adopt its microprocessors for some of the company's forthcoming products, according to a report.
If true, it could be a surprising turn of events for the company, which has used Intel chips exclusively in its Mac computers for the last four years.
Representatives for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD have recently been seen on Apple's Commuter Coach buses, and executives for the chipmaker have been spotted on their way out of meetings with members of Apple's top brass, according to people familiar with the matter.
The meetings have reportedly included briefings by AMD that have since enabled Apple to begin working with AMD processors in its labs as part of an initiative to position the chips inside some of the company's forthcoming products. While AMD offers a variety of embedded processors, Apple is believed to be investigating the chipmaker's workstation and notebook class CPUs.
There are two reasons Apple would show interest in AMD, according to the report:
- Apple wants to increase its flexibility and broaden its competitive options
- Apple has encountered problems with Intel, such as limited availability of new processors and new chipset designs that make it difficult for Apple to use Nvidia graphics.
Historically, Apple was interested in Intel's Core family of CPUs, but the company's products come at a premium over those of AMD. Naturally, Apple could also leverage AMD's ownership of Nvidia rival ATI to offer an integrated solution in its future Macs.
But the news also comes on the heels of Apple's announcement of its own A4 ARM system-on-a-chip in the iPad. The question is whether the Cupertino, Calif.-based company wants to develop customized x64 chips for its Macs -- a competitive advantage for sure.
Then again, talk is cheap, and Apple could be talking to AMD just to rile rival Intel, the same way its spoken with rival Microsoft about using Bing search over Google.