Strictly rumor: Apple pondering AMD chips

AppleInsider is reporting that Apple may adopt AMD processors. Anything is possible.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

AppleInsider is reporting that Apple is in discussions to adopt processors from Advanced Micro Devices. Anything is possible, I suppose, but this will remain in the highly-speculative department until I see an actual AMD-powered Apple product.

And let's clarify one thing up front: Apple already uses AMD chips in the form of ATI graphics processors. But AppleInsider is referring to AMD silicon that contains one of its "x86" Intel-compatible microprocessors. Since 2006, Apple has been using Intel processors exclusively.

If an Apple-AMD deal came to fruition (and, again, that's a big if), this would be a PR win for AMD but I can't see Apple using any current or near-term AMD chips in a big way. AMD's mobile processors, for instance, just aren't competitive with Intel's.

One of the most plausible reasons for Apple-AMD discussions is the chipset limitations--as posited by AppleInsider--that Apple is now facing with Intel's Core i5 and i7 processors. (Chipsets are silicon that accompany the main processor.) With Core i series processors, Apple is now forced to use Intel chipsets and no longer has the option to use an Nvidia chipset as it did in the MacBook Air and prior MacBook Pro models. So, recent history shows that Apple has not been satisfied with Intel chipsets.

Another believable scenario is that Apple may be simply seeking a second source of processors to keep Intel honest. But, again, a deal probably wouldn't result in a large amount of business for AMD.

Apple declined to comment.

For the record, here's what AMD said Friday: "Apple and AMD have an ongoing partnership for desktop discrete graphics. We cannot comment on any rumor or speculation."