Apple keeping PA Semi chips around for military

Apple doesn't really want the Pwrficient chips it acquired from PA Semi along with the chipmaker's engineers and patents, but it's going to keep them around for a period of time to satisfy PA Semi's current heavy-hitting customers.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit

Apple will be a chipmaker--of sorts--for a while after its acquisition of PA Semi as it satisfies demand for that company's current product.

The Register is reporting that Apple will support PA Semi's current Pwrficient processors after it finalizes the purchase of the company. Apple CEO Steve Jobs indicated after his company bought PA Semi that its primary interest in the chipmaker was for the company's talent and patents, not the actual chips themselves.

But PA Semi counts some pretty influential organizations among its user base, such as the U.S. Department of Defense, which uses military systems built around Pwrficient chips, and apparently likes them. EETimes had reported that Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, two prominent defense contractors, planned to complain to the DoD after hearing that PA Semi couldn't guarantee the supply of those chips after it was acquired.

Apparently the parties have managed to work out a deal that satisfies all concerned. The DoD could have caused problems for Apple by holding up the acquisition, but Apple could fairly easily cut a deal with a third-party foundry to manufacture the Pwrficient chips and dedicate a few PA Semi employees to managing that business, as El Reg suggests. Apple will not, however, continue to produce new versions of the Pwrficient chip, meaning the defense industry will have to look elsewhere at some point.