• New Forbes Profile Claims Apple Came Close to Using AMD Chips in 2011 MacBook Air

    Apple has long enjoyed special treatment from Intel, receiving the latest versions of desktop and laptop processors before they become available to PC manufacturers. But, last year rumors of Apple’s displeasure with Intel began to surface. An upcoming Forbes profile of AMD appears to confirm those rumors.

    In the profile Forbes claims Apple considered AMD’s Llano family of Fusion combo CPU-GPU systems as the heart of the 2011 MacBook Air. However, AMD was unable to deliver the necessary parts in time, and those that were, exhibited unacceptable failure rates.

    AMD struggled with its new fabless model while trying to crank out “fusion” processors that combined a CPU and a GPU in a single part. On paper the idea was promising. A notebook processor dubbed “Llano” got a close look from Apple for an update to the ultralight MacBook Air, scheduled for launch in mid-2011.

    But, AMD couldn’t get early working samples of Llano to Apple on time, one former employee says. Several former AMD employees disagree on just how close AMD came. “We had it,” one says. But too many of the Llano parts were faulty. AMD lost the deal.
    While it is unclear exactly how close AMD came to securing the deal, Apple is in no way completely satisfied with Intel. Apple’s processor struggles stem from Intel’s attempts to monopolize the notebook integrated processor market. Intel refuses to license the proper technologies to NVIDA and other graphics companies to develop the proper integrated graphic solutions for the faster iSeries (i3, i5, i7) of mobile processors. Apple could either choose slower Core 2 Duo chips with better NVIDIA graphics or the iSeries with Intel’s slower integrated graphics solutions. This problem only relates to the MBA as the lack space in the design prevents Apple from including a discrete graphics card.

    However, I do find it hard to believe Apple would sacrifice Thunderbolt functionality in the MBA in favor of AMD’s integrated CPU+GPU solutions. But, if relations with Intel in the mobile market continue to go south Apple could very well make the move.

    Source: Forbes [via MacRumors]
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