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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:04 PM   #1
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Apple Seriously Considered Switching to AMD in 2011 MacBook Air






In an upcoming profile of AMD, Forbes reports that the company's Llano family of Fusion combination CPU-GPU systems was under consideration by Apple to be used as the brains behind the MacBook Air for its 2011 revision. AMD lost out to Intel, however, as the necessary parts were late in being delivered to Apple and had unacceptably high failure rates.
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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.
The company reportedly also pitched Apple on using its Brazos family of Fusion systems in the Apple TV, but Apple proved to be uninterested in the proposal.

Forbes' Brian Caulfield has more on AMD's efforts to lure Apple in a separate article in which he talks further about yield issues on the Fusion chips planned for the MacBook Air.

The claim echoes a November report from SemiAccurate alleging that AMD's Fusion platform was Apple's "Plan A" for the 2011 MacBook Air and that such machines were "on the verge of production" before Apple ultimately decided to stick with Intel.

Apple had been struggling with chip options in its small portables for several years as licensing issues prevented graphics companies such as NVIDIA from developing integrated graphics solutions for Intel's latest processors. With Apple being forced to choose between slower Core 2 Duo processors paired with fast NVIDIA graphics and faster Intel Core i-series processors hampered by slow integrated graphics from Intel, Apple opted to continue using the aging Core 2 Duo processors for much longer than it would have otherwise liked.

Improvements in Intel's integrated graphics did allow Apple to transition to significantly improved Core i5 and i7 processor in the current generation of MacBook Air models, but it seems that Apple was also weighing AMD's offerings as it sought to work its way out of the constraints of Intel's graphics issues.

Article Link: Apple Seriously Considered Switching to AMD in 2011 MacBook Air
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:08 PM   #2
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Not AMD please!
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvpython View Post
Not AMD please!
I've seen videos of people removing the CPU fan on an Intel processor and cause the computer to crash. I've seen videos of people removing the CPU fan on an AMD processor keep chugging along.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:11 PM   #4
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if it works better fine by me. AMD is underrated.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:12 PM   #5
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While there's probably some truth to how Apple tested AMD chips in MBAs and whatnot, I doubt they were even really considering it. Why? Thunderbolt.

They advertised Thunderbolt heavily with the MBP and iMac months before the MBA launched. So why would they produce a line of computers that weren't compatible? That couldn't use the iMac's target display mode? That wouldn't work with a TBD?

So unless AMD had a related technology, I'm guessing we would have seen it come with the MBP and iMac first, long before the MBA.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:12 PM   #6
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AMD's CPUs are horrible... I thought Apple cared about power usage. Intel has done quite a bit of work on that, plus, AMD's implementation of Turboboost is pretty bad...
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by benthewraith View Post
I've seen videos of people removing the CPU fan on an Intel processor and cause the computer to crash. I've seen videos of people removing the CPU fan on an AMD processor keep chugging along.
Actually I saw the exact opposite
PROOF: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxNUK3U73SI
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:12 PM   #8
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I recall in December 2010 there were reports that Apple was "impressed" by the quality of the graphics in the Sandy Bridge processor. My guess is that Apple considered AMD and asked for samples, but primarily as a bargaining chip to use with Intel. The Llano processors have decent graphics but the CPU portion isn't much faster than the Core 2 Duo. Had they gone with Llano, it wouldn't have been much different than if they had stuck with Core 2 Duo and upgraded the GPU.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:14 PM   #9
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Was this not old news from a year ago. AMD again. I like ATI I use them on my Gaming rig but would it really benefit end users if they went over to AMD I don't think so, I would find it hard to believe that AMD had actually come out with something better than Intel that surpass them enough for Apple to change over.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:15 PM   #10
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RE: Disagree?

Between the sources that claim they were close and the sources that claim they weren't as close, all I can say is... I disagree.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:18 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by benthewraith View Post
I've seen videos of people removing the CPU fan on an Intel processor and cause the computer to crash. I've seen videos of people removing the CPU fan on an AMD processor keep chugging along.
I've seen video of Angels floating in the sky with trumpets but I can't show you these video because...

Lets see the links to these incredible CPU that don't falter at processing real resources without a cooling device I am all for seen it.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:20 PM   #12
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I think at some point Apple will switch to AMD so they can raise their profit margins or appeal to lower price points (or a combination of both). However I see a greater chance of Apple using Trinity the performance and power power consumption are much better.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inakto View Post
Actually I saw the exact opposite
PROOF: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxNUK3U73SI
Intel rocks and has the money and talent to move forward. Plus can AMD even pump out enough CPU for Apple to care.

I for one will stay with Intel I can't say anything bad about their Core 2 Quad or i5 and i7 cpu they just work.

GPU is another thing, but the next gen will be I believe a large leap in capacity from what I have read. Not that I need to play Skyrim on my macbook air.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by juliusaugustus View Post
I think at some point Apple will switch to AMD so they can raise their profit margins or appeal to lower price points (or a combination of both). However I see a greater chance of Apple using Trinity the performance and power power consumption are much better.
Why would Apple want to become Dell. Not going to happen.

They will continue to use Intel and ARM happily and we or at least I will enjoy continuing to buy their wonderful iOS and OS for year to come.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KylePowers View Post
While there's probably some truth to how Apple tested AMD chips in MBAs and whatnot, I doubt they were even really considering it. Why? Thunderbolt.

They advertised Thunderbolt heavily with the MBP and iMac months before the MBA launched. So why would they produce a line of computers that weren't compatible? That couldn't use the iMac's target display mode? That wouldn't work with a TBD?

So unless AMD had a related technology, I'm guessing we would have seen it come with the MBP and iMac first, long before the MBA.
If I ask how many people use thunderbolt on their Airs and require it over mini displayport, I'll get a few anecdotal responses. The thing is, it's probably not a deal breaker on an ultra portable, and they come with a half bandwidth chip anyway. This is Apple. They flip flop on things all the time. If they think something else will work better overall, they'll ditch technology a generation later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by juliusaugustus View Post
I think at some point Apple will switch to AMD so they can raise their profit margins or appeal to lower price points (or a combination of both). However I see a greater chance of Apple using Trinity the performance and power power consumption are much better.
I don't think this would do it. Intel wouldn't let Apple use other graphics options (they sued NVidia last time), and that made for a weaker computer for some individuals. Last time they reportedly considered AMD was 2005 right before the transition to X86. One of the concerns cited there was manufacturing capacity. They were worried about AMD keeping up. I truly don't see this happening.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:26 PM   #15
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Pshh. I think the whole AMD vs Intel argument is like Nikon vs Canon. Comparable technologies, but two sides with people that have strong feelings about why their side is better.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:28 PM   #16
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I think apple and intel aren't best of friends anymore, that's what made them consider AMD.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:30 PM   #17
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I thought they were going to switch to fusion. The CPU & GPU combination seemed perfect for the MBA.

AMD needs to get its **** together.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:30 PM   #18
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I think at some point Apple will switch to AMD so they can appeal to lower price points.
That will *never* happen. It hasn't happened in the 30+ years Apple's been in business and it won't happen anytime soon either. Apple doesnt care to give people a better offer. Apple's only care is to suck as much cash out of your wallet as possible for the least amount of work. Theyre a business (and a douchey one lately too) and don't see you as anything more than a dollar sign.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:30 PM   #19
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I hope they get AMD in their lineup somehow. Healthy competition betw/ Intel and AMD can only help us consumers.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:31 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benthewraith View Post
I've seen videos of people removing the CPU fan on an Intel processor and cause the computer to crash. I've seen videos of people removing the CPU fan on an AMD processor keep chugging along.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inakto View Post
Actually I saw the exact opposite
PROOF: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxNUK3U73SI
I am sure an 11 year old video is still an accurate representation of CPU thermal protection today...

Trinity comes in with new 17W SKUs but you are definitely going to take a hit in the CPU department even with Piledriver's performance and power saving improvements. Still, I am sure AMD/Apple could spin combined CPU + fGPU GFLOPS into something.

"Insert OpenCL magic here."
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:33 PM   #21
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I can't imagine Apple would do anything so stupid as to switch to AMD to power the macbook air's. AMD does not have the fabrication technology to produce anything in the 22nm range. They just came out with the 32nm processors in mid/late 2011. When it comes to the macbook air, the key thing is going to be heat production and performance, both of which will be most successful with intel who has already been producing the combination cpu/gpu and will now be scaling down the process to 22nm to allow for an even thinner macbook air.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:34 PM   #22
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Pshh. I think the whole AMD vs Intel argument is like Nikon vs Canon. Comparable technologies, but two sides with people that have strong feelings about why their side is better.
Not even close. AMD vs Intel is not the same as some small camera companies that may not even make their own cameras. More like Ford vs Mercedes Benz both get the job done but I know which one I know I want under the hood.
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Last edited by kiljoy616; Feb 22, 2012 at 11:46 PM.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:35 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by kiljoy616 View Post
Intel rocks and has the money and talent to move forward. Plus can AMD even pump out enough CPU for Apple to care.

I for one will stay with Intel I can't say anything bad about their Core 2 Quad or i5 and i7 cpu they just work.

GPU is another thing, but the next gen will be I believe a large leap in capacity from what I have read. Not that I need to play Skyrim on my macbook air.

----------



Why would Apple want to become Dell. Not going to happen.

They will continue to use Intel and ARM happily and we or at least I will enjoy continuing to buy their wonderful iOS and OS for year to come.
You are absolutely correct. If anything I see apple switching over to ARM processors for the macbook air and producing an entirely new type of machine. Imagine 12+ hour battery life etc.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:36 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by thekev View Post
If I ask how many people use thunderbolt on their Airs and require it over mini displayport, I'll get a few anecdotal responses. The thing is, it's probably not a deal breaker on an ultra portable, and they come with a half bandwidth chip anyway. This is Apple. They flip flop on things all the time. If they think something else will work better overall, they'll ditch technology a generation later.



I don't think this would do it. Intel wouldn't let Apple use other graphics options (they sued NVidia last time), and that made for a weaker computer for some individuals. Last time they reportedly considered AMD was 2005 right before the transition to X86. One of the concerns cited there was manufacturing capacity. They were worried about AMD keeping up. I truly don't see this happening.
I'm talking about using AMD processors in the Macbook Air it would lower manufacturing costs and thus let Apple pocket the profits because people wouldn't notice whether it is AMD or Intel based. Like wise Apple could use the AMD processor solution to ressurect the White macbook. I say it is likely because Apple largely doesn't care about the pro market any more. Just my opinion.
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Old Feb 22, 2012, 11:38 PM   #25
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I can't imagine Apple would do anything so stupid as to switch to AMD to power the macbook air's.
The macbook airs suck for any kind of serious work anyway. Power users running intense photoshop documents or anything of the likes arent going to be running out to buy a macbook air.

The MBA is really geared for basic use like sending photos of your cat to grandma or typing a document in MS Word for your university paper. And in that regards, the AMD cpus are more than capable.
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