Can Apple move from Intel to AMD?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by modernpixel, Apr 21, 2006.

  1. modernpixel macrumors member

    May 15, 2005
    New York, NY
    I've been seeing lots of positive articles about AMD enroaching on Intel's share of the processor market, and a lot of PC people seem to vehemently prefer AMD (almost the way Mac people prefer Apple over Windows.) Also, and onslaught of ads in NYC, where I work and live, has made me curious about the chips.

    If, theoretically, Apple wanted to buy chips from AMD - could it easily just swap them out since they are all x86. Or would it require another round of reprogramming for developers?

  2. ucscc10 macrumors member

    Jan 17, 2006
    it wouldn't require repogramming at all. at least on the software side. logic boards might need to be reconfigured some, but even then i don't know (AMD has slight differences in how they handle some things)...but for now I don't see apple doing anything with AMD
  3. screensaver400 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 28, 2005
    It could be done fairly easily. The OSx86 project people are running OS X illegally on AMD hardware with no real problems related to the chip itself.

    I doubt Apple will, though. Even Dell, with all it's varying configurations, only supplies Intel. Apple would have to use a different motherboard to support AMD chips, for one thing, which would be inconvenient.

    However, the potential switch to AMD is a much easier "Plan B" than Marklar was. If Intel is ever producing horrible chips, Apple could fairly easily switch to AMD. They wouldn't want to use both companies at once, though.
  4. howesey macrumors 6502a

    Dec 3, 2005
    OS X for x86 would require a lot of reprogramming as it is hugly reliant on SSE3, which AMD chips do not have.

    A lot of hardware modifications would also need to be done, example, the NB is not compatible. Which means new drivers would also have to be written.
  5. dr_lha macrumors 68000

    Oct 8, 2003
  6. Abulia macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2004
    Kushiel's Scion
    Technically they could do it (switch to AMD) but they won't anytime soon.

    It would be a PR nightmare for Intel and Apple, plus it would burn some very important business relations. Three different manufacturers of processors in as many years?

    Plus, the Intel switch probably came with some signifigant marketing dollars from Intel for selecting them. I don't believe AMD would be able to offer those same amounts. It's more than just "who has the better processor this quarter," its about a sustained business and marketing relationship.

    And in terms of marketing, Intel can't be beat and that's exactly what Apple needs right now.
  7. badmofo9000 macrumors regular

    Feb 14, 2005
    Shores of Lake Michigan
    Every socket 939 and all the mobile chips currently support sse3.
  8. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    It would be a great idea from a consumer's perspective, and not at all hard to implement. I also suspect that AMD would embrace the concept wholeheartedly.

    But Like Don M. said, it is pratically impossible given the business climate between Intel and AMD. Intel likes the current deal with Apple for two reasons:

    1. They diversify their customer base further without having to make any major changes to their products.

    2. Most importantly, they have an exclusive deal that AMD doesn't have.

    Apple may use AMD CPUs some day, but it won't be for years (unless OS X makes it's way to the vanilla PC, God forbid).
  9. shadowmoses macrumors 68000


    Mar 6, 2005
    This summarises things perfectly, its the exclusive deal that stands beetween Apple using AMD, of course come a few years and Intel are not making great processor's and chipsets Apple may well become AMD.....

  10. Kingsly macrumors 68040


    Why, exactly, do PC users prefer AMD so much?
  11. Abulia macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2004
    Kushiel's Scion
    Hobbists prefer AMD for their price/performance ratio. AMD chips have had a price advantage for several years, were overclock friendly, and led the way with dual core and 64-bit versions. Intel has been playing (slight) catch up for a bit now.

    Intel is still heavily entrenched in the business market by virtue of its arrangement with Dell, strong branding, and excellent marketing. Joe User doesn't know what an Athlon is but he sure as heck knows what a Pentium is.
  12. maxvamp macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2002
    Somewhere out there

    AMD Processors are generally less expensive, and the back room box builders like them, as it is their only possibility to compete against the likes of DELL, who generally gets sweetheart deals.

    Chip wise, they are no better or worse in general, although certain releases will occasionally stomp the snot out of the competition.

  13. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    There are several reasons, some of which aren't totally clear to me, but I do know that:

    1. They equal or beat the performance of the P4 (or any NetBurst architecture CPU) at lower clock speeds (and lower heat dissapation).

    2. The Opteron has established a performance lead in the server market.

    3. Beside the Opteron servers, AMD has also a high reputation among many gamers - I think that gaming really launched AMD as a real competitor when other clone chip makers died out. Vanilla desktop PCs from big OEMs only recently started using AMD.

    It's like a Chevy v.s. Ford debate - there isn't a real winner, but people will argue endlessly about it anyway.

    Suffice to say, both AMD and Intel offer some great CPUs, and some not-so-great CPUs. They're just different. And I'm not very knowlegable on this, so don't take my words for gospel.

    This is just a guess, but would you say that AMD's success might also be due to Intel's choice to go for maximum clock speed with the P4/Itanium rather than higher performance per watt/MHz but lower total speed that AMD acieved?
  14. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

    Dec 21, 2002
    Yahooville S.C.
    Performance for the buck. If you are into gaming and gaming requires more juice then about anything else you want the highest performance for the dollar. You want to feed that video card. One day ill upgrade my machine to Fx60 but for now the 3500+ does just fine. AMD & Mac OSX would be great though i doubt we will ever see it.
  15. DeathChill macrumors 68000

    Jul 15, 2005
    Well, if Intel had been continuing down the road they went with the Pentium 4 I'd say Apple should have gone to AMD, but Intel is improving at such a rapid rate.

    Intel's Core chips (Yonah, Merom, Conroe, and Woodcrest) are just beating the hell out of AMD's current and future chips thus far. Conroe is going to be an amazing desktop chip and Apple obviously knew that Intel was offering some amazing chips in the future and went with them.

    As for changing to AMD, Apple COULD, but it would require Apple to do a bit of recoding as they peppered OS X with GenuineIntel checks to ensure that it's an Intel CPU that OS X is running on.
  16. modernpixel thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2005
    New York, NY
    Thanks everyone for your answers. I definitely agree that Apple wouldn't have any reason to move to AMD, I was just curious (x86 being foreign to me) if it was possible. In the event that Intel get's lazy and makes garbage.

    Thanks to those who pointed out why people like AMD also - that was another one of my questions and a nice bonus to have that answered.

    I actually am really digging Intel's roadmap. It looks really promising and I am dying to see what Apple has in store for the Power Mac (Mac Pro?)

    I am getting a kick out of playing Oblivion on my MacBook Pro -- and am loving this x86 thing more every day, if only Adobe would hurry up.

  17. nylon macrumors 6502a


    Oct 26, 2004
    I definitely would not want Apple to switch to AMD. Although AMD makes excellent chips their production capacity is akin to IBM.

    Apple would again be in a position where the their chip supplier could not deliver the type of volume required. Apple would be sidelined to HP etc that already use AMD chips and have a much larger market share.

    Additionally Intel has a lot of advantages including producing their own chipsets, large R&D budget and mammoth fab capacity. Apple made the right decision by going with Intel.

    If things change in the market I'm sure Apple will remaiin flexible as and when required.
  18. mikes63737 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2005
    1. They cost less.
    2. Sometimes they perform better than a similarly priced Intel chip.
    3. They are easier to overclock.
    4. They're better for gaming. I sit next to a fat kid in Computer Apps class and all he talks about is getting a $10,000 alienware with AMD processors because they're better for gaming... blah blah blah. Quad 7800 GTX SLI graphics... oh wait he told me the 7800 GTX sucks, he's getting Quad 7900 GTX graphics... and then he found out that I built some computers and now he wants me to put it together for him.. :mad:

    Back on topic, many PC users have bought cheap HP computers years ago and most of them have AMD processors. They still believe in the MHz myth, and think that an 1 GHz AMD is faster than a 2.0 GHZ Pentium 4 (which it might be), so when they start building computers they use AMD processors.
  19. emaja macrumors 68000

    May 3, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Huh? Wouldn't that be an example of people ignoring the "megahertz myth?"

    AMD offers better performance for less money. Gamers love them for that very reason. Look at this CNet review where the AMD Athlon 64 dual cores crush the Pentium Ds in every single challenge. Every last one. It wasn't even close.

    People buy Intel because that is the name they know.

    I have never, ever considered an Intel processor for my home-built gaming PCs. They cost more and perform worse. I can take the cash and put it into more RAM or a better video card instead.
  20. howesey macrumors 6502a

    Dec 3, 2005
    There's a huge difference between the two. Perhaps the European Ford cars are made better. :confused:
  21. Timepass macrumors 65816

    Jan 4, 2005
    To answer the orginal poster question yes the switch would be easy no real messy work to do.

    Reason apple didnt go with AMD over intel is
    1) intel moble chips are just better.
    2) intel makes there own Mobo and chip sets amd does not.

    As for desktop chip in performace they are about the same.
    Sever chips AMD is currently the best. They consum less power and put out less heat so less of a cooling issue for rooms they are stored in.

    Before some one post a link to shows intel chips consum less power or something like that. I would like to point out that AMD chips have there memory control built into them so it cause a AMD power rating to be a little higher on the charts because that piece in on the CPU so it counts to the power. Intel memory controler is another part and you have to had about 15w of power to the CPU to compare it to AMD. Intel is releasing a new server chip soon that power rating is below AMD until you add in the memory control and then it breaks even.

    I like AMD over intel because they get more done per dollar of R&D than intel.
  22. generik macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2005
    Not true, for the upcoming Conroe processors Intels not only have the AMDs beat in terms of performance (2.6Ghz > 2.8Ghz) but on prices too ($500 vs $1000). Unfortunately Intel just enjoys too great an economy of scale and they can simply afford to make less over the next few quarters while AMD will be totally destroyed. By buying a Mac you are supporting a monopolistic company. Want to support AMD? Buy a PC.
  23. chasemac macrumors 6502a


    Jan 30, 2005
    In a house.
    Sums it up quite well.:)
  24. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    AMD v.s. Intel is a never-ending debate. The best proof of which is that this thread is already turning into an argument. :)

    Ford Europe is not the same as Ford in the USA. Our Focus, for instance, is inferior to the European model - it uses the old circa 1999 platform, has 2 engine choices and a much squishier suspension srtup, among other things.

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