Why hasn't Apple acquired AMD?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by VirtualRain, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Apple could acquire AMD for a few billion dollars and own their own desktop x86 CPUs and GPU technology rather than paying a premium for Intel CPUs (and either AMD or Nvidia GPUs).

    I guess part of the reason is that AMD just doesn't have a competitive x86 product.

    I'm also guessing someone at Apple has done the math and it's cheaper in the long-run to just buy these components in volume rather than own the R&D and manufacturing.

    Or perhaps, they see their own ARM chips pushing up into laptop territory (where the volume of Intel chips are used) and thus x86 is not the future.

    What do you all think?
  2. Lauwie macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2011
    There is some logical reasoning in this idea...

    I think I don't need to mention AMD's papers are quite bad to say the least, and thus from this perspective it seems a stupid idea.
    If Apple would for some reason choose to buy AMD I'm don't think (not sure though) the FTC or other regulators would allow it because Intel and Nvidia would basically have a monopoly because if Apple chose to buy AMD it's extremely unlikely they'd put let other companies use their chipsets.

    A scenario that is entirely possible however is that Apple and AMD engineers work together to design completely custom chips, as Apple already has people with experience on designing semi custom CPU and GPUs in their A-serie SOCs.

    Dumping ARM for x86 would be the worst decision ever and would make me hate Apple if they would ever do it.
    It doesn't make any sense at all tbh. ARM is way slower at General tasks let alone when doing general work and they are very far away feature wise (Things like VTx-D; SSE,... and all kinds of improvements AMD and Intel have brought to the x86 architecture over the years).
  3. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan, Jul 6, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015

    SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040


    Jul 4, 2015
    The rumour is that most of Apple's desktop machines will move to ARM. The most top end iMac and MacBook Pro model will stay x86 for compatability with traditional apps not yet ported to ARM. So iOS will become a desktop operating system for most models.

    I predict OS X x86 will be made available to be installed on any PC to compete against Windows directly. Kext signing, non EFI cards, free operating system, and Metal are important parts of this to ensure competitiveness against Windows. This groundwork has now been laid.

    This will happen in around 2 years when iOS is ready to move to the consumer and office desktop environment. There will be no more Mac Pro from that point on.

    For developers of both iOS and OS X it will mean much greater opportunities. For Apple it means they can concentrate on consumer products and revenue from their online stores.

    They don't need to invest money on AMD. They already have laid the foundation for a lot of growth to come.
  4. ActionableMango macrumors 604


    Sep 21, 2010
    1) I can't see Apple spending $2 billion getting into AMD's failing CPU/GPU business in order to get a discount on purchases. It's far easier to use their purchasing power to simply push for razor thin margins. This is well known as Apple's strategy for all of their suppliers, and almost certainly something they are already doing when buying AMD's GPUs.

    2) I very much doubt that Apple pays a premium for Intel processors. As one of Intel's biggest customers, and the 5th largest PC maker in the world, they probably get substantial discounts on CPUs. They probably get other concessions too, such as direct input on features and design goals for future products. In fact, Apple probably doesn't pay a premium to any supplier that has a capable competitor.

    3) Historically, they don't seem to have any interest in purchasing AMD CPUs anyway, except perhaps as a potential threat when bargaining with Intel.
  5. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    Where is Apple if AMD drops out of making GPUs? The Mac Pro is toast, but it looks like it is the final act in Apple's workstation lineup. Apple would probably terminate the Mac Pro model line rather than tool up proprietary Maxwell cards for the Tube.

    Laptops - mobile Maxwells are kicking ATI's butt, so Apple could quickly switch.

    AMD is no longer making competitive - particularly with respect to power consumption - GPUs. Nvidia has leap-frogged ATI on the high end and mid-range (including mobile), and Intel kills them on the low end.

    I started out here to make a point that Apple might buy AMD to secure their GPU supply - but realized that Apple doesn't need AMD for GPUs. Tim isn't Steve, he'll swap suppliers as soon as it makes sense. (And expect major marketing when Apple can say "now supports CUDA".)

    Intel survived the Netburst (Pentium 4) misstep - since the Pentium 4s were pretty good even if way too power-hungry. Whether AMD can survive the Bulldozer blunder is a different question.
  6. filmak macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2012
    between earth and heaven
    These are very nice thoughts, but...

    Imho they have invested a lot in Mac App store, there is a huge collection of apps for OS X, of course not all of them are grade A, but if they 're moving to ARM cpus, they will render it obsolete for their own computers and available to the now called hackintoshes? After so many years of building this closed eco system?

    What about their profits, their image, their philosophy for controlled and closed Mac enviroment?

    Given is that the Arm cpus are less powerful so they can't even have an emulated x86 environment running for compatibility reasons ...
  7. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040


    Jul 4, 2015
    Over two years is plenty of time to get the apps ready and ported to ARM. Apple has the best porting tools in the industry.

    No I don't think the ARM systems will be emulating x86. They will phase out the x86 systems and then OS X will be released to be installed for free on any PC.

    I think the next Mac Pro will be the last one. If it has the universal TB3-USB 3.1 connectors and a couple of PCIE slots I would get it.
  8. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    FTC wouldn't allow Apple to buy AMD

    AMD would lose it's X86 license

    Apple wouldn't get any fabs

    Apple doesn't build anything


    If Apple plans on continuing to use AMD Apple will take a stake in AMD and probably inject some capital into R&D.
  9. Zorn, Jul 7, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015

    Zorn macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2006
    I don't think Apple will buy AMD, but this comment makes no sense. Assuming they actually wanted to, it would be great from a competitive standpoint. AMD has been losing money and marketshare to Intel, having someone like Apple with tons of money to spend on R&D and major engineering chops would be great for AMD.
  10. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    What doesn't make sense?
  11. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    a bit in reverse order....

    1. That this has only extremely tenuous linkage to the topic of Mac Pro.

    2. It is grossly bad idea that is far outside Apple's past behavior or acquisition strategy.
    [ And no, the PowerPC, and ARM design shops they acquired are not similar in a specific sense; only hand-wavingly similar. ]

    3. Likely will generation more Nvidia fanboy vs AMD fanboy tit-for-tat thread contributions than anything insightful.

    The question largely unanswered and deeply unmotivated is whether Apple needs its own desktop CPU/GPU. Why can't they use what is generally available and funded by the overall market? Control just for control sake is silly. Apple doesn't really practice that.

    A minuscule part of the reason. Even if it was more competitive (it is likely competitive enough to get some concessions out of Intel ), it doesn't answer any strategic objective question for Apple.

    Just because Apple has billions doesn't mean they have to blow it. They have the money because the investors expect them to invest it in a way to earn a better than return. Buying AMD doesn't what? Apple already has about the highest industry average for its portfolio of classic laptop/desktop product line up. If Mac profit margins were collapsing maybe there would be a strategic/tactic reason, but they are not.

    The math is more so about sharing R&D and manufacturing costs with others.

    It is doubtful they are drink that much Cupertino Kool-aid. Apple's ARM chips are substantially customize to run extremely well in iPhones and iPads.... not laptops. Better than laptop territory from 5+ years ago, but not necessarily better than what is available on future product roadmaps.

    ARM designs are magically better thermally just because they are ARM.


    Sure the 810 would do incrementally better if a tablet or chromebook like enclosure, but it also indicative if they try to push the envelope closer to where Intel's CPU largely are now they have the same kinds of issues to juggle. The general architecture that ARM uses is not a magic bullet.

    Apple has a 3 , not 4-8 core design. For a phone/tablet that runs one application (along with strictly limited background tasks ) at a time that count of 3 is plenty.
  12. deconstruct60, Jul 7, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015

    deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Maybe, maybe not. The 'test' of x86 supplier isn't the right one. With decent lawyers (and Apple can certainly afford them), it is a question of CPU vendor market; not one specific design.

    If Apple was coordinating with Intel to damage other system vendors ability then perhaps.

    More accurate AMD would disappear so the license disappears. The x86 license that AMD has is non transferrable. Intel doesn't have to license x86. So if someone destroys that license the FTC isn't really stop that from happening. They can frown on it, but stop no.

    AMD has both a huge asset ( a now extremely rare x86 license) and a poison pill ( the license evaporates if AMD isn't AMD anymore).

    Even if got some lawyers to tap dance around loosing the license, Apple doesn't want to compete head-on-head with Intel. There is no where near enough Mac volume to support that kind of competition.

    There is a lunatic fringe ARM fanboy crowd that perhaps thinks Apple will take all of AMD design talent and apply it to another ARM variant optimized for desktop. Again, there is little volume support in the Mac line up to support a team that still pragmatically competing head-on-head with Intel. ARM isn't winning any major battles on Intel's home turf now and there is little to show they are going to make much progress over the short term. Apple's ARM projects go where ARM paves the way. Right now desktop, high end laptop space and mainstream desktop is not where ARM is going right now. ARM isn't crazy either. ARM wants to operate at the edges of Intel product line; not take them on directly across the heart of Intel's core "home turf".

    That's OK because they don't want any and AMD doesn't have any.

    There is a very limited subset. But largely yes, Apple tends to prefer to spend the costs of manufacturing around to other players to reduce they amount they have to pay. Apple sticks to high differentiation as to what they do inhouse and leave the more generic problems to others.

    Apple can simply do that by buying stuff (and a reasonable amount of prepayment for stuff that they want that need a relatively high upfront R&D resource allocation). The same way they add to the Intel R&D pool by buying stuff. I think Apple does go too far Scrooge McDuck and when it attempts to suck all the margin out of some components.

    Where AMD has respectable completive products and is willing to adapt to Apple design requests Apple can tip the scales to get them design bake off wins. Apple does want Nvidia and Intel to have to compete to get into Mac designs. ( Samsung is jumping through hoops to get component business they lost back. ).

    AMD's stock is very volatile so it isn't a good place to part Apple's investment cash.
  13. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    AMD has the X64 license.
  14. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    If iOS is a competitive desktop OS, what does Apple need OS X for? If iOS moves into the OS X space, OS X is going to loose.

    Apple isn't a "hardware" company or a "software" company. They are system are systems company. They are best at selling stuff that is more integrated than not. OS X will never be purely decoupled from Apple hardware. That is beyond extremely unlikely to happen. It is not completely impossible, but Apple would be a 99.99% different company strategically if they switched to that strategy. The Clone Wars were over almost two decades ago. Nobody running Apple even remotely wants to go back to that now.

    iOS likely to split but current indications that is more along the "Watch OS" / "iOS" path than up into the core of OS X space.



    OS X doesn't need to be decoupled from hardware any more than Watch OS and iOS are decoupled from there hardware. On the hardware front the hardware space that OS X is broader and more robust than what the other two have to cover.
    OS X has and will likely continue to have a substantial number of important pieces of software that are delivered outside the App Store. Stuff like AppThinning won't be a solution for the whole ecosystem.
  15. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    which is pretty much pragmatically useless without the more basic x86 license. Yes, AMD is engaged with a cross licensing deal with Intel ( I'm under impression that mainly concern tech going forward, not backwards. It was bargaining chip to keep AMD in the game of evolving instruction set growth.... not a completely stranglehold on Intel's core business.). AMD can implode that that doesn't take Intel with them (Intel has rights past any implosion). But it is AMD that has the relationship. The acquirer has a decent bargaining chip to go back to Intel for a new deal, but it is not as good as the position AMD has now. Likely going to loose ground on future stuff. Especially if taking the AMD x86 implementations "private" and off the market.

    Buying AMD to continue to work a full range solution competitor in the open market against Intel might work if can walk the edges. Apple wants a computer components subdivision like they want another hole in the head.
  16. ActionableMango, Jul 7, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015

    ActionableMango macrumors 604


    Sep 21, 2010
    Wow, bold prediction, and I disagree. I can't see this happening, even as far as two years from now. For one thing, the thought of Cupertino filled with Dells and HPs instead of Macs seems out of place to me.

    It's already hard for large companies to have large growth. For Apple to give up on such a profitable part of the company means they'll have to work even harder in consumer products to make up for the loss from dropping Macs. iPads sales have been declining for a long time now. Too early to tell how much revenue the Watch and next gen Apple TV will provide.

    Considering that Macs pull in more revenue than iPads, I don't see Apple giving up on Macs any time soon.
  17. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040


    Jul 4, 2015
    Yeah if it happens I don't know if Apple will license it to the major companies. It could be just a free download like Ubuntu. Jobs was going to licence OS X to Sony on there one condition that they design really good machines. Well...now many home built workstations and gaming rigs look so damn awesome and better than anything sold by the corporates so OS X wouldn't look out of place on them.
  18. ActionableMango macrumors 604


    Sep 21, 2010
    Well, as much as I don't think this will happen, I'm sort of rooting for it. The loss of slots and bays from the Mac Pro line means my next computer will be a PC. I would love to have OS X on it without hackintosh troubles.
  19. Stacc macrumors 6502a

    Jun 22, 2005
    This notion is ridiculous. Besides the many, many problems that deconstruct highlighted, AMD chips are simply not as fast or efficient as Intel's. Products like the Macbook or the Mac Pro wouldn't be possible given AMDs chip lineup. Apple owning AMD won't change this, or at least not for a long time.

    Not to mention, back in the PowerPC days Apple paid IBM and motorola to develop chips for them, and it simply wasn't profitable or possible to beat intel at designing CPUs for desktops and laptops. Intel develops very good CPUs, this is part of the reason why AMD is so far behind.
  20. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040


    Jul 4, 2015
    I'm sure Apple is tracking how many Hackintoshes are out there.
  21. tuxon86 macrumors 65816

    May 22, 2012
    Watch out for the rainbow colored ninjas that will come in the night to destroy them when Tim gives the order :)
  22. dray67 macrumors newbie


    May 4, 2011
    Quite a bold statement and while I disagree I wouldn't say never, Apple have a tendency to surprise people.

    Reason I cant see it happening is because if Apple made OS X available to all, why would people buy Macs in any form when you can purchase or build cheaper and have OS X, so with that in mind I think their system sales would take a big hit, just my opinion, and Apple are steadily increasing their market share in home pc's and they make a big deal of it and it seems obvious that they have a lot of focus there.

    Don't get me wrong I like Apple design and even though a windows laptop would serve me just as well as my rMBP I love OS X and I love the whole rMBP package so it's a luxury I allow myself every 3-4 years.

    That said I still wouldn't bet against your prediction. :)
  23. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    While I obviously posted a few reasons why it hasn't happened (and likely won't in the future), I hadn't considered the terms of the x86 license.

    Interestingly, I missed this back in March... where rumours were circulating that Samsung was mulling an AMD acquisition...

    Apple definitely doesn't seem interested in owning any parts of it's supply or manufacturing chain. It's core competencies are industrial design, software engineering, and supply chain management. Perhaps that's enough.
  24. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040


    Jul 4, 2015
    The main two reasons I think it could happen is that they removed the EFI necessity in graphics cards but only cMP owners noticed this quiet change. And the other reason is that they can never impress the market with Metal if they just have it running on mobile GPUs. Windows gamers would laugh.
  25. Atisha macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2012
    I don't see how Apple would create a Mac OS for x86 PCs. ARM is going to be the doom for all of us. Yeah, one day a significant breakthrough in microprocessors will create some 10 year transition where every tech company and consumer feel they must adjust, like with HD TV the past 10 years. ARM is not going to be that. It'll be a way for Apple to save money and probably make their handheld devices slightly faster.

    Either Apple, or Apple fans want to pretend that "professionals" will readily accept the transition. Let me ask, what "professionals" are left? Because before, at least in my industry, it was Adobe and Final Cut. Adobe apps are on Windows, and no professional uses Final Cut X except for cutting quick wedding videos. What will happen is consumers will buy iPads like they used to before, have no idea what is going on, the "professionals" will be long gone, and the gamers will be long, long gone.

    I've used Macs since I was a child and the past 8 years have definitely been the best time for a Mac user, solely because of Intel processors and Bootcamp. The best thing that Apple has going for them right now is Mac OS, which is honestly a superior OS to everything out there, and nearly universal hardware compatibility -- to the point of Hackintoshes being an issue for Apple.

    Think about companies we take for granted like Blizzard. There is no way they'd make Mac products anymore.

    I feel like this is going to be the end of Apple as we know it, like when Nintendo made themselves a company dedicated to children's games. My next comp purchase might have to be my first PC -- better to prepare early.

Share This Page