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daart
05-20-2006, 11:20 PM
"Did Apple make a mistake by switching to Intel? We may never know, but Apple had more options than has been previously reported, The Register can exclusively reveal.

A chip start-up that created a high performance, low power processor compatible with existing Mac software had been working closely with the computer company for many months.

Apple was looking for a new chip supplier largely because it was struggling to find a decent part for its key laptop line. IBM could not deliver the right performance per watt characteristics needed for slim, powerful kit and was struggling to produce chips as efficiently as Apple would like.

PA Semi - a maker of low-power Power processors - formed a tight relationship with Apple - one meant to result in it delivering chips for Apple's notebook line and possibly desktops. The two companies shared software engineering work, trying to see how Apple's applications could be ported onto PA Semi's silicon. When word leaked out that Apple had signed on with Intel, it shocked the PA Semi staff, according to multiple sources.

"PA Semi was counting on that deal," said one source. "They had lots of guys walking around in a daze when Apple went to Intel. They had no idea that would actually happen."

PA Semi secured a large amount of venture funding due in part to the stellar technical reputation of its staff. Former Digital alumni include VP of architecture Peter Bannon - aka Mr. Tanglewood - Leo Joseph, the COO and Jim Keller, the VP of engineering. Several of these engineers did much of the key work behind DEC's Alpha chip, which for much of the 1990s was consistently the fastest microprocessor on the market. Apple and PA also shared some heritage: PA Semi's Wayne Meretsky was formerly the technical lead for Mac OS at Apple during the company's transition to PowerPC.

Behind the scenes, however, the notion of an Apple win helped stoke investor confidence.

PA Semi's first processor - the PA6T-1682M - is due to sample in the third quarter of 2006 as a 2GHz, dual-core product with two DDR2 memory controllers, 2MB of L2 cache, and support for eight PCI Express. The product will ship in volume next year and be followed by single-core and quad-core chips. It also supports the Altivec floating point instruction set that currently provides a massive speedup for multimedia and scientific Mac software. At 2GHz, the chip consumes just 7 watts of power according to PA. Intel's Core Duo consumes between 21 and 25 watts.

It's features such as these that made PA Semi an obvious fit for Apple.

Until now, rumors of a PA Semi and Apple tie-up have been present, albeit thin.

Chip analyst Linley Gwennap of the Linley Group has written in the past that "PA Semi was also widely rumored to have pitched its processor to Apple for use in notebook computers."

In an interview with us, Gwennap clarified his position by saying, "My understanding is that there was certainly interest at Apple, but I don't think anything close to a commitment. I do think there were some pretty high-level discussions going on - possibly something along the lines of, 'We're going to use your product if everything goes well.'"

But sources say the discussions went much further than that, with PA Semi executives thinking they were all but assured the Apple win. One source noted that PA Semi CEO Dan Dobberpuhl [ACM interview] thought Apple's hints of moving to Intel were just a bargaining tactic. The software work the companies were already doing, along with PA Semi's Power ties made it the more practical choice in Dobberpuhl's mind and one that Apple could not avoid.

Dobberpuhl was furious when he learned of the Intel deal, our sources said.

One problem with moving to PA Semi would be that the company was not going to ship its low-power multicore product in volume until 2007. The wait might have been worth it for Apple, since it would require no changes to the company's software base and help it save face by avoiding Intel.

By choosing to move to microprocessors from Intel, Apple has created headaches for some of its most important software partners, who face a difficult and lengthy porting process. Apple has also had to provide a compatibility layer called Rosetta, from Transitive, to run old Power PC software. Such issues could have been avoided if Apple had found a compatible, and competitive chip supplier or two.

PA Semi remains one of the most ambitious silicon start-ups in several years. It has more than 150 employees and abundant venture capital backing. Texas Instruments, one of the company's investors, is believed to be provide the manufacturing fab for the PA chips. The loss of the Apple deal seemed to affect the company's standing in the short-run - it only recently securing another round of founding. Investors, however, must have gotten over the Apple issue, as they just dished out a whopping $50m.

PA Semi now plans to go after the embedded market and to sell chips for storage devices. Dobberpuhl declined to answer our questions about past, current or potential customers. "At this point, I don't want to be more specific about customers," he said.

The company still seems to have a bright future, particularly for a company playing in the ultra-competitive and capital demanding processor market. But it would have become an overnight star had it come out of stealth mode with an Apple win."

link (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/05/19/pasemi_apple/)

t-man152
05-20-2006, 11:50 PM
this brings up a question that ive had for a while.

if a new company starts making processors, can they use existing sockets like socket 939 (AMD) or 775 (intel) without getting permission from the socket's maker (AMD or intel) or do they have to make a new socket and find chipset support for that socket?

and can intel decide to make a processor that runs on AMD's sockets or vice versa.

just a question ive had I know it has nothing to do with the mac thing but just curious

richcz3
05-21-2006, 04:25 AM
In a word "Volume"
If AMD is pressed to produce their own chips en masse even with IBM and others assitance, then how is a small startup going to hope to produce quantity for Apple. Their cost and production would be at the mercy of deals made with chip foundries. Motorola and IBM were no small potatoes in the chip fab industry.

Apple made the right move. I know some Mac stalwarts that hate the idea of using a PC in a Mac form, but even they concede Intel was too big a player not to do business with. Their frustrations with Motorola and IBM had them considering an alternate PC for some work. The Macs precarious speed/benchmark cycles are now cemented squarely with the PC. The speed/perfomance gap issue virtually evaporated overnight. Apple can concentrate squarely on their OS.

John-S
05-21-2006, 07:18 AM
Although I didn't think motorolla has been in the picture for a while now, I do somewhat agree with richcz3. I was a huge fan and still am of the IBM chip. I don't think that the core duos are the best thing yet, I'm waiting for a 64 bit version. And I think IBM had a better multitasking processor then the intel by far....but, I would rather see them square on with a pc's benchmarks then trying to debate with people about the speed difference of IBM vs Intel etc. Computers are so fast these days that I'm learning not to care about the speed as much as the OS, Software and new technologys. Anybody who thinks that Apple is using the whole per watt, heat issue etc as an excuse to switch to intel is blind. IBM made a rock solid chip in my opinion but they hit a wall and were already too hot. I mean in reality I don't think the liquid cooling system is that great becuase I don't think we should need it. I'm no processor guru but thats just my thoughts.....
(plus I forgot to mention that IBM put Apple on the backburner anyways after getting their new customers....)

I'm glad to see them with intel now. I'm not currently interested in any of their chip lineups but maybe the powermac will impress me. I'm confident that intel will be a great for their next line of chips : )

One question (honostly asking),
isn't AMD chips not comparable to intel the same way that Apple chips weren't? (like 2 gig against 2 gig) Are we still going to have to question the benchmarks of those 2 chips?

CupOWonton
05-21-2006, 08:24 AM
One question (honostly asking),
isn't AMD chips not comparable to intel the same way that Apple chips weren't? (like 2 gig against 2 gig) Are we still going to have to question the benchmarks of those 2 chips?

Everything in those 2 instances gets handled differently because of the processors and chipsets. I like AMD's, my original 1 point something ghz processor was an AMD and ran great. I ran win 98 on it just to see how fast it was, and it would load the OS before the screen ever turned on completly. Same wth my 2.8ghz Pentium though. Youre going to have to see benchmarks realy, especialy if Apple were to try and use both Intell and AMD systems with their os. The more you spread your OS out, the more issues you have. But, thats how you cover a market a lot better, by making your OS available to many different configurations.

John-S
05-21-2006, 09:34 AM
Thanks. I see your at 999 eh?

maX_Andrews
05-21-2006, 10:40 AM
Apple could not have waited until 2007. The powerbooks were pushing 1.67ghz G4 chips and were EXPENSIVE even compared to the macbook pro. There was no way they could fit an IBM chip inside a laptop, and the speed bump before the macbook pro release was barely enaough to even call a speed bump. G4 was done, G5 was out of the question, and they would have to wait more than a full year before these brand new chips could be used? Sales would have been stagnant by now and stock would be down down down down. Intel was really the only way to go. Sucks for the startup though, seems they are doing well again, so yay!

Srek
05-21-2006, 11:39 AM
if a new company starts making processors, can they use existing sockets like socket 939 (AMD) or 775 (intel) without getting permission from the socket's maker (AMD or intel) or do they have to make a new socket and find chipset support for that socket?
and can intel decide to make a processor that runs on AMD's sockets or vice versa.

The socket alone helps nothing. It's the chip architecture and bussystem behind it that makes the difference and needs to be licensed.
Cheers
Björn

Tlock
05-21-2006, 03:54 PM
I can't imagine that the move to intel shoud have been such a surprise to anyone considering that Steve Jobs said during his presentation of the Intel move that they have been developing an Intel version of OSX right from the start. If this is true than if these guys were so close to Apple shouldn't they have seen development throughout the Apple development projects.

albedo4800hp
05-21-2006, 04:30 PM
Good ol' Steve hasn't changed!

habañero
05-22-2006, 12:09 PM
What would be sweet would be for the desktop apples to use AMDs. They lack the notebook processor equivalent of the core duo, but the opteron AM2 line could make for avesome cool, and low power desktop macs today.

Thalaxis
05-22-2006, 08:02 PM
this brings up a question that ive had for a while.

if a new company starts making processors, can they use existing sockets like socket 939 (AMD) or 775 (intel) without getting permission from the socket's maker (AMD or intel) or do they have to make a new socket and find chipset support for that socket?


That depends on a very wide variety of factors, starting with what interface protocols the new processor uses. For a long time, AMD and Cyrix survived by matching Intel's interface specifications, so they were pin-compatible with Intel's processors. This had a lot of disadvantages that nearly bankrupted AMD, and pretty much did Cyrix in, in spite of Cyrix's partnership with IBM and their subsequent acquisition by National Semiconductor, who later sold them to Via:

AMD and Cyrix were very constrained when it came to implementing new technology -- like faster memory buses
AMD and Cyrix weren't exactly a high priority for Intel's QA department
It was quite feasible for Intel to tweak their chipsets to render AMD and Cyrix processors unstable without compromising their own (whether or not they actually DID this is very uncertain, I'm making no claim one way or another on that)
AMD and Cyrix were usually behind Intel in implementing support for newer platforms, because they had to wait on Intel
So while a newcomer to the x86 market COULD use Socket 939, or AM2, or 754, it would be very risky, and when combined with the staggeringly high barriers in terms of just getting the processors designed, fabricated, and shipping, it probably wouldn't be a wise risk to accept.

agreenster
05-22-2006, 08:14 PM
Intel was the right move.

Startup = more risk than Apple could afford. They were already in deep crap not having update their powerbook in forever, and were running the risk of serious obsoletion. Now, Apple has slick computers, as fast as the competition, and in mass volumes.

Twas the right move, no question

3DDave
05-22-2006, 08:19 PM
It is quite typical for semi-conductor hardware manufactures (like Apple) to work with, evaluate and give hope to alternative companies to gain leverage where and when they (Apple) need it. PA Semi should have been at least aware that they were taking a ride with Apple with no guarantee of a deal at the end. Engineering brain power is great, but you also need someone with business skills to work the deals.

monovich
05-22-2006, 10:05 PM
I think Intel was the right move also. Everyone was sick of waiting for better processors from IBM/Moto et. al.

There had to be a reason they didn't chose AMD, even though I wish they had just because my AMD desktop outshines my Xenon desktop so drastically.

I wonder if Apple will now use specific Intel server chips in it's servers in order to better differentiate them from it's Intel desktop line when it comes out. I'd always thought their server hardware was pretty stupid aside from the 1u servers they sell which are nice for size.

-s

Thalaxis
05-22-2006, 11:05 PM
There had to be a reason they didn't chose AMD, even though I wish they had just because my AMD desktop outshines my Xenon desktop so drastically.


Just wait until you get your hands on the next Xeon... it'll handily outperform everything AMD has out right now. AMD obviously knows this; what they're planning for the K8L makes it pretty clear that they're taking Intel's next-generation architecture very seriously. I think we'll have a real processor war again soon.


I wonder if Apple will now use specific Intel server chips in it's servers in order to better differentiate them from it's Intel desktop line when it comes out. I'd always thought their server hardware was pretty stupid aside from the 1u servers they sell which are nice for size.


If they do, they'd be going up against a large market that's hugely dominated by Linux. It would a serious uphill battle, and not one that Apple's likely to make any real headway in anytime soon, so it's more likely that they'll choose to go after Sony than Dell, because they've already shown that they can do a better job with consumer electronics than Sony can. My guess is that Apple will go after the MS Media Center as well, because I think Apple would make a killing on it.

iTiVo, anyone? :)

John-S
05-23-2006, 02:14 AM
iTivo? The mac mini has been rumored to be released with DVR for a long time. Frontrow is supposed to be the competitior for Windows media. I personally am not sure about the DVR and Tv tuner thing until they see how far they can take itunes for tv and movie downloads. Might ruin that business a little. I would like to see some surround sound action though.

Anyways, as far as the intel instead of AMD move. I believe AMD claimed that Apple never even talked to them about it. Apple claims that they have been working on the intel stuff for the past 5 years in secret on the apple campus. If all this is true then I don't think AMD was as strong of a competitor back then. If I remember right they were busy wineing about intels monopoly etc. So my point being is that Apple made the choice 5 years ago and after all that money and time spent they may have checked out this other chip maker but I'm sure the decision was already made.

I could be off but thats just my take....

enygma
05-23-2006, 05:54 AM
Wasn't the decision that they made an x86 version for OS X since 10.0 rather than an OS X for Intel?

I can see why Apple decided to make the switch to Intel as opposed to AMD though, but I'm a little foggy if they had intel in mind or not since the beginning.

John-S
05-23-2006, 06:20 AM
I'm basing my info off of the keynote in 2005.

http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/wwdc05/
about 23 mins 30 seconds in

Apple has created OS X since the start to run on both intel and IBM chips. The start was 5 years ago. See what I mean about why not AMD : )

Beamtracer
05-23-2006, 11:27 AM
I was never happy with Apple's switch to the x86 platform.

PowerPC always produced better laptops that used a fraction of the power. The old discontinued PowerPC iBook ran 6 hours on each battery charge.

Throughout most of its history, Intel's laptop processors have drawn considerably more wattage than PowerPC. Even the new MacBooks draw more power than their predecessors.

The problem for PowerPC came in the end when IBM didn't want to create a low wattage "G5" class processor.

Maybe 'PA Semi' would have been the answer. From what I can tell they are chip designers, and would have used another company to actually fabricate them in volume.

Srek
05-23-2006, 01:04 PM
See what I mean about why not AMD : )
Not realy, the AMD chips are practicaly completely interchangable with the intel chips. There is no technical reason why OS X shouldn't run on AMD instead of Intel processors.

Imo a major but often overlooked part is that Intel is much more then a manufacturer of processors. Different to AMD and any other processors manufacturer they are the main manufacturer and developer for matching chipsets and compilers at the same time. The over all package from Intel is much more interesting to a company like Apple then AMD can ever be. A short lived difference in processor performance can not offset this advantage.
Cheers
Björn

pixelmonk
05-23-2006, 01:12 PM
What would be sweet would be for the desktop apples to use AMDs. They lack the notebook processor equivalent of the core duo, but the opteron AM2 line could make for avesome cool, and low power desktop macs today.

you can run OSX on an AMD provided you have certain specs (which are expanding weekly).

John-S
05-23-2006, 06:23 PM
Not realy, the AMD chips are practicaly completely interchangable with the intel chips. There is no technical reason why OS X shouldn't run on AMD instead of Intel processors.
I don't know much on technical things about processors etc. Just what it appears to me....

Srek
05-23-2006, 06:36 PM
I don't know much on technical things about processors etc. Just what it appears to me....
You are mixing up Intel as a company, with which Apple decided to cooperate, and Intel as a standard for Microprocessor architecture. AMD, Via and some other smaller companies produce processors that are compatible to the Intel x86 architecture.
As a company Intel has much more to offer then just processors. If it were only for the chips AMD would have been an about equaly good alternative for Apple.
Cheers
Björn

beaker
05-24-2006, 12:39 AM
IThere had to be a reason they didn't chose AMD, even though I wish they had just because my AMD desktop outshines my Xenon desktop so drastically.
-sbecause over half Apple's computer sales are laptops. The pentium M based solutions are much better for the portable market.

beaker
05-24-2006, 12:44 AM
Apple has created OS X since the start to run on both intel and IBM chips. The start was 5 years ago. See what I mean about why not AMD : )It was started long before 5 years ago. OSX is based on NeXT Step/Open Step which ran on Intel processors back when Apple first bought NeXT. When Apple first started porting Open Step from Intel to Powerpc. Officially they kept the Intel version going through till just before the first official beta of osx. I actually still have the Rhapsody cd's.

http://static.flickr.com/44/152109715_481a643681.jpg

John-S
05-24-2006, 06:36 AM
Good stuff beaker : )

I only said the 5 year thing becuase of the keynote. I think Jobs may have just been bringing out that they have been working in that building (on intel os x) on Apple Campus or something for the past 5 years and maybe he wasn't meaning the roots of it....

Anyways, your post got me interested in a little facts search. I knew that Jobs was NeXt and NeXt was OS X etc but I didn't ever think about the processors. Nice CD's by the way....LOL I did find alot of truth behind the laptop processors etc like you brought out also (meaning that being a big part of the switch). Another thing, Apple never stated that they weren't working on AMD all this time either....

Throughout my search I found a couple things mentioned about Classic. That brought sweat to my face just thinking about it (not really). Seriously, Classic was the absolute best, worst thing I've ever used. It would make me soooooo mad! But at other times, Happy. Overall, I hate thinking back to it.....

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