Next on the list of likely/unlikely suspects is Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor provider. Though it is highly unlikely such a deal would ever pass through regulations (it would probably be slapped down before you could say “antitrust”), it would certainly give Intel a boost in graphics technology, where it has historically lagged.
It’s still highly questionable whether there would actually be any value for Intel acquiring AMD, though, as the smaller firm has not held a leadership position in CPU technology since 2006.
Apple, the world’s largest company, has the biggest war chest of cash and is under pressure from Wall Street to spend it. By buying AMD, Apple could achieve full silicon CPU/GPU independence for its MacBooks. The firm could also migrate off of Imagination Technology’s graphics core for iPad and iPhone.
Despite Apple’s predilection for owning as much technology in its supply chain as possible, however, the firm has a bit of a checkered past working with AMD, including issues with discrete graphics and lost design wins on CPU.
Microsoft is another dark horse not to be overlooked. The firm already buys AMD hardware for Xbox, using a royalty-based model, and is rumored to be working with the firm on the upcoming Xbox 720.
Also, after past issues with hardware partners, Microsoft has shown itself to be interested in taking a more vertical stance, with the recent launch of its Surface tablet. By buying AMD, Microsoft could easily assimilate the company’s technology, given its X86 expertise.
Last, and sadly probably least likely, is Nvidia, AMD’s rival graphics partner. Historically bitter enemies, ATI and Nvidia spent decades duking it out on the graphics front, but buying AMD now would give Nvidia the much needed CPU expertise it needs to challenge Intel and Qualcomm long-term.
The move would also round out Nvidia’s portfolio, boost its enterprise/HPC push and give the company a fully integrated CPU/GPU solution.
Unfortunately, aside from the massive clash of corporate culture involved, the move would likely face regulatory challenges on potential discrete graphics monopoly and the financial costs would also be too high for Nvidia to stomach.
If I was a betting girl, I’d put my money on Samsung, but it’s just as likely that none of the above will ever materialize.
What do you think, readers? Should AMD be bought? And if so, who is your money on?