Apple's fingerprints may or may not be all over the collaboration between ancient rivals in the microprocessor market.
Hell has frozen over. Pigs have flown, and dogs and cats are living together. Broadcom is trying to buy Qualcomm, and Intel is marketing a multi-chip package that combines its processor and with a discrete graphics chip from AMD.
The Broadcom-Qualcomm thing can best be explained by Hock Tan's quest for world domination. Tan told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week: "When a business in No. 1 in technology and No. 1 in market position, we acquire it and put it on our Broadcom platform and grow through that strategy." Sounds reasonable. But it's really hard to see this deal coming to pass for a number of reasons.
As for the Intel-AMD alliance, that might be even more interesting, particularly given that just days after the announcement came word that Intel had hired away AMD's graphics chip head to give developing a discrete graphics competitor to AMD and Nvidia a third try. Intel may have shown that it's willing to step away from the "not invented here" dogma, but when push comes to shove it would really prefer it to be invented there.
One interesting theory that we first heard from Kevin Krewell of Tirias Research is that, after decades of rivalry, Intel and AMD came together at the behest of Apple to produce a solution with the processing power of Intel's Core and graphics performance of AMD's Radeon that would be small enough to enable Apple to put it in an ultraslim MacBook. "As AMD is Apple's favorite graphics supplier, putting Intel's CPU and AMD's GPU together in one package is a win for the company."
Analysts agree that this is a plausible theory, but given that Apple is notoriously tight lipped and demands the same of its suppliers, we aren't likely to find out about it for a while.
"It will be interesting to see where this product turns up," said Linley Gwenapp, president and principal analyst at the Linley Group, in an interview with EE Times. "It is the kind of product that Apple would like to see. So, I think if this turns up in a high-end MacBook, then maybe it was Apple's idea."
But Steve Kleynhans, a research vice president at Gartner, the new offering will open up all kinds of opportunities in lightweight mobile PCs for 3D gaming and virtual reality — both targets for the Windows ecosystem, not the Mac OS. There's nothing to say that the collaboration was Apple's handiwork, he said.
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