Apple Acquires Power Architecture Processor Developer

Apple Quietly Takes Over Microprocessor Designer

by Anton Shilov
04/22/2008 | 11:47 PM

Apple, a leading maker of portable digital media players as well as developer of Macintosh personal computer, has acquired PA Semi, a designer of Power-architecture microprocessors with whom Apple already held talks several years ago. While Apple does not provide any colour to the information, the rumoured sum for which the company got PA Semi implies that the Cupertino, California-based company has serious plans.

 

According to unofficial information, Apple paid $278 million in cash for PA Semi, but there are no direct or indirect proves for this. PA Semi was founded in 2004 by Dan Dobberpuhl, who earlier designed Alpha and StrongARM processors at Digital Equipment (DEC) back in the nineties. The company employs engineers from Advanced Micro Devices, Intel Corp. and Sun Microsystems who have a lot of experience in creating advanced microprocessors.

So far the most notable achievement of PA Semi has been dual-core PA6T-1682M PWRficient processor with dual-channel DDR2 memory controller and 2MB level-two cache made using 65nm process technology based on the Power architecture. The chip consumes only 5W – 13W – 25W while running at 2GHz. Performance of the central processing unit is not known, but it was embraced by telecommunication, networking and wireless companies. Besides, it is rumoured that Apple was in talks with PA Semi regarding usage of its chips inside Macs.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not comment on our purposes and plans,” said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling in an interview with Forbes.

At the moment Apple uses x86 microprocessors from Intel Corp. inside its personal computers and it is generally unlikely that the company is interested to get back to Power architecture when it comes to Macs. However, Apple utilizes chips from a variety of suppliers for its products like iPod, iPhone, Time Capsule and others, which makes development of such devices rather complicated. As a result, with its own microprocessors, Apple can streamline its operations and show its supplier Intel that it is Apple, who picks up the chips, not Intel who feeds what it has.