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Apple now owns a semiconductor company
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Eug
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Apr 23, 2008, 08:15 AM
 
Apple Buys Chip Designer - Forbes.com

Do you remember these guys? They're the guys who designed a new PowerPC chip and people wondered if Apple could have used it in their laptops, but Apple switched to Intel.

However, methinks that Apple could use PA Semi chips in stuff like the iPod and iPhone.
( Last edited by Eug; Apr 23, 2008 at 09:40 AM. )
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 08:42 AM
 
Interesting. It seems to be stocked with microprocessor design veterans from all over. They know what they're doing.

A bit of a nit-picky note, though: this is not a semiconductor company. These guys do microprocessor design, but they don't actually make their own chips, they contract that part out to companies like TSMC or a host of other countries in Asia. (I don't know who they actually use). So they're more accurately referred to as a "fabless semiconductor" company, since they have no expensive IC fab to maintain. And Apple has always had chip designers in their company, so the fact that Apple has bought a fabless semiconductor company is not all that novel.

However, I don't mean to knock the purchase; given the type of people working there and the projects they are rumored to be working on, you can expect Apple to come out with some interesting stuff in the next few years based on this technology -- powerful and tiny, with low power consumption. Maybe another PDA?
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 08:58 AM
 
The iPod and iPhone are PDAs. There is not enough of a market for Apple to justify releasing a PDA that is only a PDA.

Anyway, I agree with Eug. We will see these chips powering future iPods, iPhones and whatever other not full-fledged computer devices Apple has planned.
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Apr 23, 2008, 09:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by BasketofPuppies View Post
The iPod and iPhone are PDAs. There is not enough of a market for Apple to justify releasing a PDA that is only a PDA.
I know, That's why the was there.

     
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Apr 23, 2008, 09:23 AM
 
Yeah, fabless semiconductor company but semiconductor nonetheless. This is probably better anyway, since Apple really doesn't need to get into the fabbing business. Too much of a headache.

Anyways, one of the weird things about this purchase is that their products are not really appropriate for the iPod or iPhone as of yet. Too much power usage.

P.A. Semi - PWRficient 1682M

They could have new processors in the pipeline though.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 10:17 AM
 
PWRficient PA6T-1682M 64-bit dual-core processor

7 Watts per core
SPECint2000 = 1000 <-- Roughly the speed of a 2.8 GHz P4
SPECfp2000 = 1500 <-- Roughly the speed of a 3.4 GHz P4E.

P.S. The founder of P.A. Semi was involved in StrongARM design, and Apple used an ARM chip in the Apple Newton.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 10:25 AM
 
I could see Apple using these processors in larger mobile products (ie, something in between the iPhone and MBA). Why they want to do that, I don't know...
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Apr 23, 2008, 10:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
The founder of P.A. Semi was involved in StrongARM design, and Apple used an ARM chip in the Apple Newton.
I forgot to mention that the leader (besides Jobs) in the acquisition process was Tony Fadell, who just happens to be senior VP of the iPod group at Apple.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 10:55 AM
 
Great news.

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Apr 23, 2008, 10:58 AM
 
So, does this mean we have to worry about migrating to another architecture or what?
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 11:01 AM
 
Yes, PPC is back! WOOt. In your face Mactel lovers.

Not really. This seems to be a purchase pretty strongly linked to Apple's handheld platform. OTOH, this company was producing PPC designs so, hey, one can dream, right?

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Apr 23, 2008, 11:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by Dakar the Fourth View Post
So, does this mean we have to worry about migrating to another architecture or what?
Well, the existing architecture at PA Semi is PowerPC, which Apple already supports.


Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
Yes, PPC is back! WOOt. In your face Mactel lovers.

Not really. This seems to be a purchase pretty strongly linked to Apple's handheld platform. OTOH, this company was producing PPC designs so, hey, one can dream, right?
Yeah, dream about PPC handhelds.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 11:16 AM
 
You know what I mean.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 11:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by Dakar the Fourth View Post
You know what I mean.
Actually I didn't. Were you making a joke? Or was it an honest question?

If the former, I obviously didn't get it.
If the latter, I don't really know. They could stick with PPC, or I suppose they could possibly develop other low power chips based on different architectures. If they stuck with PPC, I wonder if that'd make it easier for Apple to expand the iPhone/iPod platform.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 11:23 AM
 
No, not a joke. Sure, Apple still supports PPC, but since all their manufactured hardware runs on intel, I'd consider that a migration if they went back to PPC.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 11:26 AM
 
PPC4Ever.

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Apr 23, 2008, 11:32 AM
 
Originally Posted by Dakar the Fourth View Post
No, not a joke. Sure, Apple still supports PPC, but since all their manufactured hardware runs on intel, I'd consider that a migration if they went back to PPC.
The iPhone/iPod doesn't run on Intel. It's ARM/Xscale, which is (now) Marvell.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 11:33 AM
 
Computer Hardware. Geez.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 11:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by Dakar the Fourth View Post
Computer Hardware. Geez.
Even in my first post I said that the acquisition may have much more to do with the iPod/iPhone platform than computer hardware.

I don't think Apple will consider using PA Semi stuff for its laptops or desktops. It could theoretically for a low end laptop, but I don't really see any reason to do so. It make much more sense to just stick with Intel for that.

However, for a set top box (like AppleTV), a derivative or that chip could be used, but I'm not counting on that either.

The most likely target would be the iPhone/iPod platform. Yeah it could be a "migration" from ARM/Xscale to PPC for that platform, but I do wonder if having PPC there might make things easier since they have so much experience with PPC already. Plus, they could taylor the chip design much better than if they used 3rd party chips.

Or perhaps, PA Semi could design a chip based on the ARM arch. The CEO of PA Semi is very experienced at this.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 11:41 AM
 
whatever apple ends up doing with this will I'm sure be cool. It also means that the competition will have a harder time catching up.
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Apr 23, 2008, 11:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by Dakar the Fourth View Post
Computer Hardware. Geez.
No one's talkinga bout these chips replacing Intel chips inside macs. That's going to stay.

The article says that they see these chips being developed for the new "handheld computing platform," the iPod touch and iPhone. They aren't turning their backs on Intel for their macs.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 11:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
Even in my first post I said that the acquisition may have much more to do with the iPod/iPhone platform than computer hardware.

I don't think Apple will consider using PA Semi stuff for its laptops or desktops. It could theoretically for a low end laptop, but I don't really see any reason to do so. It make much more sense to just stick with Intel for that.

However, for a set top box (like AppleTV), a derivative or that chip could be used, but I'm not counting on that either.

The most likely target would be the iPhone/iPod platform. Yeah it could be a "migration" from ARM/Xscale to PPC for that platform, but I do wonder if having PPC there might make things easier since they have so much experience with PPC already. Plus, they could taylor the chip design much better than if they used 3rd party chips.
Originally Posted by Nodnarb View Post
No one's talkinga bout these chips replacing Intel chips inside macs. That's going to stay.

The article says that they see these chips being developed for the new "handheld computing platform," the iPod touch and iPhone. They aren't turning their backs on Intel for their macs.
Okay. I did catch the part about mobile platforms but since I don't follow this stuff, I wasn't 100% sure that meant it would only affect that.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 01:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
PPC4Ever.


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Apr 23, 2008, 02:16 PM
 
Anyone here get the Newton logo engraved on their iPhone or iPod Touch yet?
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Apr 23, 2008, 02:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
Do you remember these guys? They're the guys who designed a new PowerPC chip and people wondered if Apple could have used it in their laptops, but Apple switched to Intel.
Weird for once I don't remember that. Anyone have more background?
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 02:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by analogue SPRINKLES View Post
Weird for once I don't remember that. Anyone have more background?
P.A. Semi's major PowerPC announcement, and looking back at The Switch
Apple shunned superstar chip start-up for Intel | The Register
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 07:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
PWRficient PA6T-1682M 64-bit dual-core processor

7 Watts per core
SPECint2000 = 1000 <-- Roughly the speed of a 2.8 GHz P4
SPECfp2000 = 1500 <-- Roughly the speed of a 3.4 GHz P4E.
Or the more relevant comparison for 2007:
SPECint2000 = 1000 <-- Roughly the speed of a 900Mhz ULV C2D
SPECfp2000 = 1500 <-- Roughly the speed of a 1.4 GHz ULV C2D
ULV C2D run at 5W per core.

Fail.
     
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Apr 23, 2008, 11:53 PM
 
A PowerPC processor that uses less power (hopefully less than a Core X Duo), is faster, and capable of being produced in huge quantities would be a very cool thing indeed. Right now Intel is sitting pretty, with AMD just poking at them. They NEED competition, and WE need them to have competition. For everyone's benefit, really, but for the consumer most of all.

I hope this spins into something revolutionary.

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Apr 24, 2008, 01:16 AM
 
EETimes.com - DoD may push back on Apple's P.A. Semi bid

"P.A. Semi customers were told the acquiring company was not interested in the startup's products or road map, but is buying the company for its intellectual property and engineering talent."
     
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Apr 24, 2008, 01:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
PPC4Ever.
     
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Apr 24, 2008, 12:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
EETimes.com - DoD may push back on Apple's P.A. Semi bid

"P.A. Semi customers were told the acquiring company was not interested in the startup's products or road map, but is buying the company for its intellectual property and engineering talent."
Since PA Semi doesn't actually produce the chips, and Apple isn't interested in the chip designs, I don't see this as a big issue. Sell the chip design to a fab or another company so they can continue to sell the chip to the DoD while Apple runs away with the PA staff and IP.
     
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Apr 24, 2008, 03:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
PPC4Ever.
HELL YES!

Why does nobody mention Apple's former daughter company (sort of) ARM? Only young whippersnappers around? This is somewhat the repetition.

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Apr 24, 2008, 03:48 PM
 
I think apple is just wants them to develop their own chips for use in the iPhone as the CPU is a huge cost for them. If they can get it at cost the 250 mil they spent will pay off in no time.

No way are they going to use these chips in laptops and switch us all back to PPC again.
     
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Apr 24, 2008, 04:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by analogue SPRINKLES View Post
I think apple is just wants them to develop their own chips for use in the iPhone as the CPU is a huge cost for them. If they can get it at cost the 250 mil they spent will pay off in no time.
iPhone CPU less than$18.50 (iSuppli estimate Jan/2007). PA Semi doesn't actually fab the chips, so even after Apple buys PA Semi, they still have to pay another company to fab them. While your idea may be profitable when they sell a hundred million units, the ROI looks pretty poor. And then of course there are Apple's comments that they just want the people and the IP, not the products.



Originally Posted by analogue SPRINKLES View Post
No way are they going to use these chips in laptops and switch us all back to PPC again.
Absolutely not, given the power/performance comparison I provided above.

     
   
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