Apple reportedly partners into chip fab to bring processor manufacturing in-house

According to a report today from SemiAccurate, a semi-accurate site that has been hit and miss on Apple rumors in the past, Apple has just bought into a chip fab plant, backing up recent rumors that the company could be moving to build its own CPUs.

Apple has just done something that SemiAccurate has been expecting for months and entered the fab industry. No we are not joking, Apple just bought into a fab, and not in a trivial way either.

The full report remains behind a paywall, so it’s unclear if the site mentions a specific company that Apple has bought into. The tags for the report, however, do list “UMC”, a hint that the company in question could be Taiwan-based chipmaker United Microelectronics Corporation…

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Wild Speculation: Why a $2B AMD purchase would be a puzzle piece fit for Apple

Things aren’t looking good for chipmaker AMD…Following another round of layoffs totaling about 15 percent of its employees last month, Reuters reported today that AMD is looking for an investor to sell its Texas campus in order to raise up to $200 million in cash in a multi-year lease back deal. AMD’s cash dropped from $279 million to $1.48 billion in the third quarter, and today the company sits at a market cap of $1.40 billion.

Despite not being the “main option,” with the restructuring and the company’s financial issues, Reuters’ sources claimed an outright sale of the company isn’t out of the question. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard chatter of an AMD takeover. However, with the company sitting at a market cap of $1.40 billion and rumors of Bob Mansfield’s new Technologies group possibly transitioning away from Intel processors, we can’t help but imagine a few things Apple would stand to gain from the purchase…

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Assertive Display tech demoed on iPad at IFA- intelligently adjusts pixels in realtime to make content viewable in sunlight

As part the International keynote presentations at IFA this year, AMD exec and president of the HSA foundation, Phil Rogers, took the stage to give an update on the current state of the not-for-profit alliance. For those of you unfamiliar with the foundation, HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture), is described as “a heterogeneous compute ecosystem, rooted in industry standards, for combining scalar processing on the CPU with parallel processing on the GPU while enabling high bandwidth access to memory and high application performance at low power consumption.”

While the addition of Samsung, among other partners Texas Instruments, ARM, AMD, and Imagination Technologies, was the big news of the day for most, a short demo by partner Apical was what really caught our attention.

Apical’s “Assertive Display” technology is already present in a few devices, such as Sharp’s AQUOS PHONE SH-01D, but during its demo for the HSA keynote, Apical showed off the tech working on an iPad…

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Is Apple experiencing hiccups with GPUs on the next generation MacBooks?

There are rumors that Apple will transition to Nvidia for certain Macs in the near future. In November, SemiAccurate claimed Apple won the bid to supply upcoming Ivy Bridge Macs. Another report popped up last month claiming Apple was eyeing Nvidia’s upcoming Kepler platform for next-generation Mac Pros. Apple now implements AMD after making the switch from Nvidia two years ago. However, a new report from SemiAccurate today claimed Apple will not include Nvidia GPUs in future low- and mid-range MacBooks, and it will instead likely go without a GPU and only a GT2 Ivy Bridge.

Apple upped their SKUs from parts bearing awful Intel GPUs to variants with more of those awful shaders. Since those Ivy Bridge CPUs are going in to laptops that have a GPU, upping the shader count from 6 to 16 should be a waste, they will never be turned on. If they are going to be turned on, that would mean that the discrete GPU in those machines is either going to be much higher spec’d, or it won’t be there. Since Nvidia can’t supply enough small GPUs, what do you think the odds of them supplying the same number of larger and lower yielding ones are? There goes that option, leaving only one possibility, the next gen low and mid-range MacBooks are not going to have a GPU, only a GT2 Ivy Bridge.

The report continued to claim sources indicated Nvidia could not meet necessary supply, which means the Macs would not include a GPU. However, Apple could likely go with Nvidia in higher-end Macs where Intel’s GPUs are not enough. It also claimed the middle-range of Macs might see some models with it and some without it. SemiAccurate ended its report by noting Nvidia’s and AMD’s GPUs used by Apple in mid-range Macs will likely be “dead forever” with Intel’s Haswell expected to win bids for Apple’s upcoming next-generation Macs.

We are not entirely certain that Apple ever planned to use a discrete GPU in its mid-range MacBook Pros. While it seems that Apple is planning to move to Retina displays in its Mac lineup, which requires extra GPU hardware, Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs are growing exponentially better at doing graphic intensive tasks. In addition, Apple seems to be doing well with AMD GPUs in its high-end portables.

Moreover, remember Apple took a direct jab at Nvidia at the iPad keynote last week (below). That is not something partners generally do (Samsung notwithstanding).

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Report: Apple to return to Nvidia for Mac Pro graphics in Nehalem update

It looks like Apple could (again) select the graphics giant Nvidia as the primary GPU provider for the upcoming Mac Pro hardware refresh. According to a mostly speculative story by MIC Gadget based on unnamed industry sources, new Mac Pros will feature Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge chipset fabbed on the chip maker’s latest 22-nanometer Trigate transistor technology (no surprise there). According to Intel, 22nm Ivy Bridge silicon claims a 37 percent speed jump and lower power consumption compared to the chip giant’s 32 nanometer planar transistors. ‘Trigate’ Ivy Bridge chips can feature up to eight processing cores and are more power-savvy, so they should help scale frequency, too. On a more interesting note, MIC Gadget speculates Apple could switch back to Nvidia as the primary supplier of next-generation GPUs for the new Mac Pros.

Nvidia has their “Kepler” platform due out around the same time as Intel is making their changes, and our sources within the company indicate that they have chosen to have Nvidia lead the charge so to speak on the graphics front.

Eagle-eyed readers could mention that AMD recently released the Radeon HD 7970 graphics card powered by the Tahiti GPU (its nearest rival is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 590), with observes deeming it Apple’s go-to graphics card for future Mac Pros. Indeed, traces of support for Tahiti-driven AMD GPUs are found in Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3, at least indicating people might be able to upgrade their future Mac Pro with this card. Oh, and it’s great for Hackintosh builders, too.

Also indicative is a March 2011 Snow Leopard 10.6.7 update that enabled support for a bunch of AMD/ATI Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx cards, not all of which were in Macs at the time. On the other hand, a speculative switch to Nvidia would not be out of character as California-based Apple is known for frequently switching between Nvidia chips and those manufactured by rival AMD…

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