Here’s just a random thought.  What if the Apple bailing on NVIDIA rumors mean that Apple is building their own GPUs?  Yes, it is a stretch but let’s have a look at a bunch of convenient truths:

New Hires. Apple has been hiring AMD/ATI CTO-level execs over the past year. Bob Drebin and Raja Koduri are the most notable. 

Bob Drebin was the chief technology officer of the Graphics Products Group within AMD. In this role, he oversaw the technical strategy and direction for AMD’s graphics related businesses.

Mr. Drebin joined AMD with the ATI acquisition in 2006. At ATI, Mr. Drebin led the architecture and design of many of ATI award-winning graphics processors. Before ATI, Mr. Drebin managed the architecture and design unit of ArtX, where he was instrumental in development of the graphics component for the Nintendo Game Cube. Prior to joining ArtX, Mr. Drebin was a chief engineer in Silicon Graphics’ Advanced Graphics Division, where he spent nine years developing high performance graphics systems.

Their new boss?  Mark Papermaster, a guy with chip knowledge so important to IBM that they sued Apple to prevent him from joining.

PA Semi.  The official word on this group acquired by Apple is that they are building next gen iPhone processors…and they probably are.  But their expertise could also be used in building graphics processors. 

There is always the PowerVR angle to think about as well.  Apple owns about 10% of the mobile GPU designer (and Intel owns 15%) so it will be interesting to see where all of these puzzle pieces fit.

OpenCL.  Apple is spearheading the move to this GPU-as-processor architecture.  As a founding member of the Khronos group, Apple will be in a position to run with this technology when Snow Leopard hits the streets in September.

While initially developing OpenCL, it became clear to Apple that the technology offered an opportunity for the industry to work together to define a standard for parallel programming. With the support of AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA, Apple proposed OpenCL to the Khronos Group consortium as the basis for a new standard. Demonstrating the strength of the proposal, OpenCL was expanded to include digital signal processors (DSPs) and other specialized processor architectures. It was ratified as an open, royalty-free open standard in December 2008.

Stranger things have happened.

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