Did Apple almost switch to AMD processors this generation in the MacBook Air? That’s the latest report, and while we’re really skeptical, if it’s true, it would have been quite the blow against Intel.
As you know, right now, all MacBook Airs use special low-voltage versions of the Sandy Bridge processor. Last generation, the MacBook Air boasted Intel Core 2 Duo configurations, and they were arguably graphically superior machines because of integrated NVIDIA GeForce 300M GPUs. However, with the jump to Sandy Bridge, Intel said it wouldn’t allow third-party integrated graphics anymore, which meant that for the latest Airs, Apple had to depend on Intel’s own graphics silicon. Arguably inferior, especially given how GPU-dependent Mac OS X is.
Over at Semi-Accurate, they speculate that Apple was so unhappy with Intel’s integrated graphics that they almost switched over to AMD instead:
If you are wondering why the Air wasn’t really revamped much this last time, it is because you are looking at plan B. Plan A was basically a low power [AMD] Llano in an Air shell, and that would have been a really tasty machine.
I don’t doubt Apple has any number of prototypes bouncing around their labs running all sorts of esoteric configurations, but I’m skeptical of this. “Tasty machine” is arguable, for one thing, since talk of the Llano claim it can be kind of sluggish in processing power, especially compared to Intel chips. Furthermore, while Apple once criticized Intel for not taking low-power chips seriously enough, Intel’s offerings are still superior to AMD’s. Apple’s not going to change to AMD for worse battery life, even if it means slightly better graphics.
So I don’t buy it. What do you think?