Your MacBook Air Almost Ran On AMD Silicon [Rumor]

Your MacBook Air Almost Ran On AMD Silicon [Rumor]

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?

Related
  • RyanTV

    I don’t buy it. I personally have had major issues in the past with AMD and would never purchase a product with their CPUs. I’m perfectly happy paying a little more for Intel which has really been on fire post Pentium 4.

  • MonopolistCorruption

    My Intel laptop is hot and slow.  Steve Jobs said in his bio that Intel’s graphics “suck”.   Time for Apple to break through Intel’s monopolistic bribes and threats to use AMD.

    Intel is one of the world’s most corrupt monopolists.  Read the NY AG’s complaint against Intel and be shocked.  Intel is screwing America’s consumers by blocking out all competition.

  • imajoebob

    I think Apple would have switched if AMD had come closer to the Intel battery life. But I also think Apple decided to sacrifice graphics power to avoid having to revamp code for AMD.  That would have meant they’d sacrifice programmers who are already hard at work building “iOS X” for MacBooks running A5 (6? 7?) chips.

  • Kevin Mai

    WHY NOT?!?!?! I am already on the fence with a macbook air and i love my amd cpu and gpu. This would be awsome, and amd hackintoshes would get like 10x more support :)

  • Mitchell Busby

    What, and Apple isn’t? :P

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , |