Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This is crazy! Forbes reports that Apple is buying P.A.Semi:
There is some bad speculation in the Forbes story, but it's really hard to imagine this turn of events.

It could be that Apple wants on in-house desing team and buying PA Semi gives them one. Dobberpuhl has designed chips for just about every instruction set except x86. Hmmmm. Naw, Apple won't try to design its own x86 processor, would it? Not after Montalvo Systems just got sold for scrap.

More than likely Apple wants more control for its iPhone and media devices. And we know Steve likes control. There might even be something in the works that Apple couldn't find a vendor that had the exact right solution.

Here's part of the CNet take from Tom Krazit:
Apple acquires low-power chip designer P.A. Semi
Posted by Tom Krazit Apple has reportedly made a rare acquisition, snapping up low-power chip company P.A. Semi one day before reporting its quarterly earnings.

Forbes reported late Tuesday that Apple has agreed to purchase the company for a middling $278 million, quoting Apple spokesman Steve Dowling as confirming the deal. P.A. Semi made its debut a few years back designing low-power chips based on Apple's old friend, the Power architecture.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The AMD news today was pretty bad, but it was expected. It did raise some questions:
1. What happened to the Bobcat core? We were told Bulldozer is in development and is scheduled to ship in 2009, but Dirk dodged answering about Bobcat (light weight core for products that would compete with Intel's Atom).

2. Will we EVER see asset light? Hector has been using this allusion for a year now with no visible movement. But let's be real - if AMD splits into two (foundry and fabless processor company), the two parts would still be inexorably linked to each other's fate.

3. It's about time AMD was realistic about the ATI media processor (DTV, Cell phone, settop box) business and sell it off for some badly needed revenue. I expect the sale of those business units will be part of the 10% personnel reduction.

4. I feel bad for those who will lose their jobs. I hope its none of my friends still there.

5. Dirk, I think you should get back involved in fixing CPU engineering - it doesn't look like its working well without you. Barcelona needs ~500MHz more; Bulldozer has to hit schedule; you better decide on your 32nm process ASAP; Fusion threatens to disappoint in practice; you can't rely on Intel going off track again (although Nehalem could still be too bloated to be cost-effective in mainstream CPUs).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My CEO was all over Intel at today's financial analyst meeting. Intel has been just plain buttheads lately, saying just things to create FUD. The problem is that too many people just assume Intel will follow through without any real understanding of Intel's strengths and weaknesses. Look at Intel's track record outside of x86 processors for PCs: DRAM (fail), flash memory (spin-off), i860 (fail), i960 (fail), 432 (fail), XScale (fail), Itanium (niche, never replaced x86 = fail), optical (sold off), supercomputers (fail), integrated graphics (crap to date), i740 discrete graphics (fail), bit slice (fail), LCOS (fail). The record speaks for itself - on a level playing field Intel fails. Only if it has a proprietary volume product (x86 processors) does it succeed. Intel understands that now, so its using x86 for everything - Router SoC chips, applications processors (cell phones), embedded, and now graphics. To the world, the x86 is Intel's hammer and every market now looks like a nail.