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Apple Had Late Stage Prototypes of an AMD Fusion Based MacBook Air

SemiAccurate claims that Apple had late stage AMD Llano based MacBook Air prototypes last spring and had been "on the verge of production".
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 Llano in an Air shell, and that would have been a really tasty machine.
This AMD based design would reportedly have had much more graphics (GPU) power, and lose only a little CPU power as compared to what was ultimately released. The "Llano" is part of the AMD Fusion platform which offers a combined CPU/GPU hybrid system:
Forget about the CPU (Central Processing Unit). Chipmaker AMD would like you to think instead about what it calls the APU, its Accelerated Processing Unit. The combo product uses a single die to contain, according to AMD, "a multicore CPU, a powerful DirectX 11-capable discrete-level graphics and parallel processing engine, a dedicated high-definition video acceleration block, and a high-speed bus that speeds data across the differing types of processor cores within the design."
Graphics (GPU) performance has been a stumbling block for Apple in pushing its laptop designs further. The MacBook Air was stuck on previous generation Intel chips for an extra revision due to the relatively poor performance of Intel's integrated GPUs. Apple finally upgraded the MacBook Air to Intel's Sandy Bridge processors in July.

Earlier this year, Apple had reportedly threatened Intel that they would abandon Intel's chips if the company was unable to improve their power consumption profile. AMD would be the logical alternative to Intel, and it makes sense that Apple would have fully explored its options at that time.

According to SemiAccurate, one reason Apple chose not to adopt AMD's solution was AMD's inability to supply enough of the required parts to Apple. SemiAccurate had previously claimed that Apple was also looking into moving from Intel processors to ARM processors in the future.

Top Rated Comments

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35 months ago

Graphics (GPU) performance has been a stumbling block for Apple


Massive understatement.

Apple doesnt give a crap about GPU. Just look at what they offer in their desktops. Then look at their history of offering their consumers absolute garbage; last gen GPUs with next year GPU prices.

Disgusting.
Rating: 19 Votes
35 months ago
Apple moving to AMD would be an interesting turn of events.
Rating: 15 Votes
35 months ago
Perhaps they did, but I am not surprised they didn't move forward. Thunderbolt is part of Apple's product strategy. AMD≠no thunderbolt. I'm not sure that Intel is licensing the technology to other vendors.
Rating: 12 Votes
35 months ago

Perhaps they did, but I am not surprised they didn't move forward. Thunderbolt is part of Apple's product strategy. AMD≠no thunderbolt. I'm not sure that Intel is licensing the technology to other vendors.

The Hudson FCH supports USB 3.0 on die but that would leave the Air as the only Apple product without ThunderBolt. I still consider ThunderBolt to be dead on arrival though.
Rating: 12 Votes
35 months ago
i have always been an intel fan. no justification why..but i have always viewed AMD as being inferior.
Rating: 12 Votes
35 months ago
SemiAccurate, more like completely not accurate. Are they just going to throw out every possible combination of Apple moving to non-Intel-mobile series chips? ARM, AMD Fusion.. maybe next it can be Atmel! Keep throwing those darts..
Rating: 10 Votes
35 months ago
Personally I'm an Intel fan, but I wouldn't mind some increased graphic performance.
Rating: 10 Votes
35 months ago
I think Apple can see that Intel is still the best option. Ivy bridge, thunderbolt, nuff said.
Rating: 9 Votes
35 months ago



ARM or AMD, really they just moved to Imtel considering how long they were on PowerPC.


Intel licenses AMD64 from AMD AKA the Intel 64 you see in x64 mode in Lion, SL, leopard.

it wouldn't be a different processor architecture.
Rating: 7 Votes
35 months ago
I love AMD and all but Llano starts at 35W with ho-hum clock speeds and a questionable Turbo Core at best. Llano might have a high TDP but the power consumption is remarkably low compared to AMD's old Phenom/Athlon mobile lineup and even to Sandy Bridge. Binning out an even lower clocked version would barely place it past Core 2 Duo in performance if at all. It would work but seriously not at the prices Apple charges.

Fusion parts are scarce as hell today for every other OEM. Maybe when Trinity shows up but tinkering with Llano is not out of the question.

Charlie is getting killer page hits for this one.
Rating: 7 Votes

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