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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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37 months ago
Apple moving to AMD would be an interesting turn of events.
Rating: 11 Votes
37 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: 8 Votes
37 months ago
Personally I'm an Intel fan, but I wouldn't mind some increased graphic performance.
Rating: 7 Votes
37 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: 6 Votes
37 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: 6 Votes
37 months ago
I think Apple can see that Intel is still the best option. Ivy bridge, thunderbolt, nuff said.
Rating: 5 Votes
37 months ago
"If you are wondering why the Air wasn't really revamped much this last time..."

I wasn't really wondering...the latest redesign was less than a year old when the upgrade came. CPU performance the same level as MBP's from a few months before, same respectable battery life, a high speed port, and a backlit keyboard. Pretty decent for the "spec bump" upgrade year.

AMD processors but I would rather have the extra CPU performance then a boost in graphics. Even with Llano the graphics would still be terrible for anything graphics intensive.
Rating: 5 Votes
37 months ago
This story is proof positive that Apple knew/know that Intel integrated graphics have been, are, and always WILL be a big bag of FAIL.
Rating: 5 Votes
37 months ago


but still x86 is outdated cpu technology that manged linger from the 70's. Intel's has Microsoft to thank for that. ARM is the future.


You're young aren't you.. The word "superior" is mentioned a lot these days, usually by young people who just want to show they know something.

x86 is not "outdated cpu technology".. it's outdated when something replaces it, and nothing has replaced the architecture that powers 90%+ of the worlds consumer PCs. We've just (finally) got some decent competition.
Rating: 5 Votes
37 months ago
I would have liked to have seen an AMD Macbook Air. It woudl be great to see Intel have some big-name competition for once.

I think running Windows 8 on an ARM CPU is going to fall. Oh sure, it will run but how many big name apps are going to get ported to ARM really?

I'm not sure MS is ready to port Office, Visual Studio, Server plus all the tools to ARM. Do you think the major game vendors are going to cross compile for Intel and ARM under Windows 8?


They already did...
Rating: 5 Votes

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