The Inquirer-Home

Fruitzilla resumes flirtation with PowerPC

Buys ex-DEC chip-making specialist
Wed Apr 23 2008, 14:24

THE BOYS IN WHITE from Cappuccino have revealed to the world that they have deigned to purchase a lesser company to integrate it into their plans for domination of the five per cent of the computer buying world that loves their products.

The company in question is the decidedly unsexy PA Semi, a chip design firm based in the Valley. Although no acquisition price was revealed (the rumours are in the region of $270-280 milyun), we suspect that at least $100,000 was added on to the cost to enable the firm's engineers to outfit themselves in Converse trainers and snarky t-shirts, as is de rigeur for a company as hip-it-hurts as Apple.

PA Semi has 150 engineers and was started by Dan Dobberphul, who previously designed Alpha and StrongARM chips for DEC in the late twentieth century.

Press speculation is rife that Apple intends to use the small, low-power chips to power next-generation Iphones and Ipods, end-arounding Intel and saving themselves some mega-bucks in the process.

It's true that PA Semi specialises in low-power chips - it's latest 64-bit desktop processor consumers just 5-13W at 2GHz, which is an impressive feat. But such an approach would seem slightly out of step with Apple's current roadmaps and strategy. It is widely believed that Intel's mobile technology will power the next iteration of the Iphone, and Apple has made no secret of its close engineering relationship with Intel which has seen it harness the power of Intel's massive design team to create nigh-on bespoke products.

To attempt to compete with Intel's expertise in house would distract from the firm's core mission of making its name based on interface and industrial design rather than raw microprocessing. His Jobsness is also well aware of the damage that was done to Apple's brand by the sub-par performance and design of its old PowerPC processors compared to the constantly-innovating x86 market.

Indeed, as newer portable devices run increasingly sophisticated versions of the desktop OSX, to converge the software platform and diverge the hardware platform seems a little strange.

Our guess is that Jobs has other plans for PA Semi, but who on earth knows what at this stage. µ


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