Apple will design its own tablet Mac chips

Casey Johnston
C. Johnston|07.15.09

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Casey Johnston
July 15th, 2009
In this article: amd, chip, nvidia, pasemi, powerpc, processor, rumor, tablet

Rumors have been crisscrossing the Internet about actions by Apple that point tellingly to the advent of an Apple tablet, or some kind of outsize iPod touch. VentureBeat is speculating that Apple may use chips they have developed themselves in the imminent $800 tablet computer.

Following some of the back story to the rumor helps it make a little more sense: in 2008, Apple acquired P.A. Semi for $278 million and for seemingly no reason, other than extremely valuable and talented staff (P.A. Semi's founder was a lead designer of the StrongARM processor). Nonetheless, Apple quickly put the team to work developing processors for iPods and iPhones. What no one knew at the time, VentureBeat says, is that Apple actually broke the team in half, with the other half working towards a chip for their upcoming tablet.

The tablet is speculated to have only a touch screen with no physical keyboard, and Apple is said to be aiming the tablet at high-end users to avoid the endless need to undercut competitors like Asus and Dell on the lower end. Likewise, more in-house chips could mean lower manufacturing costs for Apple.

The impending in-house Apple chips also may imply doom for Apple's chip partner of a few years, NVIDIA, with whom Apple was reported to have a tiff a few weeks ago. Because of disagreements over the way NVIDIA handled issues with faulty chips in MacBook Pros, there was speculation that Apple may drop NVIDIA from future models and return to AMD. Now Apple has added itself to the list of contenders that will vie for processor production.

Both the China Times and MacRumors have said that Apple plans to release the tablet for the holiday season, and that it has placed orders with a few companies for components of the tablet. If this web of gossip and hearsay that we're hearing through the grapevine is to be believed, there are more than a few breakthroughs to be had on Apple's end, and the longing for a tablet by some may finally (finally) be put to rest.
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