May 2, 2008
SY Wong

Apple’s Acquisition of PA Semi Threaten Intel in iPhone Positioning?

Apple’s recent announcement of acquisition plan for PA Semi, a famous multi-core processors developer for embedded market with a huge acquisition cost of $278 million has triggered much speculation on what is the potential next step of the giant computer maker. Some of us may start wondering if such an act will threaten Intel as previous rumors of positioning its newly released ultra small form factor and low TDP (Thermal Design Power) Atom processor for Apple’s next generation iPhone may not come true. By considering a few mismatch factors below, the possibility of using either PA Semi or even Intel Atom processors could just be pure rumors.

First, PA Semi’s PWRficient PA6T-1682 processor clocking at 2GHz seems to be over powered to be used to run an iPhone. While it doesn’t make sense to waste the resource of high end processor to run lightweight applications, the major mismatch here is the huge TDP of 25W, which is a few times higher even as compared to Intel Atom. Nobody really needs a powerful smartphone that either requires a huge battery or only able to last for few hours. Let’s take a look at Intel Atom processor, although it is one of the world’s most thermal efficient X86 architecture processors, but when compared to existing ARM based processor, the TDP is still considerable high to totally replace ARM based processor in Smartphone market.

None of us will know what Steve’s thinking and Apple’s strategy following the technology acquisition. Perhaps it will be fitted nicely into Apple TV that require much higher processing power and can tolerate with higher TDP. Either way, it will definitely benefit Apple for its next generation product lines by leveraging technology and engineering skills from this fab-less company.

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