What it is: AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) is a company that develops computer and graphic processors.
There’s always a steady rumor that some company is about to buy AMD and one potential suitor is always Apple. The rationale behind such a decision rests on the idea that Apple used to rely on standard ARM processors, but bought out a P.A. Semi, a company that focused on developing high-performance, energy-efficient processors.
Based on P.A. Semi’s knowledge, Apple then created their own custom ARM processors for use in the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and probably the Apple Watch as well. By designing their own ARM processors, Apple could create processors optimized for iOS while rivals had to settle for off-the-shelf ARM processors from companies like Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. Apple’s custom ARM processors are one reason why iOS devices typically run faster and prove more energy efficient than similar devices from rival companies.
So the reasoning goes that if Apple created their own custom ARM processors for mobile devices, why wouldn’t they want to acquire AMD to create custom x86 processors for Macintosh computers? Here’s why this doesn’t make any sense.
The world is shifting from desktop/laptop PCs to mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and wearable computers. That means high-performance, energy-efficient ARM processors are the future. Stodgy old x86 desktop/laptop processors are a stagnant market. Why would Apple want to create custom processors for a stagnant market?
By relying on Intel processors used in Windows PCs, Apple insures that Macintosh computers can run Windows seamlessly with no problems whatsoever. Since many corporations still rely on Windows, the ability to run Windows either natively in a separate hard disk partition or virtually gives corporations a reason to buy Macintosh computers. Strip away the certainty of running Windows programs and the Macintosh loses part of its appeal to corporate clients.
Ultimately, the world is shifting away from desktop/laptop computers to mobile devices and Apple has already decided that ARM processors running iOS is the answer. Apple TV initially used an Intel processor, but then Apple switched later generations of Apple TV to ARM processors running iOS. You can be certain Apple isn’t going to switch back to Intel processors for their Apple TV, especially since Apple wants iOS to run Apple TV and define the home automation market with the iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad. By keeping all mobile devices running ARM processors and iOS, Apple only has to worry about one operating system for Apple TV (to take over the home TV market) and CarPlay (to take over the in-dash automotive entertainment market).
In comparison, Microsoft created a desktop operating system (Windows 8), a phone operating system (Windows Phone), a tablet operating system (Windows RT), and a game console operating system (Xbox OS, derived from Windows) that were all incompatible with each other. Now Microsoft hopes to unify all of these devices to run Windows 10, but that’s what Microsoft should have done decades ago.
Apple is relying on a single operating system for mobile devices today (iOS). Apple has no reason to change the Macintosh at this point, so they can just let it run Intel processors and let Intel have the headaches designing and manufacturing processors. For everything but the Macintosh, Apple is relying on ARM processors and iOS.
That’s why Apple wanted a custom ARM processor because ARM processors and iOS are the future. That’s why Apple doesn’t need to buy AMD because x86 processors and OS X are not the future. Buying AMD to pursue something that isn’t the future is simply a waste of time and money.