In what is surely a micro blow to Intel, Apple has chosen to buy a boutique microprocessor company called P.A. Semi. The company specializes in ultra-low-power microprocessors that fit into devices such as mobile phones. Intel has been pushing its Atom platform and hoped Apple might use it in future generations of mobile devices like the iPhone.Apple would not say exactly what it plans to do with P.A. Semi. "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not comment on our purposes and plans," said Apple spokesperson Steve Dowling. But the implication is clear enough.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs would rather, when possible, buy a company (which, by the way, cost it a reported $278 million) than have to use an outside company's products. P.A. Semi has only been around since 2003 and employs about 150 people. Even so, its chip designs were enough to impress those at Apple. According to a Forbes report, the negotiations for the sale of P.A. Semi took place in Jobs' own home.
At the moment, no chips from P.A. Semi are built into any Apple products, and Apple will allow P.S. Semi to continue to serve its current customers. At least for a while.
Intel has been working on the Atom platform for a while. Atom can be used in several different mobile form factors, including laptops, media players, and phones. The ability for chips to perform functions quickly without drawing too much power is critical for such devices.