Apple buys chip designer Intrisity for $121 million

Apple A4 chip

Apple has bought chip designer Intrisity for $121 million. Given the rapidity and speed of the Apple A4 chipset debuted alongside the iPad, rumors have persisted that Intrisity was behind the new system-on-chip (SoC), but confirmation took a while to arrive.

Intrisity was able to take the standard ARM Cortex A8 found in 650MHz flavor in the iPhone 3GS and competing smartphones and speed it up to 1GHz.

That's an advantage Apple reportedly wants to keep to itself.

It follows on the heels of Apple's previous acquisition of low-power fabless chip maker PA Semi, though a number of employees from that talent pool have reportedly left. (Some to be snapped up again by rival Google).

Where this leaves the upcoming iPhone HD/iPhone 4G is uncertain, those ARM itself has announced a successor, the multicore Cortex A9, and we'd certainly love to see what Intrisity's talent pool could do with that. (Also uncertain is what part, if any, this played in recent rumors concerning a potential Apple buyout of ARM itself).

Either way, Apple is continuing to expand their ability to integrate and differentiate down to the chipset level, something non-integrated competitors like Google and Microsoft might have trouble matching.

[New York Times]

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Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple buys chip designer Intrisity for $121 million

2 Comments

The interesting thing here was that while we were all speculating on Apple doing the A4 in house with PA Semi talent, (something I expressed strong doubts about at the time) it now turns out that not only were PA semi troops NOT used, but Apple's core hardware developers didn't do much (or any) of this work either.
Apple seems to be in technical-talent starvation mode in the chip development arena. They have nothing significantly new in the software arena either.
All their efforts are going into packaging (ipod-touch super-sized to iPad) projects, and yet another uninspiring laptop release.
While packaging has always been their forte, there was a time when they were able to produce totally new and innovative hardware designs in-house. Now they act like a small (very small) company.
Has the compartmentalization finally come home to roots? When a senior engineer gets fired for showing Wozniak an iPad for 3 minutes Even with an email authorizing him to do so, its a clear sign that the left hand can't help the right hand, or even admit that it exists.
To have to go outside for this level of work must be an embarrassment, such that they have to go buy the company. Those working for this company will probably flee too. Nobody wants to work in Stalag 17 when ARM technology is booming.