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]