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Palo Alto Semiconductor, known as P.A. Semi, was an American fabless semiconductor company founded in Santa Clara, California in 2003 by Daniel W. Dobberpuhl, who was previously the lead designer for the DEC Alpha 21064 and StrongARM processors.[1][2][3] The company employed a 150-person engineering team which included people who had previously worked on processors like Itanium, Opteron and UltraSPARC. Apple Inc. acquired P.A. Semi for $278 million in April 2008.[4]


P. A. Semi concentrated on making powerful and power-efficient Power ISA processors called PWRficient, based on the PA6T processor core. The PA6T was the first Power ISA core to be designed from scratch outside the AIM alliance (i.e. not by Apple, IBM, or Motorola/Freescale) in ten years. Texas Instruments was one of the investors in P.A. Semi and it was suggested that their fabrication plants would be used to manufacture the PWRficient processors.[5]

PWRficient processors were shipping to select customers, and were set to be released for worldwide sale in Q4 2007.[6]

There had been rumors that P.A. Semi had developed a relationship with Apple for the adoption of PWRficient processors. That supposedly ended when Apple its transition from PowerPC to Intel's processors for their entire line of computers.[7]

Acquisition by Apple

On April 23, 2008, Apple announced that they had acquired P.A. Semi. While Apple's previous relationship with the company implied that Apple could use their processors, P.A. Semi only designed and manufactured Power ISA processors up to that point, which Apple did not use. Apple only used ARM and x86 processors at the time.

On June 11, 2008, Apple CEO Steve Jobs stated at the 2008 Worldwide Developers Conference that the acquisition was meant to add the talent of P.A. Semi's engineers to Apple's workforce and help them build custom chips for the iPod, iPhone, and other future mobile devices,[8] such as the iPad.[9] P.A. Semi has said that they were willing to supply their PWRficient PA6T-1682M chip on an end-of-life basis, if the Power ISA license that P.A. Semi holds from IBM could be transferred to the acquiring company.[10]

See also


  1. Start-up plans new energy-efficient processor. Retrieved on 2005-10-23.
  2. Bridget Maiellaro (2008-08-24). ECE alumnus' company purchased by Apple. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
  3. Afred U. MacCrae (April 2003). EDS Members Named Winners of the 2003 IEEE Technical Field Awards. IEEE. Archived from the original on 2003-07-26.
  4. "Apple Buys Chip Designer", Forbes. Retrieved on 2008-04-23. 
  5. Vance, Ashlee. PA Semi heads to 16 cores on back of $50m boost. The Register. Retrieved on 2006-10-17.
  6. Press release. P. A. Semi. Archived from the original on 2007-08-21. Retrieved on 2007-02-07.
  7. Vance, Ashlee. Apple shunned superstar chip start-up for Intel. The Register. Retrieved on 2006-05-19.
  8. Wingfield, Nick. "Jobs Still Hearts Intel", The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on 2008-04-24. 
  9. "A Little Chip Designed by Apple Itself", The New York Times, 2010-02-02. Retrieved on 2010-02-02. 
  10. Merritt, Rick. DoD may push back on Apple's P. A. Semi bid. EE Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-23.

External links


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