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. 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.
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.
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.
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, such as the iPad. 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.
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