AMD lost out on MacBook Air contract, rumour claims

Rumours that AMD is working on a low-power chip for ultra-slim laptops as a direct competitor to Intel's Ultrabook project have received a shot in the arm from claims that the company's processors were considered for use in the MacBook Air.

Generally considered to be the pre-Ultrabook Ultrabook, Apple's slim and light MacBook Air turns heads - and contains the precursor technology to the Ultrabooks of today, in the form of low-power Intel hardware.

It appears that this wasn't always the case, however: Charlie Demerjian of SemiAccurate claims to have reports from multiple unnamed sources that Apple had originally planned to use AMD chips for its MacBook Air product - the first time the company had looked outside Intel for anything other than mobile products since it switched from the PowerPC architecture.

The MacBook Air that we all know and love, Demerjian claims, represents 'Plan B.' Plan A, he claims, was a system based around an AMD Llano-based accelerated processing unit, or APU.

The result would have been an incredible win for AMD: instead of Intel Ultrabooks, analysts would likely have been predicting massive sales for AMD's own-brand equivalent. Sadly, despite the project being "on the verge of production," Intel pipped the company to the post.

The reason, Demerjian asserts, is twofold: AMD's production issues with high-grade Llano parts would have left Apple with severely constrained supplies, while Intel was spending vast quantities of money courting Apple specifically to avoid a move to a rival chipmaker.

With Ultrabook sales expected to make up half of all laptop shipments by 2015, Apple's last-minute design switch could cost the chip giant dearly.