P.A. Semi

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P.A. Semi Inc.
IndustryFabless semiconductor company
FounderDaniel W. Dobberpuhl
FateAcquired by Apple in 2008.
ProductsPWRficient processor
Number of employees
150 person engineering team
ParentApple Inc.

P. A. Semi (originally Palo Alto Semiconductor[1]) was an American fabless semiconductor company founded in Santa Clara, California in 2003 by Daniel W. Dobberpuhl,[2][3] 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.[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 were rumors that P. A. Semi had a relationship with Apple that suggested Apple would be the premier user of the PWRficient processors. That relationship supposedly ended with the Mac transition to Intel processors when Apple switched from the PowerPC to Intel's Core processors for their entire line of computers.[7]

Acquisition by Apple[edit]

On 23 April 2008, Apple announced that they had acquired P. A. Semi. While Apple's previous relationship with P. A. Semi (see above) would indicate that Apple could use their processors, P. A. Semi manufactures only Power ISA processors, which Apple did not use at the time.

On 11 June 2008, during the annual Worldwide Developer's Conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said 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]


  1. ^ Kanellos, Michael (2005-10-24). "Start-up plans new energy-efficient processor". ZDNet. Retrieved 2020-06-25.
  2. ^ Maiellaro, Bridget (2008-08-24). "Apple purchases alum's microchip company". ECE Illinois. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Archived from the original on 2012-12-29. Retrieved 2008-06-13.
  3. ^ MacCrae, Afred U. (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. Archived from the original on April 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  5. ^ Vance, Ashlee. "PA Semi heads to 16 cores on back of $50m boost". The Register. Retrieved 2006-10-17.
  6. ^ "Press release". P. A. Semi. Archived from the original on 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2007-02-07.
  7. ^ Vance, Ashlee (2006-05-19). "Apple shunned superstar chip start-up for Intel". The Register. Retrieved 2006-05-19.
  8. ^ Wingfield, Nick. "Jobs Still Hearts Intel". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
  9. ^ Vance, Ashlee; Stone, Brad (2010-02-02). "A Little Chip Designed by Apple Itself". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  10. ^ Merritt, Rick. "DoD may push back on Apple's P. A. Semi bid". EE Times. Retrieved 2008-04-23.

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