AMD Fusion Processors Coming to Future Apple Computers? [Updated]

AMD (s amd) recently spilled the beans on an upcoming partnership with Apple (s aapl) during an AMD Financial Analyst Day presentation. Senior VP and Chief Sales Officer Emilio Ghilardi gave a presentation to analysts in attendance which confirmed Apple will be a hardware partner for its Fusion processing platform.

The presentation, as reported by Fudzilla, was about AMD’s upcoming Fusion platform. Fusion is AMD’s new Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), which combines both CPU and GPU capabilities on a single-die processor. The platform is expected to debut in early 2011, and should make it easier for software developers to leverage the computing power of both types of processor.

During Ghilardi’s presentation, he showed one slide featuring Apple’s iMac and Mac Pro computers, with official Apple branding and even a “Courtesy of Apple” attribution at the bottom, during a segment about hardware partner. The AMD executive didn’t comment, saying only “I’ll flash through them very quickly.”

AMD announced yesterday that some Fusion shipments have already started making their way into manufacturer’s hands, so it’s entirely possible that Apple is already playing with the the APUs in pre-production test units. Which could mean we’ll see AMD-equipped Macs as soon as first or second quarter next year.

The introduction of the Fusion platform would mean that Apple will be parting ways with Intel for the first time since it originally partnered with the chipmaker in January of 2006 for a Core Duo-powered iMac. Since then, Apple Intel has provided the processor for the entire Mac line of computers, including the most recently announced MacBook Air.

Fusion is said to provide advantages in terms of visuals, power and design simplicity, and ease of software development. All of these are things that would appeal to Apple, a company focused on providing visually stunning displays and ever simpler system internals. And if Fusion really does make it easier for developers to leverage processing power, it should be a perfect fit with the upcoming Mac App Store.

UPDATE: A spokesman for AMD said that the slide in question was included simply to indicate that Apple is a current AMD hardware partner, not to indicate that it will or won’t be a Fusion platform user in the future. The representative couldn’t comment about Apple’s possible adoption of Fusion processors in upcoming models.

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