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Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 04:50 pm PT (07:50 pm ET)

NYT confirms Apple purchase of chipmaker Intrinsity

Confirming a rumor from early April, The New York Times on Tuesday reported that Apple purchased Intrinsity, a privately owned ARM chip design firm.

Citing "people familiar with the deal," the Times said that Apple purchased Intrinsity. The report also included an estimated $121 million purchase price, provided by Tom R. Halfill, an analyst with Microprocessor Report.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling indirectly confirmed the purchase, stating that the the hardware maker "buys smaller technology companies from time to time." However, he added that Apple does not reveal "purpose or plans" with any acquisition.

Sources also confirmed to the Times that Intrinsity helped to design the custom A4 processor found in the recently released iPad. Weeks ago, one analyst suggested that only Intrinsity could have delivered the A4 processor with its snappy 1GHz clock speed. The Cortex-A8 reference design on which the A4 is based can only be clocked up to 650MHz.

In early April, rumors first surfaced that Apple purchased Intrinsity to help build the A4. Evidence to support the acquisition surfaced when a number of Intrinsity employees changed their company status on LinkedIn to Apple on the first of the month.

It's yet another purchase for Apple in the mobile processor space. In 2008, Apple also bought fabless chip designer P.A. Semi for $278 million in 2008.

Apple also bought a 3 percent stake in 2008 in Imagination Technologies, maker of the PowerVR mobile graphics chip found in the company's mobile devices, including the iPhone. Last year, Apple bumped its share to 9.5 percent. In addition to partnering with Apple, Imagination also competes with ARM Holdings, which makes the reference designs for chips that power the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Last week, a rumor surfaced that Apple was looking to buy ARM, though the company's CEO quickly downplayed that speculation, suggesting an acquisition would be of little benefit to Apple. Again on Tuesday, ARM's CEO made an attempt to dispel rumors of an Apple takeover during a quarterly conference call in which the British chip designer reported record sales.

Speculation of Apple purchases have persisted for some time, as Apple has accrued a massive amount of cash and reserves. Earlier this year, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said Apple must "think big" with its massive war chest of $40 billion. The CEO also said that his company would take "big," bold" risks.