Forbes is reporting that Apple has acquired chip designer, PA Semi, although Apple will not confirm the purchase.

PA Semi designs processors based on the Power architecture that Apple used in its Mac computers for many years before adopting Intel's x86 chips. Apple does not currently use any PA Semi chips in its products.

PA Semi now specialises in lower power chips that claim to deliver three to four times the performance of existing chips for the same energy consumption.

This rumoured purchase has led to speculation that Apple could employ PA Semi chips in future versions of the iPhone and iPod, rather than Intel's Atom offering.

Apple apparently paid $278 million for the company according to a "person familiar with the deal".

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not comment on our purposes and plans", said Apple spokesman.