Apple and Intel, ‘Official’

According to CNet, it’s official; Apple are dropping IBM in favour of Intel.

Now the rumors fly regularly, and I’ve covered the recent rumors here.

CNet claim it’s official, yet everybody invovled has denied that anything is happening. There’s also some interesting wording. The article very specifically says:

Apple Computer plans to announce Monday that it’s scrapping its partnership with IBM and switching its computers to Intel’s microprocessors, CNET has learned.

Note that there’s no mention of PowerPC or indeed Pentium/Xeon in that blanket statement, although the article goes on to make comments on the move away from PowerPC, and how Apple has made the migration once already (from Motorola’s 680×0 chips). They also make the same comments I did last week; that Mac OS X is now comparatively easy to migrate (because BSD already runs on x86 hardware).

There are also a number of analysts who agree with me that the move seems unlikely. And again, I covered that in last weeks post, including the strange situation that would occur if Apple decided to go the Intel route of the HyperTransport bus (an AMD technology, already in use on the G5-based Macs). There’s also the potential problem that Intels 64-bit chips are nowhere near as well received as either the G5 or AMD CPUs, which could mean a potential backwards step at a time when Apple are pushing 64-bit like crazy.

Now let’s add some more thoughts into the mix.

The PowerPC standard is relatively open. Freescale (spun off from Motorola) makes the G4s inside current PowerBooks, the Mac Mini and the eMac. So it’s not a big leap to expect somebody else to start making PowerPC CPUs.

Meanwhile, Intel are losing ground on their x86 chips to AMD, and that probably means there’s some spare capacity at their manufacturing plants. Intel also have a wealth of experience of building CPUs, especially large and complex ones with high clock rates, low-power models for use in laptops, and they now have dual-core technology in their own Xeon CPUs. There was also a story earlier this week (Analysts: Dual-Core PowerPC G5s Due for Apple) that analysts expect dual-core PowerPC chips seen, including a low power version, soon.

So looking back at the original statement, could we actually be looking at Intel making PowerPC chips for Apple?

My money is still on the whole Intel/Apple arrangement relating to laptop chipsets and/or wireless networking based on the WiMAX standard.

Monday is certainly going to be interesting.