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Confirmed: Apple moving to Intel Processors

Frankly, I'm stunned. The rumors have been out there for 20 years. In the last few weeks it has been deafening, but there were thousands of arguments against this. (notice my bolding)

WWDC: Apple drops IBM PowerPC line for Intel chips

At its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) today, Apple announced plans to begin delivering models of its Macintosh computers using Intel microprocessors by June 2006, and to transition all of its Macs to using Intel microprocessors by the end of 2007. Apple previewed a Mac OS X Tiger system running on an Intel-based Mac to the audience of developers attending Apple CEO Steve Jobs' keynote address.

The move marks a major shift for Apple, which has long relied on PowerPC chips from IBM to drive its computers. To help with the switch, Apple also announced the availability of a Developer Transition Kit, consisting of an Intel-based Mac development system along with preview versions of Apple's software, which will allow developers to prepare versions of their applications which will run on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs.

"Our goal is to provide our customers with the best personal computers in the world, and looking ahead Intel has the strongest processor roadmap by far," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "It's been ten years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel's technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years."

"We are thrilled to have the world's most innovative personal computer company as a customer," said Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel. "Apple helped found the PC industry and throughout the years has been known for fresh ideas and new approaches. We look forward to providing advanced chip technologies, and to collaborating on new initiatives, to help Apple continue to deliver innovative products for years to come."

The key words here must be "looking ahread" and "roadmap." Today the IBM PowerPC outclasses the Intel line of processors in basically every measure available. (except cost) Switching today makes no sense, it is a downgrade. Intel must have something in the pipe worth having. Also if Apple were shopping for a new processor, I'm sure they spoke to AMD. Since AMD (presently) makes better (and cheaper) processors than Intel, it is curious that Intel got the business.

I dunno... I must confess I'm behind the 8-Ball on this story. I read the rumors and gave it a 5% chance of being true so I'm just getting caught up. I'll update if I find something. In the mean time, random thoughts:

#1 Apple will be one of Intel's top 3 customers. (or higher)

#2 What about the heat? Mac users don't want 50 fans buzzing all day long like on a PC.

#3 If this were a regular news story, I'd call for the 48 hour rule... but all they did is report on what Jobs said. How hard can that be?

Update: My first hunch was dead right. From an interview on CNBC:

"We have a good relationship with IBM, and they've got a product road map, and today, the products are really good," Jobs said when asked what IBM had failed to deliver, in his estimation. "But as we look out into the future, where we want to go is maybe a little bit different. We can envision some awesome products we want to build for our customers in the next few years, and as we look out a year or two in the future, Intel's processor roadmap really aligns with where we want to go much more than any other."

Now it makes perfect sense. We've all known for years that OSX was up and running Intel hardware. OpenDarwin was not there for nothing. With the way the FreeBSD kernel handles hardware, Apple could spec out clones in about 30 minutes. (see Open Darwin HCL for a preview)

In the "winners and losers" category, AMD must be in the losers column and I'm not sure yet where I'm putting Microsoft.

Random thought #4- Apple has a LONG history of signing exclusive contracts with vendors. I wonder if Apple will get better Intel chips than the clone makers?

Update: Since some people see the word APPLE as a reason to start a flame war and get stupid, I just closed the comments to stop it before it starts. I'm really tired of not being able to post interesting topics because of the stupidity of others...

Update II: Jay Tea adds: with regards to the thermal issue Paul mentioned above, this article over at Tom's Hardware could be moved from "interesting" to "seriously relevant," or even "eye-opening." Could Apple and Intel be looking at further evolution of the Pentium III/Pentium M architecture, while the Pentium 4 remains the Microsoft processor of choice?


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