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What has been nearly likely to happen for the last ten years has just happened today in San Francisco, California: Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, announced that his company would shift to processors that feature x86 architecture, marking a significant milestone for the company and unleashing many possibilities for the company to grow.

Intel Has Strongest Processor Roadmap – Apple

“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. 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,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

Apple announced plans to deliver models of its Macintosh computers using Intel microprocessors by this time next year, and to transition all of its Macs to using Intel microprocessors by the end of 2007, the company said at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco, California.

Apple previewed a version of its operating system, Mac OS X Tiger, running on an Intel- based Mac to the over 3800 developers attending CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote address. 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.

Apple Changes Direction Towards “Intel Inside”

Partnership with Intel Corp. will not only allow Apple to use both affordable and high-performance microprocessors from Intel’s lineup targeting different customers and using industry standard components, but also will allow the firm to use Intel Centrino mobile platform to offer advanced notebooks that provide world-class performance in terms of processing power, I/O and network connectivity.

Even though Apple plans to change the platform it uses for its Mac computers, users of Macs are unlikely to see a significant impact on their experience because of that, as the company plans to offer the same software for the forthcoming x86-based computers as it does with the PowerPC-based PCs sold now.

It is unclear how Apple plans to prevent its Mac OS X and appropriate software from running on other computers powered by Intel Corp.’s, or any other x86 microprocessors.

The Developer Transition Kit is available starting today for $999 to all Apple Developer Connection Select and Premier members. It is unclear, which processor is used in Apple Developer Connection Select. Intel plans to provide development tools support for Apple later this year, including the Intel C/C++ Compiler for Apple, Intel Fortran Compiler for Apple, Intel Math Kernel Libraries for Apple and Intel Integrated Performance Primitives for Apple.

Effect on IBM Yet Unclear

Apple Computer has been utilising IBM’s PowerPC chips and derivatives since the year 1994 and throughout this decade various observers and analysts predicted that the computer maker would ditch using the microprocessors in favour of Intel’s chips as a consequence of slow performance progress of IBM’s central processing units as well as relatively narrow family of chips it offered to Apple, which limited opportunities for Apple to target different market segments with its products. Still, the company remained loyal to its chip supplier. Now it seems that Apple no longer plans to bear with the issues it faced with IBM’s PowerPC.

While this is a big deal for Apple to throw out IBM’s chips from its machines, significance of this business for IBM is not really evident from the revenue standpoint. Last quarter, according to some reports, Apple sold 1.07 million computers, which is not really a lot. Still, it could be important for IBM to provide Apple with PowerPC chips in order to leverage the influence of this architecture. For instance, all three next-generation game consoles from Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony will be powered by chips that use PowerPC architecture. Furthermore, IBM offers consumer electronics designers to design PowerPC derivative processors for their needs.


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