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Apple moving to Intel – “yeah, but it ain’t going to be x86… is it?”

Apple are going to announce today that they will be moving to chips manufactured by Intel – but will it be x86 ones (like you get in your windows PC) or will it just be chips manufactured to the existing PowerPC specifications?

Everyone seems to think it will be x86, with Apple-fanatics hoping this will make it finally possible to run OS X on your cheap Dell.

I guess it’s possible, after all Apple have always kept their prices high until the Mac Mini – so with their shift to low-profit margins on hardware, who knows what they will announce today.

As I was telling my good-pal Kosso over Dinner last night: this all revolves around “Project Marklar”.

Project Marklar was the never-denied internal project by Apple that effectively is OS-X-on-x86. It has always been used as “insurance” to keep IBM pushing the development of the PowerPC or face Apple’s conversion to x86, and loose the Apple business.

The rumoured reason why Apple are moving away from the current IBM chips is that they have reached the maximum speed they can be run at before cooling becomes impossible and the chips melt into to your motherboard. So it would appear that Apple’s insurance policy is about to be redeemed.

But my initial hunch is that today’s announcement will simply be Intel manufacturing chips to the existing PowerPC architecture, with some of Intel’s superior heat and power management to enable faster processor speeds to be realised.

UPDATE: Doc Searls seems to agree too.

Apple has a habit of usually putting whatever they announce at the conference on sale the same day. Seeing as we are only expecting a minor-update to Tiger to be released (10.4.2) I can’t see Marklar being a “point 2” release.

I think a move to Marklar would be a massive shift for Apple, if only because they would have two incompatible operating systems built for two different chip architectures to worry about. That’s before having to deal with the headache of people producing unofficial patches to get it running on their Dell’s.

But we’ll see. You never know with Apple.

Published in Thoughts and Rants Uncategorized