Business journal reports that Apple may be close to announcing its move to adopt IBM's PowerPC 970 processor in future products.

In its regular The Week Ahead column the magazine reports that "rumours are starting to build that Apple is closer than previously thought to releasing a computer with a new chip produced by IBM".

It continues: "It has been clear for some time that the chip is being aimed squarely at making Apple a big customer of IBM chips."

Microprocessor Review senior editor Tom Hafill has previously told Macworld: "The 970 is such an obvious improvement over today's G4 chips that it's hard to imagine Apple using anything else in its top-of-the-line desktop Macs and servers."

Adopting the processor would take Apple into 64-bit computing at reported speeds of up to 2.5GHz. The PowerPC 970 also offers a bus bandwidth rate of 900MHz, and a system bus capable of up to 6.4GB/s data throughput speeds.

When announcing the 970, IBM said its new processors would be ready for volume production by mid-2003. Forbes speculates that Apple CEO Steve Jobs may use his keynote speech at the forthcoming Worldwide Developer's Conference 2003 to discuss the move.

Apple issues no comment on unannounced products.