Apple has allegedly contracted Intel to help develop the motherboard for the next-generation Intel Power Mac.

A report on Apple Insider cites "reliable sources" for the rumour. The decision is described as likely to offer significant cost-saving for the company, and also likely to help Apple meet a much-accelerated move to migrate its entire product range to the new architecture.

Development is said to be taking place at Intel's Oregon plant, and to have been taking place since October 2005.

"With Apple moving aggressively to introduce four Intel-based Mac models in the first four months of 2006 - iMacs, 15-inch PowerBooks, 13-inch widescreen iBooks and Mac minis - resources at the company's engineering labs have worn thin," the report claims.

An analyst told Apple Insider of indications that the two companies may be developing a custom processor that will be made available only to Apple systems.

Apple's industrial design team will develop the external look of the new Power Macs, the report adds.