As the Mac world waits to find our whether rumours that Apple will switch its chips for ones made by Intel are true, a number of industry watchers are making predictions about what the two companies may have up their respective sleeves.
One suggestion is that Apple may be seeking to incorporate Intel's new dual-core processor Pentium D and its accompanying 945 chip set. The new chip supports a DRM that could enable secure distribution for an online movie store.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to reveal all in a Keynote later tonight.
Respect at source
Daring Fireball John Gruber makes a similar observation in his blog, noting that rumours and rubbish do get published on the web, "but not in CNet, which has a pretty good track record, and certainly not in the Wall Street Journal, which many consider the most-respected newspaper in the world."
Hooray for Hollywood
Hollywood is the reason behind the move, Kahney maintains. "Apple wants Intel's new Pentium D chips," explains Kahney. These dual-core chips include a hardware copy protection scheme that prevents unauthorized copying and distribution of copyrighted materials from the motherboard.
PC World reported at the time of launch that Microsoft-flavoured DRM technology would feature in the dual-core processor Pentium D and the accompanying 945 chip set.
"[The] 945g [chip set] supports DRM, it helps implement Microsoft's DRM ... but it supports DRM looking forward," Intel's Australian technical manager Graham Tucker told PC World, adding the DRM technology would not be able to be applied retrospectively to media or files that did not interoperate with the new technology.Movies in store
Kahney speculates: "Apple - or rather, Hollywood - wants the Pentium D to secure an online movie store (iFlicks if you will), that will allow consumers to buy or rent new movies on demand, over the Internet."
This makes some sense in the light of News.com's report. That report suggest the Intel transition will occur first in the summer with the Mac mini being one of the first to make the move. "I'll bet [the Mac mini] will become a mini-Tivo-cum-home-server," writes Kahney.
He elaborates further: "Hooked to the internet, it will allow movies to be ordered and stored, and if this News.com piece is correct, loaded onto the video iPod that's in the works."
"In the PC industry, Apple lost the productivity/office era to Microsoft, but it's trying to get the jump on the next big thing: the entertainment/creativity era, and it's going to drag it users, even if they're kicking and screaming, with it", is Kahney's conclusion.
An alternative solution is put forward by Gruber. His theory is that "Intel is set to begin production of PowerPC processors." He thinks this more likely than the Wall Street Journal's report that Apple will switch the Mac to Intel's x86 architecture.
Gruber's concern is that a gradual move to the new and different processors could stop people upgrading their Mac systems, the so-called "Osborne effect, wherein by pre-announcing future hardware, sales of current hardware evaporate".
Apple/Intel rumours had been dismissed in the past as such a switch would involve too much work for Apple and its developers. Kahney highlights a "fast, transparent, universal emulator" from Transitive that could make switching Mac software to a new platform less of a disruption.
"If Apple has licensed [Transitive's] QuickTransit for an Intel-powered Mac, all current applications should just work, no user or developer intervention required," writes Kahney.
But, as Gruber points out: "If there’s nothing more to the story - if it’s just a case of Apple switching the Mac from PowerPC to x86 Intel processors - it makes no sense."