Claims that Apple is currently in talks with Intel has sparked a number of ideas about what the two companies could have up their sleeves, with one reporter noting that by working with Apple, Intel could take its share of the iPod halo.

If Apple does indeed start working with Intel, TopTechNews thinks it will be Intel that benefits. A reporter writes: "For Intel, winning over Apple would be a prestigious endorsement from one of technology's most influential trendsetters. It could result in a halo effect for Intel due to Apple's popular iPod music player."

Fortune reporter David Kirkpatrick notes that PC makers are wooing Jobs to let them license OS X and adapt it to computers built around standard Intel chips and suggests that talks with Intel could be a result of this interest.

Even Intel CEO Paul Otellini has told consumers: "buy a Mac if you want to avoid security risks".

In a previous Fortune article (re-published in full in Macworld's May issue) Jobs revealed that three of the biggest PC companies wanted to license the Mac OS, but he had turned them down.

Heat of the moment

Another suggestion put forward by Kirkpatrick is that an Intel chip could solve the heat problem associated with the PowerPC G5 chip. While IBM's G5 chip currently proves too hot to be used in a PowerBook, "Intel builds low-power, low-heat chips, especially for portable computers," writes Kirkpatrick.

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal suggested the talks could even be a tactic to gain negotiating leverage with Apple's current chip supplier, IBM.

Another suggestion is that Intel's critical involvement in manufacturing WiMax - a proposed new wireless broadband standard (802.16) that could enable multimedia applications to be accessed over a range of up to 30 miles - and wireless USB chips could be the caues of Apple's interet in the company.

In November 2004, Intel president and COO Paul Otellini said Intel is taking steps to get WiMAX wireless broadband technology into shipping products and that there are now 140 companies in the WiMAX Forum. By 2008, he expects Wi-Fi technology to be in almost every notebook PC, writes PC Magazine.

Mercury Research analyst Dean McCarron suggested that Apple's main motivation for moving to Intel's x86 chips would be to lower its costs, or gain access to technology that it doesn't think IBM will have in the near future.

Another explaination for Apple's talks with Intel could be the Xserve. Apple's Xserve RAID was Whereverrecently seen on display at the Intel Developer Forum because it runs on an Intel chip. According to Intel the Xserve RAID uses Intel's IOP 331 chip. The IOP chip is used in many storage systems and is designed to speed up the task of shuttling data in and out of a computer system.

No chance

Technology Business Research analyst, Tim Deal doesn't believe that the talks are about the processor. "If there are [talks], then it is likely for reasons much more innocuous than many are presuming," he said, hinting: "Is it possible that future iPods will feature PDA functionality?"

Others think that having the Mac OS run on an Intel-based processor would take more time and resources than Apple may be willing to give, not to mention the transition developers would have to make. Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin said: "To port to an x86 platform would be a massive undertaking and I'm highly suspicious of that."

Macs are based on the PowerPC instruction set while Intel's chips use the x86 instruction set, which has provided the operating orders for Windows-based PCs since the 1980s. Software developed for one architecture does not run on the other architecture without a software emulator that usually slows performance dramatically.

If Apple was to switch to using x86 chips it would have to get all of its Mac-friendly software partners to port their applications to a version of Mac OS based on the x86 architecture.

The TopTechNews reporter adds one warning: "Hackers might turn Macs into Windows PCs if it turns out that the only major thing that separates the two is the operating system."

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