Intel upgraded its software development tools on Wednesday to help Mac OS X Leopard applications perform better on Intel's Penryn processors, suggesting the power-efficient chips may be offered soon in Apple Macs.

The timing of the update suggests that Apple will unveil the new Mac Pro during Steve Jobs' Macworld Expo keynote speech, 15 January.

The Intel Software Development Products for Mac OS X includes updated compilers and libraries for development environments like C, C++ and Fortran that optimize applications to take advantage of features in Intel's latest 64-bit multi-core processors, said James Reinders, director of marketing for Intel's software development products division.

The updated tools will optimize applications to take advantage of features like SSE4, a set of instructions that debuted on Intel's latest Penryn processors to boost multimedia performance in systems.

Apple has been tight-lipped about offering new Macs with Penryn, although many speculate that Apple's Mac Pro workstations will be the first to include the chips, which are manufactured using a 45-nanometre process to boost performance.

Many of the updates to Intel's tools focus on optimizing applications for dual- and quad-core processors. The updated compilers and libraries enable programmers to build better scalable, multi-threaded applications for multicore systems using Apple's Xcode 3.0 IDE (integrated development environment) and Leopard OS, Reinders said.

Xcode 3.0 includes a set of tools to create, debug and optimize applications. Intel's tools integrate with Xcode 3.0 and have been tested for Leopard, Reinders said.

The compilers and libraries are also supported by Linux and Windows, Reinders said, making it easier for developers to offer their products for the Apple environment. Apple used the software tools to make Leopard better and faster, Reinders said.

The latest 10.1 version will include the updated Intel C++ Compiler and Fortran Compiler, as well as Threading Building Blocks, Math Kernel Libraries and Performance Primitives. Although the compilers and libraries are available separately, all of them are included in the Intel C++ Compiler Professional Edition package.

The tools are available for download from Intel's website.