July 28th 2008
By Mike Flaminio
AppleInsider is reporting whispers that the mothership will move its computer product lines away from Intel-designed chipsets and back to proprietary solutions, like the days of the PPC when Apple deployed custom chipsets specific to the platform and even individual product lines.
As such, people familiar with these plans say an upcoming generation of Macs, lead by a trio of redesigned notebooks, won't adopt the Montevina chipset announced as part of Intel's Centrino 2 mobile platform earlier this month. What's more, those same people suggest the chipset employed by the new wave of Macs may have little or nothing to do with Intel at all.
Apple will continue to employ Intel CPUs, but the chipsets that manage memory, graphics and I/O will come from a still unknown source, perhaps designed by Apple and fabbed independently.
Without a chipset to stand on...
In its write up, AppleInsider quotes comments from Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer made during last week's quarterly results conference call as a possible veiled confirmation of this move.
"We have some investments in front of us that I can't discuss with you today where we're going to be delivering state-of-the-art, new products that our competitors just aren't going to be able to match..."
Building out advanced technologies unavailable to competitors may indeed be one motivation. Another potential source of inspiration for this possible move (large grain o' salt) back to proprietary chipsets could be that it would be an effective means of blocking the growing groundswell of Mac cloners, which are marketing generic PC hardware as Mac compatible and ready.
It's a matter of fact that Apple's current computer hardware offerings differ little if at all from Intel's stock solutions used by name brand and white box PC vendors, making it easy for a knowledgeable and motivated individual to install and run OS X on cheap off-the-shelf PC hardware. That some of these people--PsyStar, Open Tech, RSOL PC--are attempting to turn this savvy into a business should come as a surprise.
Timing is everything?
Although Apple is suing PsyStar, knowledgeable sources say the Cupertino computer maker may not prevail in court, which could lead to a flood of cheap, non-Apple computers. That said, it may be more than a coincidence that Apple may be returning to its proprietary (ie closed) ways at just the time that people are connecting the dots between the Mac's Intel underpinnings and new, non-Apple hardware business opportunities...
What's your take?