In its recent release of its new Power Mac G5 line, Apple Computer has shown that it will rely on the dual-core PowerPC processor for at least a few years longer.
Although the company has noted that it will start moving its computers to Intel's x86 chips in the next year, putting a PowerPC chip into a new line could be an indication that it will use IBM's PowerPC 970MP longer than some analysts had expected.
Although it is expected that Apple will transition all of its computers, both desktop and laptop, to Intel chips eventually, for now it is likely that the computer maker will use PowerPC chips for as long as they make sense for Apple's efforts.
"Apple is very aware of what chips need to go in which machines and when," said Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler. "That's part of the reason they made the switch to Intel."
Most likely, the Intel chips first will begin to appear in laptops because Intel has been focused on building chips that work more effectively in portable devices.
"The chip inside the computer tends to make only a minor difference to the computing experience unless it affects battery life in laptops," said Schadler.
Slow and Steady
The use of PowerPC chips for at least another year also should give software developers time to make adjustments to applications and other products that will be affected by the chip switch.
Analysts have noted, too, that corporations using Power Macs might need more time in their upgrade cycles for the changeover.
Apple has noted that it will use dynamic translation software called Rosetta to transition applications designed for PowerPC chips to run on Intel systems, but many still expect that there will be some potholes in the road to switching.
Analysts have noted that, despite Apple's transition plans, companies do not need to refrain from buying Power Macs.