Apple CEO Steve Jobs is reportedly set to announce today that Apple will switch from the PowerPC chip to an Intel x86-based chip. Jobs is delivering a keynote at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco.
Apple has not traditionally used an Intel-based processor in any of its offerings. The first Apple computers used Motorola chips (Motorola’s semiconductor unit is now called FreeScale) and have been using the PowerPC chip, developed by IBM and Motorola since 1991.
According to published reports, the switch from PowerPC to Intel x86 would require Apple developers to rewrite software in order to adapt to the new processor.
The PowerPC is a RISC chip as opposed to Intel’s x86 chips which are CISC. Intel’s x86 processors dominate the market and have increasingly been eating into RISC market share predominately used in UNIX environments.
Jonathan Schwartz CEO of Sun Microsystems wrote in his blog that he’s glad to see that Jobs is considering a new platform for Apple. Schwartz went a step further and ”invited” Jobs to consider moving the next Mac OS to a Solaris-based foundation.
”I’d like to personally invite you to adopt Solaris 10 as the underpinning of the next-generation Mac,” Schwartz wrote. ”We both respect Unix, both respect innovation, and both clearly see volume opportunities in extending choice to developers. We’d love to work together.”
Whether Apple actually moves away from PowerPC, the PowerPC platform itself has racked up a number of wins recently. The highly anticipated Sony Playstation 3 will be powered by the IBM Cell processor that includes a PowerPC control processor. Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox 360 also includes an IBM PowerPC chip.
This article was first published on internetnews.com.