Clues in a patent filed by Apple in 2004 but just made public Nov. 3 by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office point to what Apple may be doing on the new Apple-Intel machines due out in 2006.
Patent application 20050246554 by James D. Batson (and assigned to Apple) was first filed on April 30, 2004. (Interestingly, that was around the timeframe that Microsoft bought Virtual PC from Connectix.) It deals with a “[s]ystem and method for creating tamper-resistant code.” In short, the application describes a method of taking one kind of code block, transforming it into another code block, which is then executed (if allowed to run by the system.)
While the actual tamper-resistance method is only broadly specified in the application, Claim 5 of the application states that the method takes information and runs on a virtual machine, while Claim 8 states that the resultant code is designed to run on a virtual machine.
This stated use of virtual machines dovetails with Intels previously announced virtual machine technology. Intel states on its Web site, “Virtualization enhanced by Intel Virtualization Technology will allow a platform to run multiple operating systems and applications in independent partitions.” It therefore seems reasonable to infer that the tamper-resistant method will run without problem on the Intel hardware that is scheduled to use the technology in 2006, the timeframe that Apple has previously announced will see the first Macs on Intel.