A week after Apple Computer Inc. said it would shift from IBM PowerPC to Intel Corp. Pentium chips, delivering what some might see as a huge blow to IBM, its business as usual in East Fishkill, N.Y., the de facto headquarters of IBMs chip group.
Although IBM, Apple and Motorola Inc. all once worked together to create the PowerPC, its now clear that the companies have gone separate ways, following Apples revelation that it will build Macintosh systems that use Intel processors starting next year.
For their part, officials at Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., say that even though the company will continue to offer for some time PowerPC-based Macs, it needed more power-efficient chips, and Intel was the logical choice to get them, despite the difficulties of porting Macintosh software.
IBM, meanwhile, is steeped in a new strategy of pushing custom chip design and manufacturing and services, as well as in efforts to make its Power chip architecture more open.
Motorolas chip group, now spun off as Freescale Semiconductor Inc., of Austin, Texas, is pursuing networking, automotive and other markets, analysts said.
“IBM is aggressively moving the Power Architecture beyond the PC, as shown by our recent successes with the next-generation gaming systems announced by Sony [Corp.], Microsoft [Corp.] and Nintendo [Co. Ltd.],” IBM said in a statement. “IBM is focused on the highest value opportunities in each marketplace, and our direction with the Power Architecture is consistent with that strategy.”
Although the company is parting ways with Apple, IBMs chip business appears intact, analysts said. However, the same cannot be said for the PowerPC chip itself.
“This is the end of an era; when they got together [to create the PowerPC], it was [at] Apples behest,” said Kevin Krewell of Microprocessor Report, in San Jose, Calif.
John Spooner is a senior writer at eWEEK.com; Mark Hachman is news editor of extremetech.com.