Industry analysts and others have confirmed that Intel Corp. has formed an internal “Apple group.” This group, formed in the wake of Apple Computer Inc.s decision to base its next generation of Macintosh computers on Intel processors, is comprised of engineers and sales staff.
Intel has similar groups for other large clients such as Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard. Specifics on the Apple group are sparse, however. Details are considered confidential internal information, said Intel representative Tom Beerman.
“Intels goal is to sell as many chips as possible, of course,” said Mark Margevicius, a research director at the industry analysis firm Gartner Inc. Towards that, he said, Intel sets up groups “to work with as many unique suppliers as possible.”
He also noted that although the official Apple group is new, Intel has had “skunkwork” operations over the years to demonstrate technologies to potential customer Apple. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has admitted that Apple has long maintained an Intel-compatible version of Mac OS X, code-named Marklar.
Margevicius said he had little information on the group, and that both Intel and Apple had been “deliberately vague” when discussing their working relationship.
However, he said that he thought one reason for the deal, and Apples move from its long-time PowerPC basis, was clear.
“Apple feels the pressure of the market and needs to deliver low-cost, high-performance products,” Margevicius said.
Margevicius noted that Intel makes not only processors, but entire motherboards, including modules for wireless networking.
He said that if Apple should move away from its previous practice of designing its own motherboards and use, for example, Intels Napa platform, this could lead to economies of scale, which could reduce Apples costs and costs to the consumer.
“If Apple is looking to grow the platform, they have to be cost-competitive,” he said.
Margevicius said that he has no information about what Intel components Apple is planning to use on its upcoming Intel-based products, the first of which should arrive in 2006.
However, he noted that Intels new multicore Yonah processor, if not the whole notebook-centric Napa platform, would be well-suited for Apple portable computers.
“In a multi-core chip,” Margevicius said, “each core can do more work, or the processor can do the same amount of work with each core working less hard.”
By using two cores at a lower clock speed, he said, a processor can work better at a lower power level, which means longer battery life and less heat in a laptop.