After years of going with IBM to produce chips for their computers, Apple is moving to x486 architecture and will begin using chips produce by Intel. I’m sure you’ve already heard of this. Nagle and Chris are up on their Mac news and Chip and Jason are as up on their general geek news as I am. If not, I’m sorry this is how you found out. Please turn you attention to a press release or two.

I’m not surprised in the least. First a move from OS9 to a linux based OSX, then rumors of the Marklar project about their PC compatible software. This has been a long time coming.

I like the part where they say “No, OSX will never be on anything other than Apple hardware” but… “Windows? Well, we wouldn’t stop you”.

Give it 1 year. 2 tops.

If you think people weren’t porting Apple OS to the PC before, just wait until they get their hands on a OSX version written for the x86 platform.

The official company line is that their not getting “into the software buisness” and won’t be selling OSX for PCs. That’s going to fuck’em. You think Microsoft isn’t going to jump at the chance to own not just PCs but Mac desktops as well? They’re going to push Longhorn HARD at Mac users, probably getting a few to switch as well. A lot of people don’t like having a PC at the office and a Mac at home, and this would just add a level of compatibility and reduce their conversion aggravations.

After saying all that, I think it’s a good move with the chips at least. The PowerPC chips are woefully underpowered. I read someone blogging about how the PowerPC chips are more “sophisticated” and contained millions of more calculations a second, or some bullshit like that. Yeah, so that’s why my old 2100+ AMD can open Photoshop faster than a G5 right? Because the Mac is doing it with sophistication? OK.

At least now we can see some real benchmarks. Before all we had were synthetic guesses at what comparable Mac vs PC test were.

If the new Macs have the equivalent of Pentium 4 (or higher) chips in them, they’ll be able to compete neck and neck with the fastest PCs. I would LOVE to see Apple win, and thats not sarcasm. I honestly think a P4 (or P5 at that point) Mac running a x86 version of OSX would be faster than the same P5 running Longhorn. I honestly do. But, since OSX will never be sold to PCs, they’ll be the preverbial “line in the sand” and we’ll all be making the same PC or Mac choice again. Only this time, the playing field is level, the computers are close in speed and you’ll have a choice of OS if you go Mac.

This can go one of two ways. Either comparable machines will go head to head and PCs will win because of Apples enormous price tag OR Apple drops the prices a bit, releases OSX for the PC, and we settle in for a long winter of back and forth competition.

Either way it’s exciting. I say Apple will take 20% of the market away from PC retailers AND will have to release OSX for the PC within 2 years of the first Intel Apples rolling off the line. Thats my prediction.

If I’m wrong, at least I’m not as wrong as this guy, who must be getting snickers all around the office this week.

Peter Glaskowsky, former editor of the Microprocessor Report, is an expert in the semiconductor business. Here’s what he told eWeek about the prospects of Apple switching the Mac to x86 processors:

“It’s a bunch of bull,” Peter Glaskowsky, analyst for The Envisioneering Group, in Seaford, N.Y., told Ziff Davis Internet News. “Firstly, Apple certainly pays much less for IBM and Freescale processors than Intel charges for comparable chips. Probably less than half as much on average. The G5 is a smaller, more efficient chip than the Pentium 4, and IBM has no other customers willing to buy large quantities.”