Register Reports That Apple May Be Looking To IBM For Future PowerPC Needs

The Register UKis Tony Smith has penned a piece from the rumor world that we found interesting enough to pass on to you. Mr. Smith is reporting that Apple has become increasingly frustrated with Motorolais inability to make longer strides in PowerPC development, and lays out the many issues that are involved. From that article:

Apple is becoming increasingly irritated with its prime PowerPC provider, Motorola, to the extent that it talking to fellow PowerPC partner, IBM, about how the platform can continue to evolve without the chips-to-cellphones giantis participation, sources close to the Mac maker have claimed.

We canit say weire entirely surprised. Like a marriage, the PowerPC alliance has seen its fair share of fights between partners, threats of divorce and, ultimately, reconciliation. Steve Jobsi decision to can Appleis clone programme didnit go down to well with Mac OS licensees Motorola and IBM, and those two later fell out over how the processor should be extended beyond the G3: Motorola wanted to leap ahead with the G4 and its vector processing technology, AltiVec, while IBM believed that there was still plenty of mileage to be made out of the G3 architecture.

Apple vs Motorola
Appleis current processor strategy is tied to Motorolais ability to get ever faster desktop processors to market. Given Motorolais record, itis no wonder Apple might be feeling frustrated. Megahertz Myth comments are all very well, but the bottom line (for now, at least - weive yet to see how AMDis new naming scheme tunes buyers into new performance metrics) is that it needs higher and higher clock speeds to avoid appearing to have been left way behind by the x86 world.

Whois in charge here?
To be fair to Motorola, its focus is directed toward other markets and Apple is only one of many, many PowerPC customers. Cisco, for instance, has committed itself to using the 7450 in next-generation routers. If the networking market picks up and begins to approach its size last year, Cisco could well become a bigger customer than Apple (assuming it isnit already). And at least Cisco wonit constantly whine about not keeping up with Intel et al and wonit impose unrealistic deadlines - something, we hear, Apple does rather a lot.

Essentially, both Motorola and Apple each want to define the pace and method by which PowerPC platform should evolve, and each wants to do so according to their own markets - the broad embedded arena for Motorola, or the narrow high-end desktop for Apple. These viewpoints arenit mutually exclusive, but they do bring very different priorities.

The piece then goes to speculate on whether or not it would be in Appleis best interest to buy out Motorolais high-end PowerPC business, or perhaps team up with IBM to buyout all of Motorola. Mr. Smith also suggests that Apple and IBM have already discussed such possibilities. There is a lot more that we have not quoted, and itis a very interesting read.