Little is known about the new MacBook Pro except the case, shown here, which will feature a removable hard-drive battery compartment cover. Could Apple have secret plans up its sleeve?  (Source:
Apple could be on the verge of shaking up its all-Intel CPU/chipset arrangement

Mention Apple in the tech community and one is sure to invoke a firestorm of criticism and debate.  Indeed few topics excite tech readers quite like the moves of Apple which tends to draw inordinately passionate praise and criticism.  However, one of the few moves that both critics and supporters alike seemed to agree was good news was "Mactel" -- Apple moving to adopt Intel processors and chipsets, starting in 2006.

Now it appears that the Mactel romance, which helped propel Apple to a modest marketshare and a third place spot in PC sales may be on the rocks, if new reports are to be believed.  While Apple will continue using the microprocessor giant's CPUs, a report from AppleInsider cites an inside source as saying that Apple will ditch Intel's chipsets in the new Apple computers that are scheduled to be announced in coming weeks.

Currently Apple uses the same Santa Rosa mobile platform that competitors Dell and HP use, just slightly tweaked for an OS X world.  However, according to the report, Apple believes that by moving away from Intel chipsets, it can set itself above the competition.  According to the reports the upcoming trio of Macbooks to be announced in several weeks will not feature the Montevina chipset, the chipset component of Intel's Centrino 2 platform.

What remains unspecific is what Apple plans to replace Intel's chipsets with.  One thing seems certain; whoever is making the new chipset is going to need an Intel licensing agreement, which could lead to an awkward situation for Apple.  One line of thinking is that Apple may revert to developing its own proprietary chipset as it did in the PowerPC days.  These thinkers point to Apple's acquisition of chipset company P.A. Semi.  However, Apple has previously insisted that this acquisition is purely to drive iPhone and iPod Touch chipset efforts.

Others believe that the new systems will feature NVIDIA or VIA chipsets, which would solve the licensing problems and could likely prove more full-featured than Intel's designs.  Many are hopeful that Apple will adopt this approach. 

It appears that a couple factors may be driving Apple's possible departure from Intel chipsets.  One is power consumption.  Intel's integrated graphics and chipset offerings are overly power hungry according to some analysts.  Another factor is unique capability -- Apple may be looking for unique features that Intel cannot provide it.

The reports could have something to do with Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer's comments during a conference call in which he stated boldly that Apple will be unveiling new technologies that will hurt its profit margins but send competitors reeling.  Said Mr. Oppenheimer, "We have some investments in front of us that I can’t discuss with you today where we’re going to be delivering state of the art new products that our competitors just aren’t going to be able to match and as a result, I would see gross margins being about 30 percent and that’s – that’s all I can tell you at this point." 

The comments echo allusions made by Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently that Apple will soon be revealing game-changing new products.  Both executives’ comments are out of character for Apple which has built a reputation for secrecy.

The official word from Apple and whatever it has up its sleeve is expected to coincide with the announcement of the new MacBooks which is coming in 6 to 8 weeks.  The new MacBooks are expected to release in time for the back-to-school shopping rush.

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs

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