If you’ve gone anywhere near your computer this weekend you’ll have noticed all the stories about Apple’s supposed plan to shift from IBM Power PC chips to Intel chips in its Macintosh computers. A Wall Street Journal story earlier in the week claiming that this shift might be in the offing caused Apple’s stock to pop 6%, but most followers of Jobs and company doubted the report. Now, however, with the official announcement less than 24 hours away, it’s being reported as near fact. For Mac fans, it’s a big deal, as the architecture of the new chip will require rewriting of all Apple programs, a process that developers recently had to go through when Mac shifted to the Linux-based OS X.
The initial obvious reason for the shift is speed. Apple has reportedly been frustrated with IBM’s ability to produce faster chips on a competitive timetable. But on the Cult of Mac blog on the Wired site, Leander Kahney has a different explanation, and it has to do with the movies:
“But why would Apple do this?” Kahney writes. “Because Apple wants Intel’s new Pentium D chips.
Released just a few days ago, the dual-core chips include a hardware copy protection scheme that prevents ‘unauthorized copying and distribution of copyrighted materials from the motherboard,’ according to PC World.
Apple — or rather, Hollywood — wants the Pentium D to secure an online movie store (iFlicks if you will), that will allow consumers to buy or rent new movies on demand, over the Internet.
According to News.com, the Intel transition will occur first in the summer with the Mac mini, which I’ll bet will become a mini-Tivo-cum-home-server.
Hooked to the Internet, it will allow movies to be ordered and stored, and if this News.com piece is correct, loaded onto the video iPod that’s in the works.
Intel’s DRM scheme has been kept under wraps — to prevent giving clues to crackers — but the company has said it will allow content to be moved around a home network, and onto suitably-equipped portable devices.
And that’s why the whole Mac platform has to shift to Intel. Consumers will want to move content from one device to another — or one computer to another — and Intel’s DRM scheme will keep it all nicely locked down.”
We’ll find out if Kahney is right tomorrow afternoon…