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Apple books Freescale

Wins commitment to supply, not necessarily to buy

Apple has contracted chip maker Freescale to supply it with microprocessors through to the end of 2008.

Freescale - the spun-off Motorola chip division - already provides Apple with G4-class PowerPC chips for the Mac Mini, eMac, iBook and PowerBook lines.

Apple, of course, has already signalled its intention to migrate to x86 processors, but it's going to be shipping PowerPC-based systems through 2005 at the very least, and possibly well into 2006.

Some observers have suggested the deal with Freescale, revealed in a document Apple this week filed with with US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), suggests a longer transition time than previously expected, but it's telling that while Freescale is committed to providing Apple with processors, the Mac maker is not committed to ordering any. In short, it's about guaranteeing supply through an inevitably confusing transition period.

Apple currently uses Freescale's MPC7447A chip, but is expected to upgrade to the 7448, a 90nm version of the older part supporting higher bus and core clock frequencies - up to 1.7GHz, in point of fact - and providing double the L2 cache of the earlier chip: 1MB in total. ®

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