“If you listen to Intel, the last hold-outs against the x86 instruction set are about to fall — with super-powered Nehalem swarms mopping up the high end of massed Power PC supercomputers, and sneaky little Atoms nibbling away at the ARM embedded market,” Rupert Goodwins reports for ZDNet UK.

“Apple doesn’t listen to Intel much. While everyone’s been assuming that an Atom-powered iPhone was a done deal, and getting used to the idea that MacBooks are just Intel laptops with a different OS, Steve Jobs nipped out the back and bought PA Semi. Which is a small CPU company, led by the bloke who was lead designer on the Alpha and StrongARM chips, and which now makes low-power (like ARM) PowerPC-compatible chips that have comparable performance to Intel’s desktop chips,” Goodwins reports.

“Apple can now make its own processors,” Goodwins reports.

“What happens next? Apple now has a very good CPU design team, together with a license for a very capable architecture. The company thrives on differentiation, something that’s been getting harder and harder to do with Intel. I know everyone’s fixated on that darn iPhone, but for this year at least, PA Semi is a much better fit for other parts of the Apple world, and now Apple can break free of the Intel roadmap that its competitors are marching on,” Goodwins reports.

Full article here.