Look at the facts and use your imagination.
Intel has a new architecture (IA-64) it wants to push but few of its traditional customers will use.
Intel's partner Microsoft first agreed to support IA-64 only to turn and refuse to build an XP version of IA-64. Even worse Microsoft builds an XP - 64 version based on an ISA extension of Intel's rival (AMD64). Which forces Intel to support its rivals ISA extension.
Intel attempts to make a business deal with Apple Computer. Traditionally an enemy of Microsoft and Intel.
The advantage of Apple Computer is its independence from the larger traditional computer industry. This independence frees Apple to do things differently from all of Intel's traditional supply base.
The irony of Intel working with Apple. Is the fact that Apple would not be a large source of revenue for Intel. In fact Apple will only produce a small fraction of the revenue Intel gains from its largest customer (Dell). Which leaves the question: why does Intel want Apple as a partner?
Apple is independent of the Windows world. Apple has the freedom to compile its OS to any ISA and microchip architecture it chooses. But Apple's business in of itself will not make Intel much more profit.
Intel wins Apple Computer as a customer. Which direction should the Apple/Intel partnership go?
Intel could build a better VLIW Itanium based chip. That has multiprocessor, simultaneous multithreading, low power consumption, scales from server, desktop, to laptop. Decodes x86 binaries faster, which allows the chip to run all major desktop operating systems and software.
Because Apple Computer is known as a company that likes to shine and exhibit new technology Intel could exclusively offer such a chip for Apple to showcase its new architecture.
The other option is Intel could offer Apple Computer the same line of microprocessors it offers all of its supply base. In effect continue the industry's lock on x86 architecture. This effort would further support the 64 bit ISA of Intel's rival AMD. The results would do nothing to support Intel's ambition to push its own IA-64.
Apple Computer receiving its new standard x86 processors has diminished its traditional independence from the standard PC world. Apple would lock itself into the commodity hardware market and parallel hardware patterns with every other equipment manufacturer. Something Apple has never done in its history.
What I'm saying is that little by little Intel will attempt to try different things but their bread and butter is X86.
This is true. To some degree it's Intel's fault. To a larger degree this is because of Microsoft.
I have a hard time believing that they are willing to produce special chips only for Apple that they would like to sell to the greater market.
Itanium nor VLIW would be a special "Apple chip". Of course the long term idea for Intel is bring the architecture to a larger market. If and this is a big IF Apple were to use Itanium its purpose would be to introduce the architecture as viable to the entire PC market.
You make it sound like Intel had to have something really different to get Apple away from IBM.
We certainly hope they did.
How long would it take for IBM to get a PPC to 3GHz and how long would it take them to get a mobile version on the market? PPC, did not pan out.
Every company has finite time and finite resources.
We do know that Apple is not IBM's primary focus. IBM wanted to own the gaming console market and placed its resources into winning it. Of course if IBM had devoted resources into producing a 3Ghz G5 and a low power G5 for the PowerBook, it could have well done it.
Unfortunately for Apple the three major gaming consoles will yield IBM far more return than a 3Ghz G5 or a PowerBook G5.
What you are suggesting is something that could, if it works, be something big years from now.
Tukwila (Itanium 3) is the code-name for a future generation of Intel's Itanium processor family following Itanium 2 and Montecito. It is expected to come to market in 2007. Wikipedia
This is a new chip Intel is working on with engineers from the company it bought in Russia, the old Itanium team from HP, also a group of engineers who designed RISC chips (the same as Power PC) are working on this chip.
No this does not in itself prove this design is for Apple, but Apple would need a new design to run Itanium.
VLIW may be incorporated if it proves to be of benefit to X86 customers, until the opportune moment, this is not that opportune moment.
You may be correct. Time will tell.
At this point Apple's options are open between x86 and VLIW. As it has not fully committed to either.
We have no idea what's going on in the background. It's possible Apple may give Intel time to get its new VLIW chips together.
If by 2006 Intel can't prove VLIW to be viable Apple can certainly go with x86.