Apple could subvert the current hierarchies in terms of processors, placing IBM at the top of the range while future generations of Motorola could emerge on entry level models.
Indications in this sense can be deduced from the future plans of Big Blue and the fin company that leave a door open in this direction.
The last clues are from a few days ago. In fact, an article appeared in Inforworld in which explicit reference is made to IBM's intention to place Power 5, the successor of the current Power 4 processor destined for the server market, at lower levels to attract a greater number of potential clients. Power 5 would have a lower consumption, more refinements in terms of heat production, bringing it closer to the PowerPC 970 which should make its debut by next autumn.
The same IBM roadmap, revealed by some articles that appeared in recent days, explicitly refers to a processor subsequent to the PowerPC 970 and which could be the Power5.
In this perspective, one could imagine a scenario in which by the summer Apple will adopt the new MPC 7457 on its high-end machines, probably followed between late 2003 and early 2004 by the MPC 970, codenamed Mohave
It will be at that juncture that the Pro range could begin the transition to the new processor architecture designed by IBM. Subsequently Big Blue will release new chips based on this architecture which will progressively bring the speed of the PPC up to 2.5 GHz, finally giving way to Power5 or their derivatives.
In the meantime, Motorola's processors will occupy the lowest niche of the Apple market, taking the place of the G3 today.
(Thanks for the reports to Piero Menn)