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Apple Guards Chip Stash

Apple Computer's (AAPL - Get Report) move to Intel (INTC - Get Report) chips may take a bit longer than expected, if a deal announced by the computer company on Friday is any indication.

Apple has reached a new purchasing agreement with longtime supplier Freescale Semiconductor (FSL - Get Report), which produces the PowerPC G4 chip for the computer maker, according to a regulatory document filed Friday by Apple. Under terms of the new deal, Apple has the right to buy -- and Freescale has the obligation to supply -- PowerPC chips through the end of 2008.

That's a full year after the date when the company plans to move its entire line of Macintosh computers from PowerPC to Intel processors. Apple uses Freescale's G4 chips in its notebook computers and in its lower-end desktop models such as the Mac Mini.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment on why Apple signed the new purchase agreement with Freescale. But he said the company has not changed its plans to start delivering Intel-based Macs by "this time" next year or its schedule to complete the transition to Intel processors by the end of 2007.

Intel spokesman Chuck Malloy declined to comment on Freescale's deal with Apple or whether any problems have arisen in Intel's own relationship with Apple. But Malloy said there has been no change in Apple and Intel's plans to deliver an Intel-powered Macintosh by June of next year.

Freescale spokesman Glaston Ford declined to comment on his company's agreement with Apple, saying only that the company will "work with Apple through this transition."

The deal with Freescale doesn't necessarily imply that it is delaying the completion of its move to Intel processors. Under the agreement, Apple has no obligation to buy any chips from Freescale except those in orders the chipmaker is already processing.

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