For all the x86-based Macs it sells, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) loves Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL). But it's Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) that may give the chipmaker its biggest gift this holiday season.

According to blog TheChromeSource, The Big G's vice president of product development, Sundar Pichal, told an audience at this week's Computex forum in Taiwan that Chrome OS would be released sometime during the fourth quarter.

Anyone else visualizing Intel CEO Paul Otellini applauding this news? I mean literally, standing up and applauding? During the company's first-quarter conference call, Otellini waxed bullish about the company's newest Atom processors because they're meant to be just as useful for tablet PCs as netbooks.

"I think at this point I view tablets much like I viewed netbooks two years ago," Otelli said during the call. "We have a lot of our customers announcing new tablet form factors around Morristown versions of Atom and in their support for a multitude of operating environments. You will see products on Android, on Windows 7, and on MiGO."

Now that Chrome OS could figure into the mix, and if Google meets the schedule Pichal is calling for, Atom sales could surge ahead of the launch of new Chrome-powered tablets. Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is reportedly planning one.

And if Google's iPad killer turns out to be more chihuahua than rottweiler? I'm not sure it'll matter. The very act of increasing the number and variety of tablet operating systems should increase Intel's Atom opportunity, and even more so for Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) and ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH), which together power Dell's (Nasdaq: DELL) interesting but probably too-small-to-hurt-Apple Streak tablet. Qualcomm chips based on ARM architecture also power Google's Nexus One smartphone.

Either way, Chrome OS is coming, and it's bringing a fatter market opportunity for tablet chipmakers right along with it.

Would you buy a Chrome OS tablet, are you all-in on the iPad? Tell us what you think in the comments box below.

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying Intel calls. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers  recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He had stock and options positions in Apple and a stock position in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool has created a covered strangle position on Intel and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is liking the view from this cloud.