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Intel Inside
Intel Inside

So if you haven’t heard, yesterday 6/6/05 Apple announced they are moving from the PowerPC CPU to Intel based processors. If I hadn’t heard it from the horses mouth (Steve Jobs) and if he didn’t do it at WWDC (their annual World Wide Developers Conference) I wouldn’t have believed it. Its been rumored for more than 10 years, but this time its real.

My good friend Damien wrote an interesting piece you can read here…
Live from WWDC: Apple switches to Intel. What does it all mean? (By Damien Stolarz)

My understanding is that in the short term, nothing is really changing. In the long term there are many industry ramifications, but to the consumer, it really doesn’t matter. It means some faster Mac laptops and a different logo on your CPU.

For the consumer:
1. You will still need to own a Mac to run OS X (according to Damien Stolarz quoting Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller) . Yes, I’m sure there will be interesting hacks to make them work on non-apple machines, but that won’t be supported.
2. Initial non-fat(compiled for both CPU’s) binaries (applications) will run slowly on Intel based macs using “Rosetta” apple’s emulation layer.
3. Interestingly, also according to Damien Stolarz “Schiller said Apple wouldn’t do anything to preclude people running Windows on Intel-based Macs.” Meaning windows fans of the Apple laptops/desktops can run windows.
4. Apple will ship Intel based macs Jun 2006.
5. They will continue to update and create better/faster PPC based machines until at least 2007.

Long run questions:
1. Will it mean cheaper Macs? Unclear, but it will at least allow it to happen if Apple chooses to.
2. Will it mean lower quality support from apple? Unclear, but bigger markets are harder and more expensive to support.
3. Will they still innovate? Absolutely, in fact partnering with Intel is probably the best way Apple can drive the industry to support new technologies. Bluetooth, 802.11, 1394 Firewire, USB…apple didn’t invent all of them, but they certainly drove the industry to use them.
4. Will it mean worse Stability? Probably not, they’ve been compiling OS X (every version) and all of the Apple Apps (iTunes/iPhoto/iMovie/etc…) for both Intel and PPC for the past 5 years secretly.
5. Will it mean worse Security? Unknown, A Windows virus might run fine inside an emulated environment. Could it get out?
6. What will it mean for 64-bit computing? Good question, since they are going to keep making PPC’s until at least the end of 2007, Intel could easily come out with a 64-bit chip by then, and really we don’t know what the first chip will be. The development box is a 3.6Ghz P4 for what its worth…

Stay tuned…

3 responses to “Apple and Intel hook up.”

  1. limit says:

    Interesting stuff. I wwonder why they did not go with AMD?

  2. Jacob says:

    I would think it was two parts 1. marketing and 2. supply

    Intel has two things AMD doesn’t. One, reputation and ability to spend LARGE dollars on marketing their chips. Apple can really hype the #1 chip maker working with the #1 computer manufacture. Two, supply, Intel has way more production capacity than AMD. They have the ability to produce way more chips at lower cost than AMD can. AMD has 2 fabrication plants, Intel has more than a dozen, for this reason alone it makes sense to go with Intel over AMD. If in a few years AMD build more production, maybe they can lure Apple away, but at that point it won’t matter as they make compatible chips.

  3. limit says:

    I think that you are right on in your train of thought. Here is another article link and a quote from said article.

    “The key here is to understand that the Intel switch wasn’t primarily about a POWER failure on IBM’s part, but about the fact that Intel gives great volume discounts for customers like Dell who go all-Intel all the time. And when I say “all-Intel all the time,” I don’t just mean x86 CPUs. Intel also makes the Xscale line of embedded CPUs, which implements the same ARM architecture that powers the iPod. Furthermore, Xscale can be used in a whole range of Apple-branded products, starting with the iPod on the low end and going all the way up to an Apple-branded handheld, or just about any kind other kind of gadget that Apple can dream up. “Mac vs. PC” is the past, and Apple isn’t going to try to maintain that dynamic. The future is in Apple-branded products and services that are tethered in some way to OS X.”

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20050614-4991.html

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