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Tue, 07 Jun 2005
MacIntel commentary

Here are some more thoughts on MacIntel after watching the keynote for myself (before was off the IRC's), (briefly) glancing through the universal binary guidelines, and reading some reactions. I promise to give this a break for a while.

Schiller has said that OS X is going to run on Apple hardware only. I believe that this means that Apple will do custom ASICs, etc for their x86 boxes. The Macintosh experience is the result of intimate integration of the hardware and software. That's how things like instant-on, etc work. Apple is going to need to do some work in this area, especially to preserve the instant on capability in x86 "Power"Books. These custom ASICS are going to make it harder to get OS X running on Windows oriented x86 hardware. This is all speculation on my part, of course. If Apple continues to make the source to Darwin x86 available, then that should give the hackers plenty of info to try to make/hack a version of OS X that would run on whitebox hardware.

My guess is that the first target for Intel hardware is portables, not the Mac mini, or iMac. That's the part of the product line that is hurting the worst, and the timeline for Yonah, early 2006 matches the timeframe for Apple to have shipping Intel based hardware. My 1.25GHz Powerbook can't initiate 4 way video iChat, or play Quicktime MPEG-4 without occasional hiccups, and I've never gotten battery life longer than 3 hours (and that's with the display turned all the way down, and all the radios (WiFi and Bluetooth) turned off.

All of the Intel processors that are likely go into Macs will support Intel's Vanderpool virtualization technology, which might prove interesting for running Windows/Linux/FreeBSD/Solaris 10 on/inside OS X.

I think that Intel based Mac will make it easier for me to persuade people to try a Mac. "Try the Mac software for 6 months. If you don't like it you can always pave it over with Windows". Apples to Windows, head to head on the same hardware. Apple has no reason to fear a fair fight on even ground.

Here are a few early developer reports:
Rogue Amoeba
Bob Ippolito on MacPython

[09:58] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 14 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post


cnet's sources say that the mini will be one of the first to use Intel chips... perhaps the Intel chips have a better price/performance ratio and Apple really wants to push the mini.

I agree that getting an Intel-based PowerBook out sooner than later will make a lot of folks happy, though!
Posted by Kevin Dangoor at Tue Jun 7 13:15:19 2005




cherry picked from the inq/sources
There maybe lots of good technology reasons for Apple to be looking at Intel.  The NoteBook market being one.  I think however that there are other serious business reasons for Apple to be looking at the X86 architecture.  An architecture they have summarily dismissed for near 25 years.  Until now.

IBM has made a chain of seemingly unrelated interesting moves that are just now taking on the shape of a grand strategy.  A strategy that is not so much world conquering as it is the long awaited moment of revenge.  And what sweet revenge it will be if IBM can pull this off.  Not that it has anything much to do with Apple or Sun.  They just become road kill as IBM races down the road to their long awaited moment of destiny.

A few events in particular have caused me to think that the great revenge is not so far fetched an idea as one might suspect.  The events are:

1) Support for GNU/Linux as a universal operating system, owned by none, used by all. 

2) The release of IBM WorkPlace, a highly portable desktop productivity environment that ships with accelerated connectivity to the IBM Eclipse based developer environment, and the IBM server stack of Websphere, Notes, and DB2.  While the European Union and the USA Justice Department worry about how to force Microsoft into opening up server, device and file format interfaces, IBM has eliminated the problem.  It's simple, just replace the monopolist desktop environment with one that is open, interoperable, and XML ready.  Not to mention that WorkPlace has been significantly enhanced (pre connected) to work with IBM's stack.

3) Shifting of IBM's entire PC division to third party, and future commodity champion, Lenovo.

4) The Power PC 6 chip, scheduled for release this coming November.

The PP6 is expected to have a ten fold computing power increase over anything the X86 line has in production.  And except for dual core manufacturing methods, there's not much on the X86 horizon that offers any hope of competing against the PP6. 

IBM has refused to license the PP6 to the largest and most successful distributor of the Power PC line, Apple.  Think about that.  If your Apple, and you see that IBM is setting themselves up to be an Intel like distributor of the PP6, yet they won't license the damn thing to the biggest provider of the entire PPC line?  Steve Jobs has to be wondering what's up with that.

Through IBM's incredible support of GNU/Linux and Open Source, the PP6 has an advantage that no other revolutionary chip design has ever had.  A universal operating system, and a vast application layer that incredibly spans desktop, server, devices and even the developer tools - all awaiting the release of the PP6.  Most new chip architectures face the challenge of growing a participatory ecosystem of hardware and software services and solutions.  The cost of going from zero to sixty with critically important collaborative ecosystems is way beyond the reach of most new cpu architectures.  Just ask Transmeta how difficult it is. And they had one of the greatest, most eco connected, systems programmers who ever lived trying to crack that nut.

Apple, Dell, Sun, and maybe even RedHat (think IBM sponsoring Novell's purchase of SuSE to the tune of $50M ) are sadly positioned to be collateral damage in this race to Armaggedon.  Maybe if Apple had been a better open source citizen they might have gotten their PP6 license.  But somewhere along the way someone at IBM figured out that the GNU/Linux

I look at these events, which are but a few of the efforts IBM has cooking (the Eclipse ecosystem is extraordinary), and i can't help but think that everything IBM is doing points in one direction.  They are heading for a showdown with WinTel.  It's for all the marbles.  And it's revenge as we've never imagined possible. 

~ge~
Posted by
shep husted at Tue Jun 7 23:37:42 2005



Every one is talking about Chips, Apple will use the same chips as PCís. What will Apple do to distinguish itís product from other Dell PCís using the same chips. What will prevent OS-X from being put on generic PCís?

The first question one should ask is, will the chip be the same as one available to Dell?

Thinking back to the days of the PowerPC, were the G3, G4 and G5 the same as other chips that IBM manufactured? Answer: No, they all had been created or modified from generic PowerX architecture. The G5, the last, was NOT a Power4 or a Power5 CPU like the ones IBM uses in itís servers.

Why would you think that the CPUís from Intel made for the Mactelís be any different, or rather the same as the CPUís available for Dell? They wonít be, trust me they will be made to order, and released on Appleís release schedule, not Intelís normal method. Do you believe that any discussion with Intel would not include Core designs, release scheduleís and confidentiality?

Intelís Pentium designs have been to keep up with Microsoft designs. The core, instruction sets and architecture have been compliant with Microsoftís Windows compatibility in mind. There is no such requirement for a chip designed for Apple. An Intel chip designed FOR Apple does not even have to be compatible with Microsoft. (note this is also the easiest way to prevent OS-X migration (hacks) into the PC world, implement special instruction set extensions, Altivec on Pentium anyone?)

Intel engineerís are probably dancing in cubicle space with the news that the new chips do not have to be backward compatible with windows. There is freedom in Intel land today. And now you will see innovation in chip design.

And now comes AMD, why not include AMD. The only reason I can think of is AMD is tied to Microsoft designs. And while they have pushed the architecture into 64 Bit instructions better than Intel, itís still a windows roadmap. AMD is a creative imitator, not a creative innovator.

Think Different
Posted by
Branedy at Thu Jun 9 06:57:25 2005





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