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Apple switches to Intel

Rick Beaver
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Well what do you think?

My first reaction was "Oh no! - they are going to slow down" I have nothing to back that up - just the feeling that the Intel chip will not perform as well for Mac's as the PowerPC

My second reaction was that Apple just decided to field an overpriced PC and lose it's niche market. If they move to an X86 platform then surely the main reason that people buy Mac's, OS X, could run on any platform (again guesswork but it seems reasonable to me)

So is this the start of the end for Apple? Will they become just another PC maker? Are they thinking more about their iPod market than their loyal following of computer customers?
[ June 06, 2005: Message edited by: Bear Bibeault ]

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Bear Bibeault
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How about let's wait and see what (if anything) is actually announced before repeating all the rampant speculation that can be found in on practically any site having anything to do with Apple and Macs.
[ June 06, 2005: Message edited by: Bear Bibeault ]

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Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

It's official now: http://www4.macnn.com/macnn/wwdc/05/

They've already got them, have had them for a while. Many applications already "ported" (minimal work). They have a dynamic translator to run PPC code on x86 Macs.

Huh.


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Bear Bibeault
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Substantiated.

Don't really understand the reasoning, aside from being able to state higher MHz numbers (which to the general public translate to "higher performance", but we know better).

There must be a future roadmap that this enables that we aren't privy to.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

IANABSG (I am not a business school graduate), but...

Apple sells, more than anything else, style. Why not sell style to Windows people? Perhaps they see a time, a little way in the future, when Windows runs on Mac/x86's. You buy a cool looking Mac/x86, run Windows on it, then try Mac/OS, then switch...

Or perhaps they hope to get Wintel people to switch by buying a $139 software package instead of a $1000 box of hardware. You run MacOS on your Dell. Then you upgrade to Apple's superior hardware, maybe because they have hardware features other manufacturers don't include.

Hey: if you have an x86, you can run VirtualPC kinds of things at near-native speed! You can even run Wine on Mac/OS! Now you're talking: Mac/OS, plus all your Windows apps as fast (for real, for a change!) as on your Windows machine!

Or, more likely, some combination of these three.

Or someone needs to lay off the pipe.
[ June 06, 2005: Message edited by: Ernest Friedman-Hill ]
marc weber
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Originally posted by Bear Bibeault:
... There must be a future roadmap that this enables that we aren't privy to.

From Jobs' announcement today...
"When we look at future roadmaps, mid-2006 and beyond, we see PowerPC gives us 15 units of perfomance per watt, but Intel's roadmap gives us 70. And so this tells us what we have to do," he [Jobs] explained.

"Starting next year, we will introduce Macs with Intel processors," said Jobs. "This time next year, we plan to ship Macs with Intel processors. In two years, our plan is that the transition will be mostly complete, and will be complete by end of 2007."

... Mac OS X has been "leading a secret double life" for the past five years, said Jobs. "So today for the first time, I can confirm the rumors that every release of Mac OS X has been compiled for PowerPC and Intel. This has been going on for the last five years."

Jobs demonstrated a version of Mac OS X running on a 3.6GHz Pentium 4-processor equipped system, running a build of Mac OS X v10.4.1...

Source: http://www.macworld.com/news/2005/06/06/liveupdate/index.php?lsrc=mwrss


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marc weber
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By the way...

Jobs also mentioned that the next major OS for Mac will be called Leopard. Per the same source quoted above, Jobs said, "we intend to release Leopard at the end of 2006 or early 2007, right about the time Microsoft expects to release Longhorn."
Bear Bibeault
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  66

Interesting. When someone starts talking "performance per watt" one can only be thinking of laptops. And, interestingly enough, there was an article in the local paper today about how laptops sales are now exceeding desktop sales.

Perhaps laptop futures are now the driving force behind it all.

And fascinating to find out that Marklar was real all along (this I actually did suspect correctly).
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

Ok, so my question is this...Speed/performance aside, is there any advantage to OSX on PowerPC over x86? And is this going to kill the PowerPC market? Are we eventually going to see them go away?


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Bear Bibeault
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And is this going to kill the PowerPC market? Are we eventually going to see them go away?


As far as the Apple market is concerned. Jobs stated that Macs would be all-Intel by the end of 2007.
Rick Beaver
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Originally posted by Gregg Bolinger:
Ok, so my question is this...Speed/performance aside, is there any advantage to OSX on PowerPC over x86? And is this going to kill the PowerPC market? Are we eventually going to see them go away?


I believe IBM's PowerPC chips are going to be in all three of the next generation games consoles, PS3, Xbox 2 and the Nintendo thingy so the PowerPC market should fly for a long time.

Looking at raw numbers, the IBM / Apple relationship is probably financially insignificant to IBM - it is just the loss of such a high profile contract that will hurt.
Rick Beaver
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Here is the official announcement

http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2005/jun/06intel.html
Rick Beaver
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Just reading that article what I found funny was how thrilled the Software company spokepersons are (Adobe, Microsoft).

I can't imagine the CEO of Adobe telling his development director that he now needs to develop and support the product on a further platform and him turning round and saying "thats great boss - extra work - can't wait"
Rick Beaver
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Looks like the performance will probably be affected by the move to Intel.

The G5 is almost 100% faster than a 3.6Ghz Intel machine

I get the feeling Apple have shot themselves in the foot - especially when one looks at Apple's performance statistics

What a shame.
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

Originally posted by Rick Beaver:
The G5 is almost 100% faster than a 3.6Ghz Intel machine


Well no crap. Isn't a G5 a dual 64 bit processor machine? I'm not saying P's are just as good as G's but at least compare equal hardware. Even a single processor G5 is still 64 bit where a P43.5 is 32 bit.

Sidebar: Not taking up for wIntel, just keeping things fair.
Rick Beaver
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Originally posted by Gregg Bolinger:


Well no crap. Isn't a G5 a dual 64 bit processor machine? I'm not saying P's are just as good as G's but at least compare equal hardware. Even a single processor G5 is still 64 bit where a P43.5 is 32 bit.

Sidebar: Not taking up for wIntel, just keeping things fair.


The 64 bit stuff is a fair point but it is still surprising to me that two 1.35Ghz G5 processors are 100% faster than a P4 3.6 Ghz chip - doesnt that seem a lot to you?
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

Originally posted by Rick Beaver:


The 64 bit stuff is a fair point but it is still surprising to me that two 1.35Ghz G5 processors are 100% faster than a P4 3.6 Ghz chip - doesnt that seem a lot to you?


Not really that surprising. Your're still talking about 64bit compared to 32bit. Not to mention the GHz myth.

Did you know that an overclocked P3 will run faster than a P4? And cooler? Did you know that the P4 Mobile Processor put in laptops is really a P3?

And now we have duel core chips coming out. Know why? Someone's light bulb finally came on and said "you know, 2 chips are usually better than 1" and the 2 chips in the duel core are lower MHz than a single P4.
Rick Beaver
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Originally posted by Gregg Bolinger:


Not really that surprising. Your're still talking about 64bit compared to 32bit. Not to mention the GHz myth.

Did you know that an overclocked P3 will run faster than a P4? And cooler? Did you know that the P4 Mobile Processor put in laptops is really a P3?

And now we have duel core chips coming out. Know why? Someone's light bulb finally came on and said "you know, 2 chips are usually better than 1" and the 2 chips in the duel core are lower MHz than a single P4.



I didn't know any of this...
Steven Bell
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Originally posted by Rick Beaver:
Looks like the performance will probably be affected by the move to Intel.

The G5 is almost 100% faster than a 3.6Ghz Intel machine

I get the feeling Apple have shot themselves in the foot - especially when one looks at Apple's performance statistics

What a shame.


Just to add this isn't a comprehensive benchmark, only a single test.
Rick Beaver
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Originally posted by Steven Bell:


Just to add this isn't a comprehensive benchmark, only a single test.


True enough - but my point was that the source is Apple so to me it seems ironic that they have a page which says "Look how much better than Intel our G5 chip is" then drop the G5 for an Intel chip...
Gregg Bolinger
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Originally posted by Rick Beaver:


True enough - but my point was that the source is Apple so to me it seems ironic that they have a page which says "Look how much better than Intel our G5 chip is" then drop the G5 for an Intel chip...


That's the real mystery. Isn't it.

[hums tune: I want money, lots and lots of money....]
Bear Bibeault
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  66

"Look how much better than Intel our G5 chip is" then drop the G5 for an Intel chip...


I haven't seen anything, from Apple or otherwise, that stated that the switch was to increase performance.

Apparently (at least from outwardly available evidence) it's all about yield and power usage.
Steven Bell
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I read something earlier (can't find the link) that suggest part of the reason was future performance based on the Power PC chip roadmap vs x86 roadmap. The two main chip suppliers IBM and Freescale have goals that are not very compatible with a high performance desktop processor. They are looking at multifunction small device use. As Apple makes up about 2% of IBM's business and about 3% of Freescales business they don't have a huge incentive to make Apple their primary focus.
Rick Beaver
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Originally posted by Bear Bibeault:


I haven't seen anything, from Apple or otherwise, that stated that the switch was to increase performance.

Apparently (at least from outwardly available evidence) it's all about yield and power usage.


Absolutely, neither have I, but you could assume that they would not want their future machines to have a reduced performance. Based on their own benchmarks it would appear that the current mainstream high-end processors are inferior to the G5 which would mean that either the original benchmarks where "overprocessed" by Apple marketing or Intel have something quite special up their sleeve which Apple know about.
Gregg Bolinger
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Originally posted by Rick Beaver:


Absolutely, neither have I, but you could assume that they would not want their future machines to have a reduced performance. Based on their own benchmarks it would appear that the current mainstream high-end processors are inferior to the G5 which would mean that either the original benchmarks where "overprocessed" by Apple marketing or Intel have something quite special up their sleeve which Apple know about.


I have a feeling the duel core chips will come into play.
Steven Bell
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Originally posted by Gregg Bolinger:


I have a feeling the duel core chips will come into play.


Good point. You would think that with Apple running on dual chips for so long that much of the software that can take advantage of dual procs has been written to do so.

Most PC software hasn't been written for dual proc as the install base was so small.
Rick Beaver
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Just read on the BBC that Apple are moving to X86 - I may be wrong - I usually am - but I thought X86 was 32bit?

If this is the case I would guess they are going to be replacing the 32 bit G4's first, i.e. Their laptop range.
Steven Bell
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Both Intel and AMD have released 64bit X86 processors.

I have an AMD one in my computer at home.
marc weber
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I'm reminded of the New Coke debacle of 1985, when Coca-Cola abruptly replaced their flagship brand with a more Pepsi-like formula.

Excerpt from "New Coke - A Lesson in Brand Loyalty"...

"Although taste tests of the New Coke had shown that majority of those tested preferred the new product, these tests could not gauge the emotional appeal of the 'old' Coke..."

Ref: http://www.vault.com/nr/newsmain.jsp?nr_page=3&ch_id=265&article_id=18828&cat_id=1021

Also see http://members.lycos.co.uk/thomassheils/newcoke.htm

I don't know whether Intel is a good move or a bad move for Apple. But I believe it would be a serious mistake to underestimate brand loyalty among Mac users, many of whom are "uneasy" about this news. So whatever Apple has in mind for 2006-2007, I think they could be doing a better job of reassuring current and prospective customers.
[ June 07, 2005: Message edited by: marc weber ]
marc weber
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A practical question in the wake of this development: Is there any reason I shouldn't go ahead and buy a new iMac G5 now?
Rick Beaver
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Originally posted by marc weber:
A practical question in the wake of this development: Is there any reason I shouldn't go ahead and buy a new iMac G5 now?


Speculation is that sales will drop off following this announcement. It is likely that the price of G5 machines will come down as they try to maintain hardware sales as a lot of people will not want to commit to a Apple when a new version is coming out soon.

The question is when this will happen. The announcement says a phased transition will take place starting next year so it is anyone's guess when the G5 desktops will be replaced.

I am guessing the best deals will be found in Apple stores - when their sales decline they will start the deals up to shift the kit.

The big question for someone considering buying a G5 machine now would be software support in the future. If your favourite software packages are ported to the new platform when the transition takes place and support drops off for the PowerPC platform then that may cause some grief. Also, new software coming out for the Mac in the future may only be written for the new platform which means a lot of upset PowerPC users.

I recently bought a Powerbook and I will be very dissapointed if it is obsolete in 18 months but then again, a computer is out of date as soon as you buy it so what can you do?

Personally - I am planning on buying a G5 20" IMac as soon as I can afford it - if between now and then we get some timescales for the transition I may wait but all the time the changeover if unknown I am going to go ahead as planned.
marc weber
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Originally posted by Rick Beaver:
...I recently bought a Powerbook and I will be very dissapointed if it is obsolete in 18 months but then again, a computer is out of date as soon as you buy it so what can you do?

Personally - I am planning on buying a G5 20" IMac as soon as I can afford it...

That's the exact situation I'm in. I just bought a PowerBook when Tiger was released, and I'm planning on an iMac within the next few weeks. I'm also anticipating a price drop, as I expect that yesterday's news will cause a lot of people to adopt a "wait and see" stance.

When the Intel Macs do hit the shelves, I don't expect to be among the first to buy anyway. So if I get an iMac now, then when I'm ready to replace it in 4 years or so, the Intel Macs should be through the worst of their introductory glitches. In the meantime, I don't see anything that diminishes the G5 for my needs (aside from the perennial question of new versions of Java being supported), and I certainly don't see a better machine out there for the money (even if today's prices stand).
Ulf Dittmer
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  63
A frequent assumptions is that OS X will run on any old PC. If that were the case, Apple would surely be doomed as a hardware company. But it will not, it will only run on Apple-manufactured hardware. One of the big benefits of using Macs is the tight hardware/software integration, which is only really possible if they're from the same vendor, and the supported hardware is very limited in range.
Some enterprising hacker will likely get a Dell or what have you to run OS X (Phil Schiller even mentioned that Apple would not actively discourage that). Whether it will work well is an entirely different subject, and it will in no way be supported by Apple.

Ulf
[ June 13, 2005: Message edited by: Ulf Dittmer ]

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Bear Bibeault
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Some enterprising hacker will likely get a Dell or what have you to run OS X (Phil Schiller even mentioned that Apple would not actively discourage that).


Actually what Phil Shiller said is that they would not actively discourage booting Windows on the Intel Apple boxes. Apple will most assuredly "actively discourage" running OS X on anything other than Apple hardware.
[ June 13, 2005: Message edited by: Bear Bibeault ]
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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A story on SlashDot indicated that a developer copy of the i86 OS has been leaked and it does, indeed, run on a generic grey box.
Bear Bibeault
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I'm not sure how Apple is going to handle that. I'd assume that there'd be something on the production versions to try and prevent executing on non-Apple hardware. But that's hardly my area of expertise.

I'm actually not that surprised that the devo version they gave out at WWDC is easily hackable to run on generic hardware. The devo boxes they're giving out probably aren't even close, architecturally, to what the production boxes will be, and they probably just hobbled it all together to give the devos a head start on app porting.

Regardless, it's going to be an interesting time...
Warren Dew
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marc weber:

A practical question in the wake of this development: Is there any reason I shouldn't go ahead and buy a new iMac G5 now?

I don't know what your situation is, but I've been a Mac user since 1991, and here's my current plan for desktops:

(1) Stick with the dual G5 box I currently have until 1997

(2) Switch to Apple's very last G5 model

(3) My machine after that will be a generic box running Windows, Linux, or BSD Unix, not a Mac. Windows isn't that far behind Mac OS X in terms of usability any more, and the primary reason I currently use Macs is because of the 64 bit processor (yes, it's oranges to kumquats, but Intel doesn't have oranges yet), and the multiprocessor support (and IBM is already making dual core G5s that they use in their server boxes). I stuck with Apple in their 68000 to PowerPC transition, and while that was painful, it was worth it because the PowerPC was so much better a chip. In the current case, though, they're switching to a chip that is no better, and arguably worse; it's not worth the pain.

The business part of the decision is clearly laptop driven, because neither Freescale nor IBM is interested in making low power, high performance G5s on speculation, without a commitment from Apple to use them. Intel is interested in that market, though it's not clear that they will be able to do much - Intel processors to date are either power hogs or don't have much performance, and they've missed some major roadmap targets recently (e.g., 4 GHz). However, I suspect that emotional issues on the part of Jobs - in particular, dislike of IBM - are also driving things, and the loss of Apple's "adult supervision" in the form of CFO Fred Andersen's retirement is also hurting things.

As you may be able to tell, I don't like this news much. In my opinion, the Pentium/Xeon architecture is currently in third place behind IBM/Power and AMD. If they were going with AMD's 64 bit architecture, I might feel differently.
[ June 27, 2005: Message edited by: Warren Dew ]
Bear Bibeault
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Here's my own take on the 'should I buy now' question.

The prevaling sentiment I hear seems to be along the lines of "If I buy now, my machine will be obsolete in a year".

I think that's utter hogwash. A machine's obsolence is measured on its ability to perform the job at hand. The release of the new Intel-based Macs will have no effect or bearing on whether a machine currently on your desktop is able to still performt he jobs you want it to do.

To me, it's not about the hardware, it's all about the software.

To anyone, like myself, with a fairly heavy investment in current (PPC-compiled) software, the worry shouldn't be about whether a machine you currently (or are about to) own is obsoleted simply because newer machines are available, it's whether the software you spent a lot of cash on is going to be obsoleted by the newer systems.

Yes, I know Rosetta is supposed to take care of a lot of that, but it's become clear that Rosetta has limitations that could hamper or prevent operation of a lot of the software that I rely upon -- particularly in the area of image processing and video editing.

So I'm much less worried about whether PPC boxes will magically become obsolete once Intel boxes ship than I'm worried about if the software I currently own will run on the new boxes efficiently, or at all.

Therefore, my current plan is to buy a PPC G5 machine at the last possible minute. That way, my investment in PPC-compiled software will be protected for the longest period.

Oh, and new software coming out -- I'm not too worried about that either. It will take a long time for the Intel boxes to significantly make inroads into the installed base of PPC boxes. Any developer who doesn't invest the 30 milliseconds it takes to click the checky-box that compiles a universal binary will be making a large mistake indeed. So I don't see Intel-only software appearing for a long long time.
Bear Bibeault
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  66

Not to turn this into a Windows vs. Mac thread, but

Windows isn't that far behind Mac OS X in terms of usability any more,


I don't see it. I use XP and OS X about 50/50, and I just can't agree. Your mileage may vary of course.

But tossing usability aside, where XP lags the most is security. Outside of work, the only time I'm in front of an XP box is when I'm doing the "tech support" thing for the neighbors and friends, getting the latest virus, adware, spyware, or whatever off their boxes. Or fixing their Registry after some intaller boofed it up. Or fighting DLL hell.

One of the things I like most about OS X is that when I'm sitting in front of my Mac, I'm doing the fun things that I want to be doing, as opposed to the things I have to be doing just to keep the system running.

For me, that's the slam dunk. The usability issue is just icing.
[ June 27, 2005: Message edited by: Bear Bibeault ]
marc weber
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Warren: I don't like the news much either, but I'm not savvy enough with hardware for this to be more than just an impression. It seems that AMD would have been a more logical choice, but I just don't know. I think that my negative impression of Intel is due to their unfortunate association with Windows, so I'm trying to remain optimistic.

Bear: I agree on all points. I've pretty much decided to go ahead and get the iMac. I was considering waiting until the "last possible minute" for a new G5; but now that I have a PowerBook, my tolerance for my XP desktop is rapidly diminishing and I don't think I can wait that long. (Uh... Not to turn this into a Windows vs. Mac thread.)
 
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