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June 3, 2005 06:23 PM PST

Apple going Intel!
Xbox going PowerPC!
Cats sleeping with Dogs!


Comments (31)
J, June 3, 2005 06:39 PM:

First post!

Paul, June 4, 2005 12:32 PM:

Some scenarios:

1. Apple uses x86 on closed hardware
They use Intel x86 chips, but a closed chipset that prevents OS X from running on regular PCs. If Apple did this, they would have to provide some kind of emulation or Just-In-Time compilation that would allow x86 Macs to run PowerPC binaries at full speed. They have to provide a "1 button x86 compile option" to all developers (look how long it took Adobe to port to OS X). Customers wouldn't have to worrry about compatability... if they do, it's game over for Apple.

2. Apple licenses PowerPC to Intel
Intel becomes another PowerPC maker, like Motorola and IBM and nothing changes (except maybe a little "Intel Inside" sticker on your Mac keyboard).

3. Apple uses x86 on open hardware
Apple moves to x86, licenses OS X to Dell and HP for desktops only, Apple still makes sweet laptops. Dell and HP gain leverage against Microsoft for the cost of Windows licenses. Dell and HP agree to drop Windows Media and other MP3 players and become iTunes / iPod resellers. Apple moves more into the software and services space. While profits on G5 PowerMacs are nice, it is not clear that their market share is increasing and it would be better to let existing x86 box makers do the heavy lifting there in order to increase the demand for Apple software and consumer electronics components (iPod). Apple and Pixar unveil the iFlicks Movie Store only for Mac OS X (PPC and x86) and QuickTime software. Other movie studios jump in when they see that the DRM capabilities of the x86 and OS X work well.

J, June 5, 2005 01:10 PM:

If they do move to a new processor, I wonder how they're going to handle sales on the existing one. I was considering a mini, but would totally wait for an Intel based machine. No reason to buy an architecture you know is going to be totally outdated.

We know that the core Darwin OS runs on x86, and that's the most likely part to have hand coded assembly. The drivers would be the other big issue with architectures, but apple controls so much of that for their hardware, and there are not that many peripherals. If anything, some type of windows driver model could actually increase the number of hardware add-ons that work on the Mac.

It would be kind of cool if Apple opened the hardware, but only officially supported certain machines to solve the hardware/driver nightmare. So you could get your "Dell Mac compatible PC". It's possible you could also build one on your own, cobbled together from open source drivers, but it wouldn't be supported or something. With low Dell type pricing, a vast majority of people out there wouldn't bother going with legal, but unsupported "Mac PCs". Of course, guessing about a partnership with Dell is an order of magnitude away from them just changing cpus.

Your #1 is the most likely, though; with apple using cheap intel hardware and chipsets (perhaps even a complete integrated nForce or ATI chipset), they could bring hardware prices way down. They could also do even crazier things that Microsoft and Dell because they own both halves of the equation.

Don't forget that it's Apple - and things will never be cheap. They may be more competitive, but they will never portray themselves as the cheap solution.

Another interesting thing about this is that it could be a big blow to Linux, especially on the on the desktop.

John, June 5, 2005 07:50 PM:

Well I guess we'll find out soon enough. As for #1, they've switch platforms and forced their users to buy all new software twice before... so I guess it could happen again. #2 Hmm, could be. Some of what I've been reading states that they have a 'motorola' clause in their contract with IBM. And IBM clearly has not met it's side of the deal. #3, not very likely. Plus I think the laptops are really part of the issue here. IBM can't get the speed up and the power consumption down, so Apple laptops are falling behind in the performance department.

George, June 6, 2005 09:16 AM:

Regarding "forcing" user to buy all new software if the architecture is changed, don't forget that Apple is the provider of some of the cooler apps people are using (i*, garage band, safari, etc) so the pain for the users in $ terms may not be significant.

Also, I've been through two switches (68000 to ppc & OS 9 to OS x), and I don't remember having to repurchase a bunch of software. Granted I bought my 68040 machine about the time the powermacs were announced so many apps I bought provided fat binaries that worked on both platforms. The 0S 9 to OS X switch was almost a non-event since Apple provide "classic" mode compatibility through at least the 10.1 release.

Wheelson, June 6, 2005 10:54 AM:

Paul is either channeling a Wired reporter or the wired reporter is reading Nullstream.

Hollywood Orders: Apple Wed Intel

John, June 6, 2005 10:57 AM:

Hmm, 'force' was a strong word. In both transitions Apple provided emulation. In the 68000 to PPC case, my Mac friends ran out and bought new software right away because the emulation was so slow they couldn't stand it. They happly plunked down their $$ though as I recall. I can't speak to the 'classic' mode speed / compatibility with OSX though, but I suspect there is also a performance hit.

Another thing I suspect but can't confirm, is that since the total Apple software market is very small, most people probably don't have that many apps on their Macs to begin with. And as you mentioned if most of these are provided by Apple, then they will get upgraded all at once. I find this a lot different than the Windows world where people have piles of Apps on their machines ranging from open source, shareware / freeware, MS Apps, 3rd party, games, and of course pirated stuff. (This packrat nature may also help to divide PC from Mac users). In this world a platform shift becomes much more expensive and unlikely to be tolerated. In fact I still know a few folks who have not moved up from Windows 9x because of some old obscure app or tool they have become attached to that doesn't run on XP.

John, June 6, 2005 11:17 AM:

Ok it's official:
MacNN Coverage

Paul, June 6, 2005 11:30 AM:

A really interesting quote from Apple's Hardware VP:

After Jobs' presentation, Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller addressed the issue of running Windows on Macs, saying there are no plans to sell or support Windows on an Intel-based Mac. "That doesn't preclude someone from running it on a Mac. They probably will," he said. "We won't do anything to preclude that."

However, Schiller said the company does not plan to let people run Mac OS X on other computer makers' hardware. "We will not allow running Mac OS X on anything other than an Apple Mac."

So, if I buy an Intel Mac, I can also run Windows?!? Now that would be sweet!


John, June 6, 2005 11:36 AM:

Yeah It would be cool to dual boot to Windows.
Also once mac is running nativly on x86 it will be much easier for someone to 'hack' a way for it to run on standard PCs. Apple will probably have to staff up a bit in the legal department before they roll this out.

John, June 6, 2005 12:00 PM:

But what about the funnel?

J, June 6, 2005 12:04 PM:

They didn't mention anything like how they had a special BIOS that they licensed to the cloners back in the day, and that's how they determined who was allowed to make Macs. I suppose they could still do that with their new Macs, but Windows wouldn't care, so they'd control their Mac hardware, but you could boot into windows on it if you wanted. This is actually interesting because apple could prevent clones AND be the only vendor selling a Mac/Win compatible box. That'll probably get them a couple hundred dollar price premium they want.

I still wonder who's going to be buying a mac now over the next year...

I guess the biggest drawback of this is that it won't run on AMD/AMD64 based machines. This announcement is very far from Apple going after the PC market. I doubt prices will drop much, and performance will only hopefully match that of Windows (finally). The main twist with this announcement is that they won't prevent Windows from running on it. It would be funny if Microsoft did!

John, June 6, 2005 01:14 PM:

Well depending on who makes the 'Mac only' chip, they could theoretically switch over to AMD if Intel ever started jerking them around. The AMD dual core solution is more elegant and would be nice on the front end.

Yeah it would be fun if Windows ran on those boxes. Here is a scenario for you, boot into Windows XP (apple edition) on your AppleTel powerBook and then run OS X under Virtual PC.

Paul, June 6, 2005 01:53 PM:

Good thing I never bothered to learn any PPC assembly. Even with just in time translators and fat binaries, J is right: who is going to buy a PPC Mac now, or make a major PPC software purchase? I was thinking of getting Logic Audio Pro ($999), but not now!

J, June 6, 2005 02:53 PM:

I suppose most of the end user type people will still buy it. It's not like the average person differentiates between Celeron or P4, or Athlon, Athlon64 or Duron. So I guess they'll do OK.

I'm kind of set now on my PC. I have a feeling that I'll still opt for a fast PC over a MacPC from Apple on the desktop. Dual boot Apple laptops would be really cool. I'd actually be interested in the hardware just to run Windows.

What I really want to see is an open platform for a Media Front End. Like TiVo or Xbox360, but open. This is the only way we're going to avoid being locked in to Codecs, DRM, or one online media store.

John, June 6, 2005 03:12 PM:

I guess we'll have to wait and see what the market is like for Mac's over the next couple of years. Standard PC logic does not apply in that world, so it is hard for me to guess. Just a hint of a new platform messes with PC market dynamics.

For Apple guys I guess it depends on how long you plan on owning your new mac hardware. And if you really worry about the life of your software beyond that of your hardware. As long as most Apple apps are supported on both platforms for the immediate future, then there really shouldn't be any problems. Plus by sticking with PPC in the short term you get to avoid having to run your 'older' apps in compat mode while you wait for new intel releases. Two years down the road, buy a new Mac and a new round of apps to go with it and you're set. Now once new apps start coming out that don't support the older PPC systems, then it will get interesting.

As for hardware, I'm not so sure I'd pay the premium for an Apple laptop to run Windows, but hey a new Intel Mac Mini might make a nice Windows based HTPC.

Paul, June 6, 2005 03:16 PM:

"...but a new Intel Mac Mini might make a nice Windows based HTPC..."

I don't even know what we're talking about anymore.

J, June 6, 2005 03:41 PM:

LOL. That is pretty ridiculous. No more "wintel" talk.

I'm not sure that Apple laptops do cost more than equivalent PCs. Dell laptops are cheap, but the IBM's and Sony's that match the form factor of Apple are just as costly. And with laptops selling more than desktops this year (and you anti=PC gamers)... Could be an interesting move for Apple.

As for HTPC, I'm kind of off that now. I just want a media front end. It doesn't even really need an OS - it could just use VNC/Remote Desktop/Apple Remote Desktop to display a slimmed down Dashboard type UI. It would contain mediaplayer or quicktime and have upgradable codecs to play all the media stuff you need. That's about it. No HDD or anything. Your PC with all its PCI cards could have the tuner and stuff built in. This would seem the easiest to maintain and upgrade. And anyone could write new codecs or new widgets for display on the TV machine.

I suppose Xbox360 users will have a closed version of most of this. Apple is still a ways off (even though they could have done this years ago). I guess MythTV on Linux is the closest thing, but that's not going to be practical unless a company takes it over and actually gets it working easily for end users. TiVo actually has some type of software development interface to write new plugins for your TiVo to run (weather, etc). I haven't seen any of these available for download through the TiVo UI however. I think this had to do with the massively kneejerk overhyped Strangeberry company.

Sniffy, June 6, 2005 05:44 PM:

Finally, with PPC Macs going the way of the Dodo, they become attractive to me. Don't worry you lost and forgotten computers, Sniffy will take care of you.

J, June 8, 2005 02:03 AM:

ThinkSecret article on initial emulation performance. As usual, emulating PPC on Intel produces mixed results - the characteristics of RISC and AltiVec (it's like this funnel see...) will make most synthetic benchmarks look strange. Seems like they could map AltiVec with SSE2 but I guess the emulator isn't there yet.

If anything, these performance numbers are great for Apple initially becuase they show that it's way better to purchase an existing PPC machine than it will be to go with Intel until the software is there. Come to think of it... this means it'll be longer till I'm looking at Apple. I don't want to buy into an older architecture, and then I'll have to wait for critical software mass on Intel. And then for the rev B of any hardware that does come out... Ouchie.

I did hear that a dual core G5 was in the works - it almost seems like something like that would be a better bet for Apple to go. OS X is (mostly) a 64 bit OS, and does a lot of multi-threading, so you'd think that they could keep up with PC performance by moving 64 bit dual core into even the lower end machines (providing they could cool it as well as AMD does).

I suppose the huge problem with this is with their laptops. Dual core doesn't make a lot of sense there at this point, and even single core G5 is too much heat.

Intel and AMD definitely provide a larger operating base for the vertical range of computers Apple wants to make (from the mini to the xserve). I'm really surprised that AMD couldn't offer them a better deal than Intel (and pacify the anti-Intel fanboys out there). The answer again must lie in the mobile chipsets (which are still heavily Intel). AMD is great at power handling on their desktop machines, and they have their Alchemy and Geode line of embedded processors to rival Xscale. It would be cool if Apple did an HP type of move where you could get AMD based motherboards for some products, but they'll probably do like Dell and lock into a deal with Intel. I guess another reason to go Intel initially is that if you're making that big a move in architectures, Intel is a safe bet.

John, June 8, 2005 11:45 PM:

Supposed pics of the inside of an Intel Mac dev box.

Apple Intel Mac>

It kinda drives home just how huge those G5 systems really are. A dual core, 64bit pentium D will look pretty much just like these pics.

Paul, June 9, 2005 12:09 AM:

There's plenty of room for a funnel in there!

Paul, June 9, 2005 09:31 AM:

Another crackhead weighs in.

John, June 9, 2005 10:39 AM:

Sigh. As always he mixes just enough logic, good points and tech speak to almost get you to forget that he is a friggin... Ah never mind. I mean really where do you start? And if you did start, where would it end? I supposed we would need a separate blog devoted to tech talking head clones to cover it properly.

Paul, June 9, 2005 10:56 AM:

Okay, I've found a nerdy weekend project: "The Cringley Article Generator".

What I'll do is create a Markov chain based on all previous Cringely articles (for writing style), and a random selection of technical articles from Google News (for relevence).

J, June 9, 2005 11:30 AM:

I really don't even want to click on the link. I want to say "Cringely is an idiot", but he's really just average. The problem is all the non-technical analysts and manager types that think he's saying anything. This comments usually fall in two categories:
1. Totally off base
2. Painfully obvious
It's not even fun to read his stuff for humor. I guess it is probably useful as an indicator as to which markets are going to be ridiculously overfunded though.

J, June 9, 2005 06:21 PM:

Pretty funny comments on slashdot about the Cringely article. I mostly read /. for the humor.

John, June 10, 2005 02:05 PM:

Funny that Apple still has stuff like this up. I've been reading interesting articles lately about how able is going to go about it's transformation to Intel from a PR point of view. Either they have to re-write history and pretend that they didn't make bold statements like this in the past, or they have to admit that these benchmarks were bogus. I suppose they will come up with something very clever. These guys are good at turning a products weakness into a strong selling point, e.g. Shuffle's lack of display.

John, June 13, 2005 11:47 AM:

I think Seth has the proper perspective on this change and what it will really mean to users.

J, June 16, 2005 01:05 PM:

Dell "willing" to sell MacOS. It seems the only real reason they'd do this is to pressure MS into cheaper licensing. I guess they might be worried about Apple competing with them by selling something they can't (OS X compatibility). But I don't see why they would bring that up at this point. Also I don't see why Apple would make any deals until they had at least been in the PC market for a while. They took a huge cost with moving to Intel (and creating the Apple store in the mall) so they could sell sweet hardware - they aren't going to give that away any time soon.

John, June 16, 2005 09:30 PM:

Personally I think Dell is only saying that because they know Apple won't go for it. It makes Apple look more closed.

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