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PowerPC Open Platform Motherboards Finally Here 248

Posted by timothy
from the hope-laptops-come-next dept.
Cajal writes: "IBM's POP (PowerPC Open Platform) is a standard for making PowerPC-based motherboards. It's been out for years, but no one did anything with it. That's now changed. According to a story on PenguinPPC, Mai Logic is finally making POP motherboards. Finally, we can buy PowerPC motherboards without dealing with Apple."
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PowerPC Open Platform Motherboards Finally Here

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  • by OS24Ever (245667) <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:00PM (#2914154) Homepage Journal
    What would the advantadge of this be over an Intel/AMD system? Or is the clone AIX market going to open up?

    If they're comparable in price to an intel I could see Linux folks using them for servers vs. Intel. But if the PPC is a lot more expensive (20%) I don't see the value in this.

    If MacOS still ran on something other than Apple's machines like it did in the mid 90s that'd be a reason to get one, but at the moment I'm not seeing it.
  • by Pengo (28814) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:03PM (#2914174) Journal

    Why not just buy a damn Athlon +++++ whateever system. At least I can be sure my binary only applications would work (ie. Java, Games, drivers, etc). Yes, in an open-source-only world, thats cool...

    If I HAVE to have a risc-based work-station I would rather do it on Solaris. You can pickup a sun-blade very cheep, throw in some ram and you have a great unix workstation. It will run all the crap you would want to run on linux, including linux itself.

    If I want to use a PPC platform, I personally will buy an Apple.
  • by swngnmonk (210826) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:04PM (#2914187) Homepage

    I'd assume that Apple continues to tie their Operating Systems to proprietary ROMs - making a generic PPC motherboard fairly useless if you're planning to run MacOS. Not like this is a new thing - since the early 80's, Apple has used their ROM chips to sue any clone manufacturers. I remember my 1992-vintage Mac emulator for the Amiga required Mac ROMs that the emulator manufacturer would not supply.


    I'd love to be wrong on this one - getting more competition in the PPC-hardware space would be great, but I doubt Steve Jobs will play along - he'll take his ball home first.

  • by Moderation abuser (184013) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:09PM (#2914216)
    It might be worth buying PPC after all.

    Cost is all important though. Motorola do PPC boards but they cost two and a half grand. WTF?
  • Re:Price! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Xoro (201854) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:16PM (#2914275)

    Well, I didn't see the price listed, but it does look like an evaluation board for their chipsets, not a regular motherboard. The old Sandpoint evaluation boards were in the $3k range, too, so nothing new here. I've been looking for a ppc board (that wasn't attached to an Apple) for years. Don't think this is it.

    I'm also starting to wonder if maybe that ship hasn't already sailed. The PPC (motorola fork, anyway) is getting hotter as it gets faster, and Athlon will be getting cooler as it shrinks. Will the difference be worth recompiling all my software? Is there a free optimizing ppc compiler available like the Intel one for x86? The ppc advantage seems to be marginalizing over time.

  • by shagoth (100818) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:18PM (#2914287) Homepage
    This likely won't have much impact on Apple as a whole. Frankly, after trying to make older hardware useful spending countless hours failing to have successful installs of LinuxPPC and Yellowdog Linux, I was thrilled to see that I can in fact have BSD albiet Darwin flavored without agony (and, of course, my old hardware remains unused).

    Apple's ultimate desktop success with Darwin/OSX will be because users who need that kind of OS power can now have it without the niggling driver details that plague Intel OS distributions. It amazes me that Linux has been as successful as it has with the agony that users have to endure to successfully install the OS. The bar is much higher now. Users can expect their OS install to just happen and still have the power tools of compilers and real server software without the electronic equivalent of repeatedly stabbing themselves in the leg with a fork.

    Of course, the die hard slashdot crowd will always prefer Linux, but it seems to me that things are shifting to a new and friendlier approach.
  • by lordfetish (48651) <digital_deviance@ h o t mail.com> on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:32PM (#2914381) Homepage
    The more people that use POP, the more processors that IBM & Motorola can sell - this helps the old economies of scale kick in and make PPC processors cheaper.

    Cheaper PPCs would help AIM compete with the commodity x86 marketplace.
  • by greygent (523713) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:34PM (#2914399) Homepage
    Proprietary Apple hardware?

    PCI? open.
    USB? open.
    Firewire? open.
    VGA? open.
    PowerPC? open.
    ATI/nVidia Graphics? open.

    Apple has already quickly adapted, by adopting industry-standard technologies, sans of course your blessed x86 platform. But who in their right mind likes working with the pile of shit that is the Intel platform?

    Apple is less closed than Microsoft. No one says Company X can't go out there and build a PPC system. Hell, people have gotten OS X to run on a few old Power Computing (non-Apple) computers.
  • Re:fp (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:35PM (#2914402)
    Keep a shtiff upper-lip old chap! The world needs more exclusive thinking people like yourself with more exclusive Operating Systems. Microsoft just isn't an exclusive enough OS for the high society of Slashdot, where all the exclusive thinkers think that Linux is everything and so much more.

    Screw the rest of the world since they just aren't exclusive, they are the dirt which I walk on as I go to my exclusive club.
  • by BobTheJanitor (114890) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:36PM (#2914406) Homepage
    Regardless of the degree of difficulty in kludging darwin to run on the POP boards, you're still missing out on the one thing that has set Apple apart in the computer industry: the tight interweaving of hardware and software. The most attractive feature of a mac, the guarantee that your mac stuff will run, is not really available to those who use the POP board.
    I can't understand why it excites any of you to be able to by a PowerPC chip from someone other than Apple. My dual processor G4 was reasonably cheap, Apple was friendly, and the package arrived quickly and was ready to go 90 seconds out of the box. Just don't buy an Apple monitor and don't get a ram upgrade (it takes regular PC133). It came out to be something like $2300, quite a bit cheaper than the $3500 for the board, plus (as noted previously), the GeForce *grin*.
  • Sorta (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pope (17780) on Monday January 28, 2002 @02:03PM (#2914582)
    Every single one of those legacy machines were genuine Macintoshes, and therefore have the Apple ROM need to run the old MacOS. OS X could easily check for the presence of that ROM and refuse to install. That has nothing to do with the Darwin core.
  • by jonbrewer (11894) on Monday January 28, 2002 @02:09PM (#2914615) Homepage
    A long time ago I watched the rags weekly for news of CHRP PPC boards. This was in the age of NT4, which shipped with binaries for Alpha, i386, PowerPC, (MIPS?) on each CD. PowerPC was going to be an excellent platform for computationally intensive problems on NT. Combined with Apple machines, PowerPC was going to be one of the big players in the desktop and workstation market.

    Once M$ gave up on support for PowerPC for NT, PowerPC was instantly marginalized as a workstation platform. Sure it's fantastic in Macs, IBM workstations, and massively parallel supercomputers, but without NT support this PenguinPPC announcement really means nothing in the grand scheme of things.
  • by demon (1039) on Monday January 28, 2002 @02:09PM (#2914617)
    Except for stuff like display drivers. OS X uses a native, accelerated binary driver for talking to the display hardware. If you have a display chip that Apple themselves never used, and that those drivers don't (and have no reason to) support, you'll find they don't work.

    Besides, the higher-level stuff could theoretically examine the OF ROMs, and see if they are or are not genuine. I don't know if it does this or not - considering the hacks to make OS X run on older PPC Macs, probably not - but it could be done in response to something like this.
  • by pmz (462998) on Monday January 28, 2002 @02:13PM (#2914639) Homepage
    Apple's ultimate desktop success with Darwin/OSX will be because users who need that kind of OS power can now have it without the niggling driver details that plague Intel OS distributions.

    Now that OS X is UNIX, I can imagine the Mac hardware/OS X combination being a sysadmin's dream come true. Sun hardware with Solaris is similar: it just works without the mind twisting neccessary to debug a M$ Windows installation, for example.
    It is very good that these sort of OS/Hardware combinations are becoming more affordable ($X,XXX rather than $XX,XXX), so that the world's reliance on mediocre computers (Windows on Intel) will diminish more and more over time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 28, 2002 @02:55PM (#2914875)
    Promised "economies of scale" was the whole reason that Apple signed up for PowerPC in the first place. If they wanted pure speed they would have gone with Alpha or MIPS or someone.

    A little history - IBM and Motorola thought they could replace Intel as the business desktop standard and released PPC PCs running Windows NT and OS/2. As icing on the cake, they also get Apple to sign up.

    Turns out that nobody wanted the Windows/PPC things and they are withdrawn from the market by 1996 or so. IBM retargets their work towards big servers, and Motorola retargets to the embeddded market. Apple ends up being the only PC vendor using the chip, which has left them in a very precarious situation for the last few years, with economies of scale working against them instead of for them.

    I doubt this will make much difference, though. Back in the day, IBM/Moto was talking about grabbing 25%+ marketshare for PPC.
  • by naasking (94116) <naasking&gmail,com> on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:04PM (#2915338) Homepage
    If they're comparable in price to an intel I could see Linux folks using them for servers vs. Intel. But if the PPC is a lot more expensive (20%) I don't see the value in this.

    They're not comparable to Intel/AMD in price. However, servers == long running time, long running time * power consumed per unit time == power used. PowerPC's consume much less power and hence save you money. If you could make up that 20% in a year of running, wouldn't it be worth it?

    If MacOS still ran on something other than Apple's machines like it did in the mid 90s that'd be a reason to get one, but at the moment I'm not seeing it.

    Uses:

    Running a cool linux machine, server farms and clusters (lots of power saved), embedded systems (low power a must), etc. The world is larger than your needs you know.

  • by Emil Brink (69213) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:56PM (#2915769) Homepage
    Um, I really think you're stretching the meaning of the word "open" here, especially in the end. I can probably dig up the specs for PCI or USB without too much trouble, but show me the register-level specs for any recent ATI or nVIDIA GPU, and I'll show you a broken NDA. Those devices are not "open", in my world. But hey, I'd just love to be proven wrong, and really like links! ;^)
  • by Christopher B. Brown (1267) <cbbrowne@gmail.com> on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:23PM (#2916019) Homepage
    Early Intel Xeon systems were pretty pricey, and early IA64 systems probably aren't exactly "cheap."

    $3900 is a mite high, but high prices are not particularly surprising when something is being sold in its initial "units of 1 board to early implementors."

    It obviously won't get wildly popular until they can get pricing a bit more competitive with the hardware emitted by Apple, but it's a little early to say that this will never happen.

    MAI may be able to maintain a viable commercial business without prices ever falling to $100/unit, by the way...

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