Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Apple Businesses Hardware

Pentium-Based Macs The Future of Apple? 817

Posted by Hemos
from the but-what-about-my-pretty-new-tibook-to-be? dept.
seek3r writes "Found this interesting article on BusinessWeek.com regarding Apple's potential switch to Intel chips. I wonder what the implications this might have for Apple with regards to market share and software support. Have Motorola's chips really lagged behind Intel?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Pentium-Based Macs The Future of Apple?

Comments Filter:
  • when the G4 comes out... Apple has too much of a commitment to Motorola (since 1982?) and IBM (since 1992?)
    • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@NospAm.keirstead.org> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:06AM (#4326984) Homepage

      ...Or am I missing something? the G4 chip has been around for a long time...

      • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @10:03AM (#4327436) Homepage Journal
        Probably meant the G5... which was the topic of some article in the last couple weeks.

        There's also been rumors of Apple showing interest in AMD's native 64 bit mode of the Hammer/Operton line, which wouldn't be a terribly stupid move if they're going to up and move. Going to Pentium (x86) would be a step backward, into a braindead and inefficient architecture, and probably cause a riot among developers. This would only make sense if Apple wanted to completely be out of making hardware, because they'd be aiming OSX at commodity hardware, and that's just too hideous to imagine, particularly if you start thinking about supporting drivers for everything. Probably better, to maintain their slim marketshare, to keep a firm hand on hardware options.

        • There's also been rumors of Apple showing interest in AMD's native 64 bit mode of the Hammer/Operton line, which wouldn't be a terribly stupid move if they're going to up and move.

          Ok, but then you say:

          Going to Pentium (x86) would be a step backward, into a braindead and inefficient architecture, and probably cause a riot among developers

          Um, you do realize, right, that AMD's 64bit architecture is basically just an extension to x86 in the same way Intel's 32bit architecture introduced with 386 was an extension of the 16 x86 from before (from the 8086, 8088, 80286, etc)

          I don't see how you can call moving to a 64bit extension of x86 a good idea while calling x86 itself "braindead and inefficient". Unless, of course, you don't know what you're talking about.

          Anyway, while you can certanly say that x86 code is backwards (it's big endian and all!), I don't see how you can call a chip that run code faster then what apple currently uses 'inefficient'.
  • Let me take a guess? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pVoid (607584) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:03AM (#4326950)
    Palladium/TCPA/DRM support?
    • by JWW (79176) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:24AM (#4327142)
      That would be the dumbest thing they would do.
      Unless this is mandated by law Apple should not touch this stuff with a 10 foot pole. They would gain leverage in the marketplace by offering computers free from this crap.

      If they did this rip -> mix -> burn would have to be changed to rip -> ask for permission to play -> ask for permission to play -> burn? (are you of your mind, you can't do that)

      If Intel pushes this palladium crap they deserve to be driven out of business, I don't care how damn many GHz these chips would run at, I'd consider any DRM enabled chip to be defective.
  • by BgJonson79 (129962) <[ude.ipw.mula] [ta] [htimsrs]> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:03AM (#4326952)
    I think it was the lack of competition in the Mac arena that left Motorolla high-and-dry when being compared to Intel now. I know you can't just measure MHz to MHz, but competition in any arena is better than none.
  • by peterdaly (123554) <petedaly@ix.ne t c o m . com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:03AM (#4326960)
    Seems like just yesterday I was reading about how IBM was helping Apple with getting to 64bit PowerPC chips.

    Wish I remembered where I saw the article.

    -Pete
    • by jamesoutlaw (87295) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:06AM (#4326980) Homepage
      Here's a link to eWeek [eweek.com]that discusses the Apple-IBM work on the 64bit PPC.

      I think this is more a more reasonable plan than Apple making the "Switch" to Intel processors.
    • Here it is ... (Score:2, Informative)

      Here is the page [macslash.org] at Macslash.

      Personally until something materializes everything is FUD. I will use what works now and change later when the change happens. There are too many things to get stressed about in life, so just accept that things don't always turn out as you wish, or as someone else says.
      • by jimhill (7277)
        "until something materializes everything is FUD."

        Methinks you misunderstand "FUD". It's not at all synonymous with "vapor".
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:06AM (#4326986)
    In terms of hardware site fanboy numbers, sure. But we're hitting the point where few people [*] can tell the difference between 1GHz and 2.8GHz and even hardware engineers are starting to realize this, so maybe it Just Doesn't Matter.

    One thing I respect about the PowerPC chips is that the power consumption is drastically lower than for x86 chips. Drastically. It would be a shame to lose that and have everyone using 100 watt processors a couple of years down the road.

    [*] Those few people are disproportionately loud.
    • by sql*kitten (1359) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:19AM (#4327112)
      But we're hitting the point where few people [*] can tell the difference between 1GHz and 2.8GHz and even hardware engineers are starting to realize this, so maybe it Just Doesn't Matter.

      Definitely. PC manufacturers love to compete on Mhz, but a fast CPU is useless if it's starved of useful work by bottlenecks in I/O, memory bandwidth, etc. It's not unusual for a sub 1Ghz PC with good SCSI disks to handily outperform a 2Ghz+ machine with mere IDE.

      Sun, SGI et al realized this years ago. Serious computing is limited not by clock speed of the CPU but by bus and memory bandwidth. That's why Sun sell systems with 300-400Mhz processors and gigaplane XB crossbar active backplanes. Nowadays with the increasing sophistication of consumer software (like the latest games), the same issues are recurring.

      If you're buying a system in the near future, drop 500-1000 Mhz in CPU speed and buy faster disks or more memory with the money you saved.
      • by ergo98 (9391) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:42AM (#4327277) Homepage Journal
        It's not unusual for a sub 1Ghz PC with good SCSI disks to handily outperform a 2Ghz+ machine with mere IDE

        If you said "a clustered array of RAID5 15,000 RPM drives versus a 5400RPM single drive", then that would have made sense, but to use SCSI versus IDE as the big differentiation is just silly: The intrinsic SCSI advantage has been disproven countless times.

        Sun sell systems with 300-400Mhz processors and gigaplane XB crossbar active backplanes

        That's pretty disingenuous: Sun sells systems with tens or hundreds of those "300-400Mhz" processors, disproving your "CPU power doesn't matter" BS. I guarantee you that if Sun weren't sliding behind in the CPU game (it's hard to compete with AMD and Intel with such a small niche market) they'd sell much more powerful CPUs. Instead they compensate by clustering dozens of them together.

        If you're buying a system in the near future, drop 500-1000 Mhz in CPU speed and buy faster disks or more memory with the money you saved.

        You'd save next to nothing. An Athlon 2200+ costs $220 Canadian here, and puts you in the upper realm of CPUs. Considering that most power PCs have 512MB of RAM (which is virtually never exhausted. Despite having several development tools open, and SQL Server running, and several different browsers, I currently have 370MB free. Adding more memory will merely increase the capacitive load of my PC). Secondly, adding a faster disk only matters if you do tasks which are heavily disk I/O intensive, which the overwhelming majority are not (especially because people have so much memory, and hence disk cache). It's like saying you'll get better video encoding performance by equipping your PC with a faster CD-ROM drive.

        This BS "CPUs are faster than we'll ever need" nonsense is as tired of an argument as it was a decade ago when contrarians were assuring us that a 386 was more power than any reasonable man would ever need. History has shown their claims to be absurd, yet as they say: History repeats itself. Take a man who claims that his Pentium 667 is "faster than I'll ever need" and give him a P4 2.2 to use for a week. Put him back on his 667. 9 times out of 10 he'll be on the phone to Dell to upgrade his PC. Most people who claim that they don't need better say so because they've never SEEN better.

        Additionally, try doing some video editing on your PC. While the hard drive is a factor (because massive amounts of data are read and written), the processor is massively more an influence: An Athlon 2200+ will perform the task that much quicker than a Athlon 1500+, again thoroughly reputing your claims that processors are overpowered. That's especially telling as video processing is one of the most disk and memory bound activities.
        • SCSI versus IDE as the big differentiation is just silly: The intrinsic SCSI advantage has been disproven countless times.


          This highly depends on the application. A single SCSI drive against a single IDE drive performing a single task may show the same performance. However, when you add multiple tasks and a lot of disk access , SCSI beats IDE hands down. As you add drives (don't even bring up RAID yet), tag command queing and parallel data paths blows away IDE no question. Now, add RAID into the equation, especially looking a the huge caching controllers available for SCSI with no IDE counterpart and you see that SCSI is certainly the way to go. Computer manufactures aren't idiots; IDE is cheaper and if it were on equal footing with SCSI no one would offer SCSI solutions. That having been said, no high-performance workstations or servers use IDE.

          That's pretty disingenuous: Sun sells systems with tens or hundreds of those "300-400Mhz" processors, disproving your "CPU power doesn't matter" BS. I guarantee you that if Sun weren't sliding behind in the CPU game (it's hard to compete with AMD and Intel with such a small niche market) they'd sell much more powerful CPUs. Instead they compensate by clustering dozens of them together.


          Sun, HP, etc., have for years sold small MHz machines that outperform the GHz machines available mainly because they use RISC technology and aligned instructions. Clustering has not been a large part of Sun's business -- ever! And, as far as multiple CPU's in a single box, yes, all these systems offer and endorse this, but then so does Intel if you read their journals. Intel ran themselves into needing GHz clocking because of poor chip design (backward compatible to x86). Sun and others don't design chips in those ranges because of the cooling requirements and heat failure rates. It is far easier for them to make lower MHz machines with multiple processors because they run OS's and software that can work UMP or SMP, where Intel has issues in the common market environment (example: Windows 95/98 unable to work SMP).

        • It's funny... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Dirk Pitt (90561) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @10:15AM (#4327510) Homepage
          you should mention the "Put him back on his 667. 9 times out of 10 he'll be on the phone to Dell to upgrade his PC" comment. I work in high-end CAD (actually CAE) and commonly work with multi-gigabyte faceted models. My main PC until last week was a 550Mhz P3 Xeon, with a SCSI subsystem and a Visualize FX graphics card. Now, the lease being up on my old system, I have a 2 Ghz P4 with an IDE drive and a $300 nVidia card. GIVE ME BACK MY OLD PC. Disk swapping alone is killing me; with the disk work shifted to the processor, I'm doing so much foot tapping it's just silly. Don't get me started on the video card. Even regular GUI rendering is slower, much less 20k surface geometry.

          I also work on single processor Sun, SGI, and IBMs, all of which at lower Mhz are MUCH faster than my PC (except maybe the slower SGIs, like the Indigo R10000s; at 150Mhz, they're showing their age but STILL keep up with the PC in rendering speed). Sun's problem is not technology, it's sales. IBM is just killing them in marketing. I talked to a guy the other day that's getting ready to begin replacing their 1800 Sun servers with AIX boxes. He concedes the Suns are superior, but they have been convinced from the confidence bestowed by IBM's superior marketing skills. It's widely known that Sun has superior tech, inferior business sense.

          I totally agree with you that it's BS the people that say 'current CPU speed is all we'll ever need', but it's equally BS to assume that the 'faster' Intel chips are actually the 'fastest' chips out there because of some marketing-driven clockrates. Superior architecture trumps clockrates any day of the week, and Intel is still lacking in the former. Incidentally, I'd take a single processor Ultra Sparc III box at 1.05 Ghz over a 2.0Ghz PC, even running *nix, any day of the week. As a matter of fact, I usually do.

          • Re:It's funny... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by radish (98371)
            So you bought the wrong PC for your needs - that doesn't mean there's anything intrinsically wrong with the technologies it uses.

            First off enable DMA for the disks - there's no way you should be getting any noticable CPU usage from the disks, even if they are IDE. I can run a defragger on my box and it never gets above 1% CPU usage.

            Secondly, if you are a CAD user WTF are you doing buying a games card? Hardly any surprise it doesn't perform too well. Will be sweet for Doom 3 though ;-)

            Like you say, your box is being killed by some dodgy disk settings, the wrong gfx card, and probably a lack of memory. However you use that as a reason to slate the processor - hello? The processor isn't getting a chance to do anything because of all the bottlenecks.
          • by TobyWong (168498)
            Please help!

            I am in the roofing business and recently my boss took away my hammer and gave me a handsaw instead. Now it takes MUCH longer to pound in my roofing nails. Saws suck! Who designed these things anyhow? There are sharp bits all along one edge and I often cut my hands as this crazy saw flaps back and forth. =(

            GIVE ME BACK MY OLD HAMMER!

        • IDE performance (Score:3, Informative)

          It looks like a lot of people have already challenged your assertion that IDE is just as good as SCSI. However, no one brought up the particular issue that plagues my experience with IDE - hardware write caching.

          Most modern IDE drives have write caching enabled by default. However, under every OS I've tested this configuration can lose data, even with a journaling filesystem. The problem is that the filesystem thinks that the data is successfully written to disk, but it's actually in the drive's cache buffer. If you lose power at the wrong moment, you lose that data. I've reproduced this problem with Western Digital, Seagate, and Maxtor 7200rpm 4MB buffer 80GB IDE drives under both Linux 2.4.X kernels and Microsoft 98/2000/XP platforms.

          I've written in to each of those drive manufacturers and they have confirmed that the cache buffer isn't backed by some battery or other type of power reserve, and that data can be lost when power is removed.

          Apparently this isn't an issue in SCSI land because SCSI drives respect a flush command, while some IDE drives do not.

          The bottom line is that if you want a reliable system with IDE drives you need to disable write caching, which drastically increases disk access latency and results in reduced throughput for many tasks.

          I'd love it if a kernel hacker can provide some more details as to why journaling filesystems can't forceably flush the IDE disk's buffer... I've found many older threads on the issue on the linux kernel list but haven't found any definitive resolution or action items recently.

          As the situation stands now, my iozone benchmarks show a 15k RPM 80GB SCSI drive performing 2x to 3x better across all tests than a 7.2k RPM 80GB IDE drive with write caching disabled, DMA turned on, and all other hdparm options optimized for maximal performance. That is a pretty large difference. Yes, I did verify that the hdparm tuning options were working correctly.

          And yes, the 3ware IDE RAID controllers have the exact same problem. They have an on-board raid cache, but it's not battery backed, so it is not a good idea to enable write caching in most cases. The 3ware cards are great and cheap, but they don't perform as well as their scsi equivalents.

          Before someone tries to flame me, yes I have heard of a UPS, but for the machines I'm trying to protect I can't trust that the UPS will be properly maintained, not overloaded, strong enough to survive a long outage, or that the customer won't hit the power button themselves out of ignorance when they think that the system has "hung".
      • I work in a lab where we produce a very widely used piece of scientific software, and we do benchmarking on everything from old 68k Macs to new Dual G4s to AMD and Intel boxes running both Windows and Linux. The fastest benchmark we have on record, despite the fact that we dropped over five grand on our dual G4, was an $1100 dual Athlon XP 1800+ using Intel's C compiler version 6. It's not just faster than the fastest Mac benchmarks, it's WAY faster. We haven't tried any higher dual Athlon systems, but I suspect they'd be faster still. I'm not saying that an Athlon system would be faster than a Mac in all circumstances (I don't know one way or another), but the benchmark I've got the most experience with has got the Macs losing in a landslide.

        That being said, I think OSX beats the crap out of Windows as an OS, and I'd really love to see such a great OS on a cheap, fast box. Can't have everything, I suppose.
    • my 400 g4 powerbook is certainly fast enough for most stuff, and it compared well to the 450 p3 dell laptop i was using also. i have ditched the dell, but the powerbook is still rolling several years down the road, and now running osx 10.2.1. not only that, but the battery actually still holds a charge. $2500.00 is too much for a couple of years of use? i never do understand that argument--the dell was $3300.00! and, the software is at least double the cost of the powerbook.
    • you bring two points to mind:

      first, apple needs to use the idea of a Power Rating, advertising the approximate equivalence to Intel's numbers. additionally, apple needs to donate high-end machines to benchmarking sites like tom's hardware so that we can see third-party comparisons of apple vs intel vs amd.

      second, apple needs to be more generous in allowing the changing of clock cycles (overclocking); what happens when one juices up these chips with more power (and adequate cooling)? ... this is tied in with the benchmarking sites as many of them love to test overclocked machines.
      • Uh uh. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hoggy (10971) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @10:09AM (#4327475) Journal
        first, apple needs to use the idea of a Power Rating, advertising the approximate equivalence to Intel's numbers. additionally, apple needs to donate high-end machines to benchmarking sites like tom's hardware so that we can see third-party comparisons of apple vs intel vs amd.

        No, not a good idea. All the while you're comparing Apples to Oranges no-one questions the difference. Start painting Apples orange and someone will notice that they're not very good Oranges.

        Apple (the company that is) don't really give a stuff about benchmarks. To be honest the only people who care are the pro users and they're only a small part of Apple's sales. Apple would just love for consumers to never hear about benchmarks.

        For writing letters to Mom and surfing the web a Mac is as fast as any PC. What Apple needs to - and indeed does - focus on is the user experience.

        Apple want people to choose computers based on what would look good in their living room, not on abstract performance numbers.
        • Re:Uh uh. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dubiousmike (558126)
          "For writing letters to Mom and surfing the web a Mac is as fast as any PC."

          My 5-year-old PC is just as good for this as a new PC. A friend (who has been using Macs for 6 years now) was looking for a new computer to do just that. After looking around a bit, he will buy a $350 dollar used PC laptop. Sure there is no warranty, but for that little money, he'll buy another if something goes wrong that can't be fixed easily.

          "Apple want people to choose computers based on what would look good in their living room, not on abstract performance numbers."

          Unfortunately for Apple, this isn't how most people choose their computers.

          People want computers that work with other people's computers. (Yes, all of us know Macs and PCs can work together, but you know what? I work for a video software company and after 6 years, our IT dept still can't get PCs and Macs to work together perfectly).

          People want CHEAP computers. Apple has never understood this. Sure I can buy an IMAC for under $1000. But what if I don't want a computer that looks like an Easy Bake Oven on acid? (Ok - the new IMacs look better, but how do I add a cheap second internal drive?)

          Can't Apple give us what we really need? A cheap box that can be easily upgraded, not have to pay top dollar because there is no (truly valid) competition and not charging me for point releases. (I'm sorry but if you sell me OSX, don't charge me again until OSII - for ALL of M$ shortcomings, I get updates for free for what has been at least 2 years at a time before I need to upgrade)

          Unfortunately, the entire computer industry, except for Apple, has decided that they will compete on margin. I like to think I am getting the best deal I can. I can spend an extra $100 and get a really cool case mod on top of the $900 I spent on a dual Athalon (2.0) and gig of ram and have a computer I think looks better than a Mac (IMHO).

          Someday I will use OSX for more than testing my web apps and browser compatibility, but not until I can install it on a PC (read - cheap and non proprietary hardware).
  • by z84976 (64186) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:07AM (#4326994) Homepage
    Competition is the fire that keeps the tech world advancing as we all know...

    Apple's had that single supplier of cpu's for SO LONG now... no wonder the chips have started to be less "supercomputerish" over time. I doubt seriously that Apple really would want to switch, but as long as they CAN switch then suddenly Intel/AMD is a real potential competitor for Motorola, (hopefully) forcing them to push the technology of their chips a little faster. Just a splash of market economics wisely added by Apple to keep the barrel fresh...

    (Nevertheless, I still want to see what OSX can do on my fasssst AMD systems... and I'm not about to buy a $3000 PPC system just to see it...)
  • Not AGAIN! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Logic Bomb (122875) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:09AM (#4327007)
    Didn't we go through this on /. like 2 weeks ago? At least this guy isn't pushing some stupid "MacOS on generic Intel boxes" idea, but really... we all know that Motorola hasn't advanced their PPC chip designs in like 3 years, and that Apple must be getting desperate for an alternative. This rates an accepted article?
  • Heh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wakko Warner (324) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:09AM (#4327008) Homepage Journal
    After all the badmouthing of Intel chips Apple has done in the past (some of the stupidest ads I've ever seen, by the way), this would be the ultimate irony.

    "The G4 CRUSHES the Pentium in... oh shit, wait, no, it doesn't. Gimme some of that 2.8 gigahertz love."

    - A.P.
  • by eyefish (324893) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:10AM (#4327015)
    One of the main reasons many people don't adopt Mac OS/X is because it requires a whole new and expensive hardware investment. Give the commodity-based PC community access to Mac OS/X, and I trully believe that even Apple will be surprised. I'd be first to *BUY* a copy for my relatives as well as for myself. I even wrote a VERY long article not long ago on slashdot about this topic, read it here. [slashdot.org]
    • by gaudior (113467) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:29AM (#4327187) Homepage
      Repeat after me:

      Apple is a HARDWARE company.

      Apple is a HARDWARE company.

      Apple is a HARDWARE company.

      Apple is a HARDWARE company.

      You will NEVER see another Mac OS running on a third-party box. Somebody might crack the OS to run on a biege box, but they'ed never be able to distribute that crack, or even publish it. After all, Apple's lawyers are second only to Disney's in terms of vicious pursuit of trademark, copyright, and other IP infringement.

  • by derch (184205) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:10AM (#4327017)
    Sorry, that rumor is two weeks old. The latest rumor is that Apple will go with IBM's 64 bit GPUL [eweek.com]. This is also inline with rumors from earlier this year that said OS X would go 64 bit soon.
  • I have maintained that since they switched to Darwin/BSD that Apple would have tp put OSX or OSXI on a PC.

    That is THE only way Mac can truely compete with Windows is to compete on the PC market.
    • That is THE only way Mac can truely compete with Windows is to compete on the PC market.

      Apple isn't competing with Windows, they are competing with Dell, HPaq, IBM, and Gateway. OS X will probably never be available on commodity beige boxes.

      Expect to see Apple go with a 64-bit RISC CPU. That way they can play their own numbers game ("Dell - 32 bit. Gateway - 32 bit. Compaq - 32 bit. Apple - 64 bit!"). Some consumers may still remember the 32-bit/64-bit/128-bit video game arms race of the late 90s and decide that a 64-bit chip is necessarily better than a 32-bit one.

  • by bluemilker (264421) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:10AM (#4327023) Homepage
    I bought my first PowerPC-based Mac during that short, happy time when we could actually claim, without a hint of guilt or fear of reprisal, that G3 chips were "pentium crushers."

    Unfortunately, despite my love for the mac platform, and my desire to claim that our hardware is "just as good"... it's not. RISC vs CISC stopped being an issue when Intel chips became RISC chips pretending to be x86's. PowerPC's still do more per clock than Pentiums, but the differences in clock speed, bus speed, and sundry other ephemerals has finally gotten to the point where for 90% of tasks, intel chips are just faster.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't plan to switch until they pry my computer from my clenched, arthritic hands... but I can no longer look a computer-newbie in the eye and tell him that "Macs are just as fast". Better experiences, maybe... but as fast? No.

    Of course, for most people, we're close to that point where chip-speed stops mattering... (maybe 1-2 more cycles of Moore's Law ought to do it.) How many people think about the speed of their computer while surfing, emailing, word-processing, or any such thing? (I know, I know, it's a cliche, but cliches are cliches because they're _true_.)

    I think, business-wise, a switch to intel would be near-suicide for Apple. But Motorolla is dead in the water, desktop-computer-wise. Perhaps this theoretical IBM chip is the future... who knows?
  • by NerdSlayer (300907) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:12AM (#4327040) Homepage
    The real reason is: Microsoft.

    That's right folks. If OSX works on PC hardware, it has suddenly just become a competitor to Windows. What happens then? No more Mac IE, no more Mac Office. Suddenly Macs are nothing more than expensive linux boxes with a groovy desktop.

    Apple can't "test" the waters by having some PPC boxes and some Intel boxes, they just have to jump head long into competition against essentially Dell for hardware and Microsoft for software. It'll never happen.
  • Problems Ahead! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by e8johan (605347)
    If Apple was to do Intel (read Px) based hardware, would they then go for a standard PC? Probably not as this means that their users can go to Win or *nix too easily. As they then would have to develop their own special little system, they would still have performance problems (fewer bucks spent on HW development) and expensive hardware (monopoly, or close to).

    Since this rumour has been around for a long time without anything actually happening, I'd say that Apple will keep on building proper RISC based machines. We can all agree that it would be a step backwards to go from PPC to x86 from an architectual point of view, can't we.
    • x86 is a specification. If they use OpenFirmware without a normal PC BIOS that's enough to stop most PC operating systems from working. Linux can run under OpenFirmware on other platforms, so getting it to work under the new Mac platform wouldn't be difficult.
  • I read an interesting comment by Jack Schofield in Computer Weekly about some guy (can't remember his name) who predicted that Apple would switch to using Intel processors. This was because whilst Intel processors are now hitting the 2ghz mark, Apple have been forced to use dual processors to get anywhere near the same sort of speed jumps over time.

    It was pointed out that this guy was the same guy that, 5 years ago, predicted the merger of HP and Compaq for all the same reasons that they used today.

    Personally I know very little about Mac's, but I can't see why moving to Intel would be a bad thing in any way.

    I often found (in the old days, and were talking 8 years ago) that a Mac always appeared to run slower than the same speed PC and was substantially more expensive. I don't know if this is the same these days (having never used OSX - merely looked) but if it's true, anything that can reduce the cost and boost the speed must be good.

  • Uhm, no. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thalin (130318) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:14AM (#4327070) Homepage
    For one, this has been rumored countless times before. Has it happened? No. Here's why.

    One: Apple's revenue comes from it's hardware sales. If people can go out and buy plain vanilla PCs and install MacOS on them for significantly cheaper than they can buy a Mac, Apple's income will drop a great deal.

    Two: As others have said, Apple's been with IBM and Mot. for a Very Long Time (tm). There have been rumors equally as valid as this one about apple developing it's *own* chip for fabbing at IBM (a company, unlike Mot., who can actually get decent yields).

    Three: Again, as others have said, it's more probable that Apple will go with IBM's next-gen 64-bit desktop CPU. IBM makes good chips. They're not big in the desktop market, but the Power4 has been a big server chip for a while now, and with good reason. It was one of the first dual-chip-on-die procs that actually made public usage (afik), and did a large amount of ass-whipping.

    To conclude: Apple going x86 would be stupid.
    Have a nice day.
    • Re:Uhm, no. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GauteL (29207)
      Oh.. not again.

      Why does everyone assume that using Intel-chips would make the computer compatible with PCs?

      Apple could design the hardware in a very specific non-compatible way and just take advantage of the fact that Intel-chips are a commodity.
  • by banky (9941) <gregg@nOSpAm.neurobashing.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:17AM (#4327087) Homepage Journal
    This article [cnn.com] chronicles some of Apple's challenges.

    But on the topic. So Apple has 3 choices:
    1. Wait for Motorola to get their act together. All the code optimization in the world won't make OS X as fast as it could be. Jaguar, for example, made my B&W G3 REALLY responsive compared to 10.1.5. But it occured to me, that's probably the last speed boost from software. You can only go so far.
    2. Get the new IBM chip working. Hey, fine, it'll probably work. But it'll take a year or more to get it ported, documented, and in production. It won't be cheap, most likely. It will most likely be fast and powerful, but Apple walks a fine line WRT price.
    3. Get Intel working. Hey, fine. Port OpenFirmware to an Intel-type mobo, then ship a computer that runs NONE of the software outside of the core OS. Wait for developers to buy one of these new machines to recompile their packages. This is where proprietary software bites you on the ass - you can't just wander between architectures with your source tarball and hope for the best. Oh, and of course, Classic won't work, and you're going to be stuck with whatever devices are already "cross platform". YOu can't just pick up a device from CompUSA and expect it to work.

    The only plus I see to OSX/x86 is that the possibility for cheaper hardware might mean more people picking up an OS X box, and maybe some more drivers will be written. I'd buy one in a second, except... the majority of stuff in my Dock probably wouldn't be "ported" in the first year. So if it's under a grand, say, what good does it do me? No MacSQL, no EV Nova, no Remote Desktop... I need that stuff.
  • Why is this? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nizo (81281) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:18AM (#4327097) Homepage Journal
    The big potential losers if Apple should switch chips would be software developers. They would be forced -- perhaps for the second time in two years -- to rewrite their programs, this time to make them work with a Pentium-based Mac. That's no small task -- and could be a disaster for the Mac community, since many of its developers are small shops. And without software support, the Mac would truly be dead.


    Why is this so? Having never done dev work on an Apple I am pretty ignorant, but doesn't Apple release a basic API that doesn't change even when the underlying hardware changes (apparently not)? And why not release free tools into open source, so piles of developers are writing software for Apple for free?

  • Motorola lagging behind Intel is really simple market perception due to the now "standard" performance benchmark being a simple "GHz" tag. So most users (and non-technical press writers) simply assume that x86 chips are faster because they run at a higher clock rate.

    As any knowledgable engineer knows this is not the case at all (as a matter a fact, in some benchmarks the PowerPC architecture beats the x86 architecture even when running at a much lower clock rate; just try photoshop on both platforms).

    However, I also believe that market perception is a very important part of our society, and if you don't play the game you'll pretty much be left out unless you come with a revolutionaty technology that clearly makes a 10Ghz x86 chip feels like a snail compared to your clock-less chip. So in this regard, yes, Motorola is lagging behind x86 chips, and if I were Apple I'd be VERY worried about this. Just remember, Joe Somebody who just bought a 1.2 Ghz Mac will feel a little weird when his friend just bought a 2.5 Ghz PC, even when in real-world ussage both would perform about the same. Perception.
  • by Typingsux (65623) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:19AM (#4327108)
    My opinion is they would be taking a big Risc doing so.

    Oh wait, they would be taking it out.

    I'm confused

  • of how EVERYONE can and will be af(in)fected by DRM measures. Apple says it has no interests in DRM, however, iTunes already has Licence-handling code in it. A switch to Intel could 'seal the deal', insuring that DRM is included in Apple's chips.

    Sadly, one thing that could 'break' Palladium would be the 'secret' x86 port of OS X. There are *many* people who would switch to OS X in a heartbeat (on their recent PCs). MS would at last be fighting an opponent with skill and product. Apple could put MS to bed.

    I think that MS is really going for the total domination of hardware/software, and Apple is the only company that could stop it. Linux is great for many things, but Apple is *ready*.

    Be careful what you wish for...

  • by Angron (127881) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:22AM (#4327124) Journal
    It seems odd that some people think this means that suddenly they'll be able to run OS X on a nice cheap x86 box. Using Intel-compatible processors doesn't mean it'll be compatible with a standard Windows PC in any way; it just means there's a different label on the processor (and a different architecture of course).

    Apple makes its money on hardware, so no matter which processor is in the box, buying a Mac will be necessary to run OS X, and it will still cost big bucks.

    -A

  • by KH (28388) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:22AM (#4327125)
    But...

    From the article:

    Still, a Pentium-based Mac is an intriguing idea.


    No.

    I don't want a laptop that blows hot air like hair drier or desktops that have three fans. As people realizing (as another poster mentioned) the CPUs are fast enough, I don't see much point in abandoning the PowerPCs that are small, consume little energy, and hence run so much cooler. For me, computers that are quiet and cool are much preferable to the opposite.

    Another thing the author of the column seems to forget is that PowerPC is not a chip solely from Motorola. The point that IBM is also a partner and develops PowerPC chips is completely missing.
  • Costs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by totallygeek (263191)
    If you recall, Apple refused to use IDE technology in their systems because SCSI was better. When pricing in the market became a major issue for them, they made the switch. The same I think applies here. Motorola has always been a nice chip, but expensive as well. Intel is simply cheaper and I am sure that Apple has contemplated making the switch for some time. Besides, there are tons more programmers working on low-level (assembly, machine, embedded) with Intel than Motorola so you expenses there are lessened as well.

  • It must be late in the month--we've got another "OS X running on Intel is the only way for Apple to survive" story. Also, somebody point out that to this guy that the reason Apple machines "just work" is that they use a small set of heavily tested hardware. They don't have to support every piece of crap under the sun...

    Such a move on Apple's part would complicate matters significantly. Consider that if hardware devices would STILL need mac specific drivers to meet whatever "hardware security" apple uses to make their machines proprietary--Meaning much hardware STILL won't function with OS X, whether it's on top of Intel or a PowerPC proc from Motorola or IBM.

    My favorite uninformed reader was this guy:
    Ian Crooks, operations engineer at Pennsylvania-American Water Co., declares: "I for one would switch tomorrow if they would release a [Pentium] machine."

    This guy doesn't understand the term "switch." If he starts off running an Intel PC, and buys an "Intel mac" what has he really changed? Still using the same ancient hardware architecture kludged on top of a 32-bit chip sucking more juice that an a electric battleship.
  • Reading the article gives me the feeling that the author is the sort of person who enjoys starting a flame war and sitting and watching the trolls move in. Much of what is said in the column is FUD. To quote two parts:

    Here's the most compelling reason to abandon Motorola's PowerPC chip: It's falling further behind in the speed race as Intel's chips leave Motorola's in the dust.

    Yes, if you are going per Mhz this is true, but once again Intel is a CISC chip with plenty of legacy components and the PowerPC is a RISC chip,
    with plenty fewer transistors. Mhz is not an indication of work or performance. It is on the other hand a good indication of the heat that the chip will emit.

    Several engineers familiar with the hardware work that goes on inside Apple wrote to say that, yes, it has quietly developed a Pentium microprocessor that could power a Mac.

    It is a known fact that Apple has an internal project, known as Maklar, where MacOS X works on Intel chips. Apple is a hardware company and while plenty of R&D might be going on, only so much actually ends up as a product. It may end up being real, but any smart company has backup plans, even if they never see the light of day.

    Add to all this that e-week, the same source that started this hornets nest, also mentioned [eweek.com] that Apple is working with IBM to use the 64-bit PowerPC chip in future Macs. The truth is, Apple is likely to abandon Motorola, as Motorola is incapable of developing any chips that have a market other than embedded solutions. Motorola has really appears to be trying to get out of the desktop processor market.

    These are my points of view - you are free to disagree.
  • The article says the plan is not to make Mac OS X run on Intel PC's, so this isn't like they're competing with Linux/MS. It would be Apple contracting Intel to make a "special" Pentium (4) chip and the new Mac OS X would be designed to only run on that, effectively maintaining control of the hardware bit.

    Of course, we wonder how long it will be until some astute hacker makes this ability null and Mac OS X will be able to run on Beige Boxes. And if this happens, will it be a big problem? I mean, if Microsoft hauled off and proclaimed "you must now use Dell systems and if you don't you're not allowed to gripe about BSOD's anymore" people would have their head (again), but Apple wouldn't even have to say that - they could come out with an Intel OS and it would just be agreed/assumed that no one using a non-Apple box could go stuff themselves. Developers could have the best of both worlds - the Intel architecture they're used to and the closed nature consoles afford them (plus they can use this to make non-game applications, to boot).

    Still, on the topic of similar hardware I'm shocked that it's been close to a year and we've had no XBox emulators for the PC. I mean, sure there's things to work around on the XBox (not the least of which is supposedly the fact that the data on XBox DVD's is backwards) but I figure if they can get Linux on the XBox, surely they could get XBox games to run on the PC. Perhaps the above scenario isn't so plausible after all.

  • without compromising Apple's control over its hardware.

    Apple can simply continue to only allow certain hardware to work with its OS. Just because they move to a new processor doesn't mean they can't continue to do what they have always done. If Motorola and IBM can't help Apple keep up in the Mhz wars (Ghz, now), then why not contimplate a move to Intel or AMD? Use one or the other, and continue on. This could lower prices a bit, and keep the Apple moto of "It just works" intact.
  • by Walker (96239) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:27AM (#4327173)
    The problem with Motorola's chips is that the front side bus (FSB) only runs at 167 Mhz. This means that Macs cannot truly take advantage of DDR RAM so long as they use the current line of chips, even though Intel machines have had this for two years now.

    Back when the G4 was designed, things were looking bad for Apple, so Motorola retrenched into the embedded market. These processors need low power, not high bandwidth. That is why Apple laptops are so nice and Apple desktops are so lousy right now.

    Furthermore, the focus on the embedded market is why Motorola does no deep instruction analysis (Again not needed in this market). Intel's investment in this area is what has helped their SPEC score over the years, not the clock speed.

    There are rumors flying about a new IBM chip that fixes all of these problems, but that is all they are right now -- rumors.
    • by max cohen (163682) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @10:27AM (#4327604)
      Back when the G4 was designed, things were looking bad for Apple, so Motorola retrenched into the embedded market.

      True, but not completely the reason. Don't discount the effect of Steve Jobs' killing of the Mac clone market, which shrank Motorola's market for selling its non-embedded PowerPCs to one vendor. This angered the company far more than the press would have you believe, since Steve Jobs single handedly kicked Motorola out of a market and left them with a huge stock of unsold systems.

      If Motorola were really worried about the non-embedded PPC market, they would've allocated additional resources to the project long ago. There are plenty of smart people working there.
  • by a7244270 (592043) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:29AM (#4327186) Homepage Journal
    This topic has been beaten to death here and on arstechnica.

    I personally can't see it happening for several reasons, the number one being software. Apple has commited to the intel/moto design, which includes a cpu library (altivec). Any 3rd party apps if not rewritten will need to be run in some horrible altivec->intel emulation kludge, which will be nightmareishly slow, and defeat the purpose.

    Slower than the cartoon we know as XP? - probably not, but still slow.

    The other thing is power consumption/heat dissipation - for mobile applications intel/amd just plain suck up too much juice and run too hot.

    Apple is currently suffering because its chip suppliers have not been producing faster ships at the rate they should be, but until next month (chip conference) its all speculation as to what apples' long term plans are.

    I've read this guy's writings before, and I find it annoying that his article got slashdotted. Now he is probably an even more highly regarded hack. :(
  • Speculation! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zmooc (33175) <zmooc AT zmooc DOT net> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:31AM (#4327198) Homepage
    (DISCLAIMER: my THC-entrenched brain made this all up)

    What interests me is that Apple hasn't said anything about this matter so far. These rumours must have their impact on Apple's sales; if I'd run a Mac-based shop and have plans to upgrade my systems, I would wait until I'm certain about the future; if they're really making the move I may postpone the upgrade. Apple must know this and must know about the rumours. Now there are 3 possibilities:
    1. They're thinking about the possibility of making the move but don't know yet. In this case they will probably not say anything about this matter because it increases uncertainty.
    2.They're not thinking about a move at all. They would most certainly let their customers know this to take away any uncertainty.
    3.They're indeed planning to move. They don't want to make this known too soon since it will most certainly make buyers wait until the new systems are on the market.

    So. We haven't heard anything from Apple yet so we're probably dealing with case 1. or case 3. here. :)

  • The G4 myth (Score:5, Informative)

    by Florian (2471) <cantsin@zedat.fu-berlin.de> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:34AM (#4327216) Homepage
    The German computer magazine c't just tested the brandnew G4-based Apple XServe w/ OS/X against a comparatively cheap Dell rackmount server with a PIII(!)/1.4 GHz running on RedHat Linux. Result: The Dell smoked the XServe in regards to both software and hardware performance. It turned out that even a Pentium III chip w/ PC133 SDRAM is faster than a G4, and that the G4 is only half as fast in memory writes. Try to scale this up to a comparison of Apple's hardware against a 2.5 GHz-P4 or P4-Xeon with RDRAM, and you see that Apple and Motorola are lagging 1-2 years behind in performance. I imagine that Apple's management is highly nervous about the situation. The more time will pass by, the lesser are the chances to cloud the problems of the PPC platforms with marketing rhetoric. Apple sells the myth of G4 performance superiority with Photoshop benchmarks, thus convincing the gullible and non-technical people. Photoshop indeed performs better on a Mac because it is optimized for the platform; the Wintel version of Photoshop is only a port of the Mac version, using an API compatibility layer and lacking CPU optimization.

    The only real advantage of the PPC at the moment is that it lacks a lot of backwards compatibility cruft and, because of its RISC design, consumes less power and spreads less heat. It is a fine notebook CPU (and Apple is a fine notebook manufacturer). But Apple seems to have had no other chance but giving up this advantage by selling its newest line of desktop G4 Macs with dual CPUs, keeping up with Intel at least halfway with such a "hack".

    • by Genady (27988)
      *sigh* I guess it works. You present a few facts, then use them as the launching point for unreasonable claims.

      PPC != Apple. You start by attacking the XServe, which may be deserved, and expand the attack to the rest of the PPC family. It doesn't wash.

      G4 does not compete with Xeon. POWER4 (itself a wholely compliant PPC chip) does, and you know what it Smokes Xeon as a server chip. Xeon scales to what 8 way, with a contorted memory bus structure? POWER4 scales to at least 24 way, probably higher if IBM cared to offer something bigger and integrates onto a modern server crossbar switch.

      If Xeon is so good, why aren't companies converting their Sun/Oracle installations to it rather than RS/6000 POWER4 machines?

      Please spare us the classic bait and switch strategy of arguments.
    • Re:The G4 myth (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bryan Ischo (893)
      The PIII 1.4 Ghz is *alot* faster per Mhz than the P4. I would guess than on alot of tasks the PIII 1.4 Ghz compares favorably to a P4 2.6 Ghz or so.

      At work we benchmarked a large variety of systems and for our task (compiling a large software base) the PIII 1.4 was the best choice by far. Better than any P4, of course alot of that had to do with the fact that the PIIIs can be run dual CPU where the P4 cannot.

      The PIII 1.4 has 512K of L2 cache on chip, this is the biggest difference. Also the PIII has a superior design; the P4 is a *huge* mistake that only Intel's gigantic momentum in the industry could allow them to get away with.

      That being said, the PIII 1.4 is also quite expensive, $300+ per chip. I have no idea how much G4's go for but I'm guessing they are expensive, as are the top-of-the-line P4 chips. The athlons are alot cheaper but in our tests on-chip cache seemed to be supremely important and even the mighty and inexpensive Athlons fell to the PIII 1.4.

      I make these points only because you seem to be suggesting that a "mere" PIII-1.4 bested a G4. I just wanted to make it clear that a PIII-1.4 is actually a very fast x86 processor, comparable to a 2.X Ghz P4, where X is > 4, especially on the kinds of benchmarks that c't was running ...
  • by Van Halen (31671) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:46AM (#4327316) Homepage Journal
    As others have pointed out, the question of whether Apple might move to x86 has been brought up numerous times before. So far any such speculation is just that - speculation. And in my opinion, very short sighted and/or overly hopeful. Sure, I always wanted to run OS X on my PC. But that was a pipe dream so I bought a new Mac. Couldn't be happier.

    Let's go over this one last time. First, Apple will never release OS X to run on a generic Intel PC. If they did, they'd sell about 100,000 copies to geeks who don't want to buy Apple hardware. When those geeks find out that there's no software for OS X/Intel, they'll gradually move back to dual booting Linux and WinXP, leaving OS X as an interesting oddity like the copy of BeOS they installed once too. I mean, you can only watch the genie effect or transparent Terminal windows on top of a screensaver running on the desktop so many times before it gets old.

    Let's not even get into the nightmare that it is to support every piece of crap cheapo PC hardware combination like MS has to. Apple does not want that, period.

    Why will there be no software? Look at how long it took (and is still taking in many cases) vendors to update their software for OS X. Now imagine Apple pissing them off by telling them to recompile and retest under OS X for Intel. Sure, that part probably won't be as big as moving from OS 9 (unless they've got a lot of endian or other hardware specific code), but recall how long it took vendors to switch to PowerPC native code. Ain't gonna happen. Let's imagine: OS X Intel comes out; Apple tries to convince developers to support it, but they (wisely) wait and see how it goes. Nobody buys it, and software vendors see that it's going nowhere, so they don't bother with it. No software == no point. Good luck!

    Furthermore, what's the incentive to port to OS X Intel if (a) it's a relatively small, untested market, and (b) more importantly, they already have a Windows version that works fine? Along these lines, for Apple to provide any sort of VMware-like Windows emulation under OS X Intel would be suicide for the platform. Application vendors would just tell their customers to run it under Windows/VMware. What then is the incentive to develop a version for OS X Intel?

    For Apple to move their own hardware to Intel would also piss off a lot of people. They pulled it off once with PowerPC, but that was truly necessary. It went amazingly smoothly, but it was really a couple of years before PowerPC native apps starting showing up in numbers and the newest PowerPCs were fast enough to emulate the old 68ks as fast as the last ones. Does anyone really want to go through all that again? It would be a couple of years before Apple would even hope to be up to par with Windows in performance! Not gonna happen.

    Sure, I don't doubt that Marklar exists. It does give them that last desperation option, when there's no hope for anything else. But perhaps more importantly, it serves to improve the OS X codebase simply by making it platform transparent. The one instance where I could possibly see an Intel-based product from Apple would be XServe. Just a thought - but if you're not likely to be running PhotoShop or ProTools or Quark on a server, perhaps an Apple branded unit with Intel would work out with all Apple server software.

    The only intelligent thing Haddad says is in the second to last paragraph, where he essentially acknowledges that software would be the biggest roadblock. Developers will likely balk at the prospect of porting to yet another platform, and "without software support, the Mac would truly be dead." Exactly.

    Of course, the most likely scenario lies with the rumors of the Apple/IBM collaboration on a next generation PowerPC chip. That's where I'd put my money. Nobody knows if/when G5 will ever come out and Motorola doesn't seem to care about the non-embedded market. Hopefully IBM can bring Apple back to the days when PowerPC really did crush the Pentium. We'll see.

  • by shunnicutt (561059) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @09:47AM (#4327322)

    Some users, however, would welcome a PC version of OS X. That would enable Windows emulation software, such as VirtualPC by Connectix, to run much faster. "The ability to switch back and forth easily between OS X and Windows would be a major coup," says Sasaki. Ian Crooks, operations engineer at Pennsylvania-American Water Co., declares: "I for one would switch tomorrow if they would release a [Pentium] machine."

    This is exactly why Apple should never port OS X to an Intel architecture.

    Virtual PC would run much faster if it didn't have to emulate the microprocessor, true. So much faster that it would discourage companies from coding for OS X itself, because you could run their Windows products on VPC.

    Not only that, but eventually somebody -- not Apple, certainly -- would release a project similar to WINE that would allow Windows programs to co-exist with OS X programs. It won't be completely compatible, of course -- especially as Microsoft changes the APIs -- but it would give companies another excuse not to develop for OS X.

    A third factor is the cost of porting existing Macintosh OS X software to this new architecture. Facing that cost, why not port to Windows and let the Mac run your program through these emulation options?

    As time goes by, Macintosh users would have to depend more and more on Windows software. Sure, they'd prefer software designed specifically for their platform, but developers won't be selling it, because it's easier and cheaper to code for Windows. Eventually, the users would just switch to Windows because Windows programs will run better on Windows computers.

  • by Brian Stretch (5304) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @10:01AM (#4327425)
    After spending so much time and effort bashing the Megahurtz Myth, there's no way they'd go with Intel P4 chips and their performence killing 20 stage pipeline.

    OTOH, they might go x86-64 on the AMD Hammer series. Gobs of memory bandwidth, excellent FPU, high clockspeed and VERY high performence. Plus, by targeting x86-64 as their starting point, they get both optimized performence AND by definition don't run on 32-bit chips, so there's less whining from users about not running on their 32-bit generic PCs. They can go 8-way multiprocessor economically with the Opteron series too.
    • there's no way they'd go with Intel P4 chips and their performence killing 20 stage pipeline.

      Never mind that that useless pipeline easily outperforms the current best offerings from AMD and Motorola (though Intel and AMD are playing leapfrog, Intel's on top at this moment.) Do you even know what processor pipelines are for? Do you know that Apple's past comments comparing pipeline depths of powerpc processors to the pentium 4 was complete and utter FUD? Have you even looked at fair and reasonable benchmarks?

      The plain truth is that powerpc processors and Macs have been lagging behind in performance for a long time. Top of the line G4s use 1.25Ghz processors. Even if they were twice as wide superscalar (I don't believe they are) AND the majority of programs could take advantage of all the extra execution units most of the time (which is not often the case on any superscalar CPU), they would still not match the performance of a top-of-the-line P4. Not to mention the fact that the Apple hardware would STILL be much more expensive.

      How long has Apple been demonstrating performace superiority by relying on artificial benchmarks that consist of a select group of Photoshop filters? Preciesely as long as they've been lagging behind in performance. They've even given up on the performance edge lie completely now (though plenty of Mac cultists think comparisons made five or ten years ago are still relavent.)

      Unfortunately, Apple's current marketing campaign sucks. Instead of showing some snob talking in vague ambiguous terms about how OSX is so much better than Windows, actually SHOW OFF THE OS. Demonstrate how easily you're able to open you're co-worker's MS Office documents (the Mac version of Office is much better than the XP version IMO). Then start minimizing and maximizing crap. After they cream their shorts, lots of PC users will be lining up to pay for overpriced Apple hardware.

      This post is not a dig against Hammer. OSX running on Hammer would be pretty damn sweet. If I could run OSX on commodity PC hardware, I'd do it in a hot minute (or at least dual boot to it). In fact, there's nothing stopping Apple from dressing up PC hardware nice and pretty and running OSX on it. Unfortunately, they'd almost certainly make it proprietary hardware using an x86 processor (and probably still nVidia graphics hardware, which would be nice). Anything else would probably be suicide, even if they decided to just be an OS company.

      My dream would be if Apple made OSX more conformant to unix standards (i.e. the unix standard filesystem layout). Imagine running the Aqua gui on your *nix of choice. I'd drop X11 like the dirty slut that it is.

      # send CC num to apple
      # emerge aqua
      # drool
  • Developers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RAVasquez (318309) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @10:22AM (#4327570)
    The big potential losers if Apple should switch chips would be software developers. They would be forced -- perhaps for the second time in two years -- to rewrite their programs, this time to make them work with a Pentium-based Mac. That's no small task -- and could be a disaster for the Mac community, since many of its developers are small shops. And without software support, the Mac would truly be dead.

    Oh, yeah. That's why.

    Imagine running an x86 Mac that has no native version of Office or Photoshop and runs PPC-based versions like molasses, but runs Windows versions at native speed. Imagine trying to convince developers to write for OS X instead of Windows at that point. Why should they bother?
  • Another Alternative (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MoneyT (548795) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:05AM (#4327910) Journal
    Why do we assume that if Apple changed chip manufacturers, they would also change platforms and architecture? It seems to me a much more likely senario that if Apple were to change processor vendors, they would either

    A) develop a new architecture
    or
    B) continue development on the PPC architecture, just with a new company.

    After all, IBM makes x86 chips, but they're developing PPC chips for Appple too. It seems to me that if Apple could provide them with the correct tools to do the job, AMD or another manufacturer would be happy to take on the extra revenue that the PPC chips could bring in. Assuming they can justify the R&D costs.

    On a side note, if Apple does switch, it seems highly unlikely that they would switch to Intel. Maybe IBM, maybe AMD, but they've spent too much time bashing Intel that to switch over to them would be a worse PR move than the M$-Apple alliance.
  • Just love this.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Archfeld (6757) <treboreel@live.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:10AM (#4327981) Journal
    I suggested Apple needs to do this yesterday in a thread and was called a troll and stupid....
    Put OSX on a pentium and watch XP die a quick death. Even if it costs apple the office suite, given a year that will be all M$ has to offer and they will be porting it for anyone willing to pay.
  • It will never happen (Score:3, Informative)

    by ahess247 (209933) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:22AM (#4328131) Homepage
    I've chimed in on this myself with the following story on Forbes.com:
    Will Apple Put Intel Inside?
    August 9, 2002
    Rumors are buzzing that Apple computers may one day be stamped "Intel Inside." It won't happen.
    http://www.forbes.com/2002/08/09/0809apple.html
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:29AM (#4328221)
    I don't think a switch to x86 will happen for Apple, but if it did, WINE for OSX would be a huge win. By the time the switch is complete, WINE will be in a pretty highly usable state. This would really make the downside of using an Apple much smaller.

    Also, while the guy is right that the transition would be a big pain for the developers, in the long run it might make things easier for them, because most of them keep a seperate branch of x86-optimized code because they also sell it for Windows. Post-transition, these two branches would be able to have much more in common. That might make things easier in the long run.

    Alright--here is a reason for not making the transition: the upcoming desktop Power4's from IBM. I am almost certain these will be in Macs sometime in 2003, and when they are, most of our beige pc keyboards will be covered with drool.

An authority is a person who can tell you more about something than you really care to know.

Working...