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Pentium-Based Macs The Future of Apple?

Hemos posted about 12 years ago | from the but-what-about-my-pretty-new-tibook-to-be? dept.

Apple 817

seek3r writes "Found this interesting article on 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?"

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still a mac (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326938)

it's still a shitty computer, with a crappy os that doesn't run anything

Re:still a mac (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326946)

i'll bite your troll sir. OS X can run just about any *nix app nowadays. so stop your stupid FUD charade

Ouch! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327013)

Don't bite my troll! Be tender with it.

This will be only be rumors.. (2, Troll)

fault0 (514452) | about 12 years ago | (#4326943)

when the G4 comes out... Apple has too much of a commitment to Motorola (since 1982?) and IBM (since 1992?)

Do you mean the G5??? (4, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | about 12 years ago | (#4326984)

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

Let me take a guess? (3, Interesting)

pVoid (607584) | about 12 years ago | (#4326950)

Palladium/TCPA/DRM support?

Re:Let me take a guess? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326989)

Damn! you beat me to it.
-1 (Redundant) this one please.

Re:Let me take a guess? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327028)

if TCPA becomes law, the law will not just specify x86 chips, apple's chips would have to comply too

Re:Let me take a guess? (5, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | about 12 years ago | (#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.

Lack of competition (4, Insightful)

BgJonson79 (129962) | about 12 years ago | (#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.

You get your tech news from business week? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326954)

This is an old rumor. It won't happen. Let it rest.

OSX on our PCs, of course! (1, Flamebait)

lburdet (552112) | about 12 years ago | (#4326958)

basically it'll mean we won't have to pay exaggerated prices for Macs to be able to use OS X!!

Re:OSX on our PCs, of course! (5, Informative)

dex22 (239643) | about 12 years ago | (#4327002)

There is a world of difference between using an x86 processor, and using an x86-based PC. I suspect Apple has closely investigated hooking up an x86-64 (or two ;) to a custom motherboard/infrastructure that would solve many of the interrupt/expansion complexities of PCs. For example, they could adopt HyperTransport, which would make multiprocessing affordable, easy to design around and most of all, leading edge, which is important to some people. Remember, Apple is expert at getting a lot out of a little - it would not surprise me if they tied a Hammer to a custom motherboard and created a whole new architecture. And that wouldn't be a bad thing.

Never happen (5, Insightful)

sql*kitten (1359) | about 12 years ago | (#4327042)

basically it'll mean we won't have to pay exaggerated prices for Macs to be able to use OS X!!

You will never see MacOS X running on a generic x86 "beige box". Apple developed MacOS X for the sole purpose of selling hardware, that's where they make all their money, despite charging for Jaguar. (Sun are the same with Solaris). In addition, the "just works" ability touted as a major Mac selling point would cease to happen once they could not guarantee with any certainty exactly what hardware their OS was running on - this is the real problem faced by Microsoft, most Windows crashes boil down to needing to have drivers for every conceivable piece of hardware supported, and being unable to prove them all.

An x86 based Mac will have sufficient custom hardware on its motherboard that you will still only be able to run MacOS on Apple hardware.

Re:OSX on our PCs, of course! (3, Insightful)

thryllkill (52874) | about 12 years ago | (#4327043)

Just having an Intel chip inside of it will not make it an open platform. I seriously doubt Apple will go to an open hardware platform as that would completely destroy their "it just works" reputation, and they would become just another OS vendor. No, the chip might become Intel, but the hardware will still be closed and proprietary.

Re:OSX on our PCs, of course! (1)

68k geek (573999) | about 12 years ago | (#4327047)

it would not surprise me if they tied a Hammer to a custom motherboard and created a whole new architecture. And that wouldn't be a bad thing.
It'll cost twice as much, but no, it wouldn't be a bad thing... ;-)

Re:OSX on our PCs, of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327053)

Don't think that just because it runs on an intel cpu that OS X will run on commodity hardware. There are, and have been in the past, vendors who use Intel x86 processors that are in no way standard, or even close to standard.
(Sequent, for instance)

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter what CPU apple uses. As long as it's quick enough to get the job done.

MacOS X, should be pretty portable, as it's "father" OS ran on 6 different platforms (HP, Sun, Intel, and NeXT hardware, and as an API and Human Interface on NT and Solaris).

Re:OSX on our PCs, of course! (2)

analog_line (465182) | about 12 years ago | (#4327061)

You'll have to pay Apple's prices. IF this happens, and it's a gigantic mother of all ifs, Apple will put boot roms on the motherboards just like they do with the PPC motherboards they use in the Macs shipping today.

There are commodity PPC motherboards out there, but none of them can run OS X, since there isn't the boot ROM the OS requires.

Re:OSX on our PCs, of course! (2, Informative)

68k geek (573999) | about 12 years ago | (#4327098)

There are commodity PPC motherboards out there

name one. and no, the 500$+ AmigaOne mobo (G3 @ 600Mhz) isn't it.

Re:OSX on our PCs, of course! (2, Informative)

Alan Partridge (516639) | about 12 years ago | (#4327091)

yep, then Apple would have to start charging $399 for their OS instead of the $125 that it costs at the moment, they'd bankrupt two thirds of their developers, they'd crucify their installed base and they'd be in open, head to head competition with Microsoft without a version of MS Office to offer their clients. Yes, I'm sure it would be a great idea...

Yeah, like that'll happen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326959)

what'r the odds of pentium based macs from apple?
they wouldn't use a pentium, because then they have to compete on price with dell/gateway/hpq

Oh and.... another FP for the ACs!

64 Bit PowerPC? (5, Funny)

peterdaly (123554) | about 12 years ago | (#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.


APPLE & IBM 64-bit PPC Article (5, Informative)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | about 12 years ago | (#4326980)

Here's a link to eWeek [] 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 ... (2, Informative)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 12 years ago | (#4326992)

Here is the page [] 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.

Re:Here it is ... (2, Funny)

jimhill (7277) | about 12 years ago | (#4327083)

"until something materializes everything is FUD."

Methinks you misunderstand "FUD". It's not at all synonymous with "vapor".

Re:64 Bit PowerPC? (1)

zudo (307075) | about 12 years ago | (#4327024)

Tee hee, you mean the one linked to in the Apple sidebar?

here []

Re:64 Bit PowerPC? (1)

DesScorp (410532) | about 12 years ago | (#4327153)

Just read that article in Eweek. The chip will be called GPUL, and it's due next summer. Planned clock speeds will be up to 2 gigs. There's supposed to be Linux support as well.

Pentium? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326963)

I don't see much of a future for this if it's Pentium-based. I mean, come on... Intel is up to the Pentium 4 now. Why would anyone put out a brand new product based on the Pentium?

Re:Pentium? (3, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 12 years ago | (#4327064)

I don't see much of a future for this if it's Pentium-based. I mean, come on... Intel is up to the Pentium 4 now. Why would anyone put out a brand new product based on the Pentium?

Divide different.

Re:Pentium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327066)

ha ha ha.


Maybe it's not so bad... (0)

The_Lightman (568612) | about 12 years ago | (#4326968)

in the end, what makes macs different is the os, not the hardware. Let's face it, a p4 2.8GHz mac would prolly be much better, and much cheaper, than a 1GHz G4 mac... Not to mention the fact that this could open up to a lot more hardware upgreadability for the macs. Lots of gfx cards, lots of sound cards, lots of other neat peripherals....

Re:Maybe it's not so bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326993)

Lots of it won't run on the computer 'cuz there are no drivers for it on the MacOS, or crappy drivers if they do exist.

Re:Maybe it's not so bad... (1)

The_Lightman (568612) | about 12 years ago | (#4327016)

OS drivers will come. Just remember that osx is way more similar to *nix than macos. It shouldn't be much harder to write a driver for osx than it is for, say, linux or bsd...

Re:Maybe it's not so bad... (1)

The_Lightman (568612) | about 12 years ago | (#4327039)

Oh, and, btw, I know that GHz to GHz the G4 is prolly much better than the P4... But it is more expensive, too. Let's face it, the G4 is a great microprocessor, but it's too expensive, it, and the sorrounding chipset/architecture...

Re:Maybe it's not so bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327136)

the word is PROBABLY you stupid stupid kunt

Re:Maybe it's not so bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327060)

You're right... it's the OS that makes Macs different.

That and the hardware.

Re:Maybe it's not so bad... (1)

Myrcurial (26138) | about 12 years ago | (#4327082)

re: hardware upgradeability -

You can already plug a PCI card into a tower Mac, the physical interface isn't the problem, the architecture of the main processor isn't the problem. The problem is the lack of driver support. Solve the driver issue and you automatically solve the "lots of..." issue.

Re:Maybe it's not so bad... (0)

The_Lightman (568612) | about 12 years ago | (#4327131)

Prolly yes. That's why I'm waiting to see the first drivers under osx. As I already stated in my other post, osx is a much better platform to develop drivers for than macos. Nevertheless, the cpu architecture is still a limiting factor, imho. With a x86 cpu you can reuse the same code you've been using for the, say, linux driver as part as the osx driver. This doesn't (unless you're using a high level language to develop the driver) hold true if the cpu is a g4, or a g3, or whatever...

Re:Maybe it's not so bad... (2, Insightful)

danrik (568865) | about 12 years ago | (#4327130)

Not true -
The OS is quite different, you are correct - but the thing that gives macs their amazing stability over PCs is that they control the hardware that goes into them....

This means that they can develop their OS to run on a limited hardware set, and they don't have to design their OS to deal with shoddy 3rd party device drivers.

Your assertion that this would lead to decreased costs and increased upgradeability is just wrong too -- most of Apple's revenue stream is based on hardware sales. If they were to switch to a Pentium solution, I guarantee (as the article mentions) that they would likely have some sort of mechanism built into the OS that would make it run on only on Apple branded and approved hardware..... Need I remind you that this is the company that modified its DVD burning software to run only on Apple branded DVD-R drives?

The Future Of Apple (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326973)

is bleak.

Hasn't this already been discussed to death? (1)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | about 12 years ago | (#4326982)

It's not going to happen, Apple would lose too much control. They may move on to another chip maker (IBM perhaps?) but they will stay PPC.

Have Motorola's chips really lagged behind Intel? (5, Insightful)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | about 12 years ago | (#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.

Re:Have Motorola's chips really lagged behind Inte (1)

The_Lightman (568612) | about 12 years ago | (#4327076)

Sure the G4 architecture is probably much better than the P4's...

The problem is the cost. The PA-RISC has a great architecture, and a great performance/clock ratio, so has the Alpha. The problem is that both these chips are damn expensive. The same holds true for the G4. Don't underestimate the cost factor. I'd really like to have a mac, I love the G4, but it's way too high a price/performance ratio.

Re:Have Motorola's chips really lagged behind Inte (5, Informative)

sql*kitten (1359) | about 12 years ago | (#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.

Re:Have Motorola's chips really lagged behind Inte (3, Interesting)

simpl3x (238301) | about 12 years ago | (#4327114)

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.


Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327121)

Go to your local Apple store and use one of the shiny new dual 1ghz powermacs. Then proceed to compusa and use the not so shiny p4 2.8 and tell me you dont notice the difference.

Whether it is the hardware of software, OSX is slow on the newest high end apple computers! I might agree with you about x86 based systems but Apple system need the speed.

Re:Have Motorola's chips really lagged behind Inte (1)

jidar (83795) | about 12 years ago | (#4327140)

Nice spin, but what you're essentially say is "yes, they are way behind.".

Of course they've been generally slower at most things for a long time, but there was always enough leeway to argue. Now the difference is so big not even the most adamant 'fanboy' can deny it.

Re:Have Motorola's chips really lagged behind Inte (1)

68k geek (573999) | about 12 years ago | (#4327155)

interesting... when the PPC was faster then x86 (~4 years ago?) mac users couldn't stop bitching about how slow the PC is, and how everyone should move to the mac since it's *so* much faster.... and now it's "speed doesn't matter, shiny cases does!"

Yes, Motorola has been lagging (0)

fliptw (560225) | about 12 years ago | (#4326988)

And thats true. But, one must consider this: its a perfect oppurtunity for MS to cozy up to Apple again - to get Apple on its DRM concepts and patents to ensure that OS X is run on and runs only Apple approve hardware.

Probably just a ploy.... (4, Interesting)

z84976 (64186) | about 12 years ago | (#4326994)

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...)

Re:Probably just a ploy.... (4, Interesting)

robbieduncan (87240) | about 12 years ago | (#4327147)

Apple do not have a single CPU supplier. Motorola supply the G4s and IBM supply the G3s used in the iBook. There was some talk a while ago that Apple might get IBM to manufacture some Morotola designed G4s as well.

Old news (0)

not_a_real_person (610455) | about 12 years ago | (#4327006)

This is ancient news, has had several editorials and stories about it... even a poll about what CPU Apple should switch to. Slashdot seems to be about 2 or 3 weeks behind the rest of the world nowadays :)

Not AGAIN! (3, Informative)

Logic Bomb (122875) | about 12 years ago | (#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. (5, Funny)

Wakko Warner (324) | about 12 years ago | (#4327008)

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.

Mac OS/X on x86 makes a lot of sense (3, Insightful)

eyefish (324893) | about 12 years ago | (#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. []

IBM GPUL is the latest rumor (3, Interesting)

derch (184205) | about 12 years ago | (#4327017)

Sorry, that rumor is two weeks old. The latest rumor is that Apple will go with IBM's 64 bit GPUL [] . This is also inline with rumors from earlier this year that said OS X would go 64 bit soon.

BSD did it. (2)

randomErr (172078) | about 12 years ago | (#4327022)

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.

Has Motorolla really fallen behind? Unfortunately. (5, Insightful)

bluemilker (264421) | about 12 years ago | (#4327023)

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?

What about the UltraSparc??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327032)

Sun's got great hardware architecture, and they were the first guys out there with a decent 64 bit Unix. They also have a better proven track record when it comes to multiple CPUs.

IBM ALMOST chose the 68000 for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327034)

And to think, IBM ALMOST chose the 68000 chip for the original IBM PC. *sigh*

Intel vs Moto (1, Informative)

Alomex (148003) | about 12 years ago | (#4327037)

Have Motorola's chips really lagged behind Intel?

The short answer is no.

A while back while I was making the argument for the switch to Intel (Pentium or Itanium) I went back and plotted the performance ratio between Moto and Intel and it has held steady around 2x Mhz since 1989.

Re:Intel vs Moto (1)

jackbang (572339) | about 12 years ago | (#4327157)

I went back and plotted the performance ratio between Moto and Intel and it has held steady around 2x Mhz since 1989.

Where did you get the data to plot this? Can you give us a link to that data and the methodology used for the comparison? Maybe then we could all elevate this debate above "is not/is too."

You will NEVER see Mac's with Pentiums (3, Insightful)

NerdSlayer (300907) | about 12 years ago | (#4327040)

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.

Re:You will NEVER see Mac's with Pentiums (1, Insightful)

benogod (223505) | about 12 years ago | (#4327139)

MS has an equity stake in Apple. Mac IE and Mac Office will continue regardless of arch. Apple has been directly challenging MS with their "Switcher" add campaign for sometime now and nothing but updates for MS products have been released. Unfortunatly you have to think of MS as "behind the curtain" in some of Apples moves.
The last time I checked, my Mac was a whole lot more than an "expensive linux box" and my Linux box made a much better server than my Mac will ever be. So differences will remain in that aspect.

Not again (0, Offtopic)

masonbrown (208074) | about 12 years ago | (#4327041)

How many times to people have to bring up this tired, talked-to-death speculation?

Problems Ahead! (2, Interesting)

e8johan (605347) | about 12 years ago | (#4327044)

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.

Re:Problems Ahead! (2)

windex (92715) | about 12 years ago | (#4327138)

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.

Well (2)

Mr_Silver (213637) | about 12 years ago | (#4327045)

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.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327105)

that was andrew neff, and his hp/compaq merger bit was more like five _months_ ago not five years ago.

x86 Mac is NOT a PC, RTFA (1, Redundant)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | about 12 years ago | (#4327046)

An x86 Mac does not imply a PC clone. Apple can have it's complete proprietary design and merely redesign it around an x86 rather than a G3/G4. Best of both worlds this way, more marketable CPUs (GHz, price, brand name recognition, more developers/tools, etc) and it's hardware sales and quality (no cheap flaky clones) are still protected.

I rather not have Intel. (1, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | about 12 years ago | (#4327048)

I never liked CISC Prossors, I much rather have RISC chips running my systems. I find that RISC chip run smoother then CISC do. Basicly I dont see any real advantage for apple to really switch to Intel. Their Systems wont be cheaper, you wont get OS X to run on your PC Box. I dought that there will be much of a noticable speed increase. I like the earler roomers of the 64 Bit Power PC Prosessor or an Ultra Sparc chip. So if Apple goes to Intell I guess my Next system will be an other Sun WorkStation.

Re:I rather not have Intel. (3, Informative)

bluemilker (264421) | about 12 years ago | (#4327078)

The RISC vs CISC argument is all-but dead in the water by now. x86 chips are only CISC in the loosest sense of the word, for backwards-compatibility. They all run internal mini-RISC chips that convert CISC commands to RISC sequences via microcode.

Re:I rather not have Intel. (1)

pll178 (544842) | about 12 years ago | (#4327107)

At the core of Intel and AMD's chips is a RISC processor. They just have instruction translators from CISC to RISC. So technically, both AMD and Intel make RISC processors.

Re:I rather not have Intel. (5, Funny)

Tim Browse (9263) | about 12 years ago | (#4327127)

I never liked CISC Prossors, I much rather have RISC chips running my systems. I find that RISC chip run smoother then CISC do.

Yes, I hate it when you can tell that an x86's tappets need adjusting just by listening to it.

RISC chips are so much more turquoise, too.


Re:I rather not have Intel. (2)

sql*kitten (1359) | about 12 years ago | (#4327137)

I never liked CISC Prossors, I much rather have RISC chips running my systems. I find that RISC chip run smoother then CISC do

Run smoother? What the hell does that mean?

Welcome to the new millenium (3, Informative)

TobyWong (168498) | about 12 years ago | (#4327141)

The whole RISC vs CISC argument is completely outdated. There is no such thing as pure CISC anymore. Please get with the times. You may love mac and that's fine but at least use up to date reasons for why mac is superior to pc. That's about as bad as a PC user dumping on macs "cause they only have one mouse button".

AMD ? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327056)

I think if Apple were going to go the X86 route it would make more sense to move to X86-64 than use a P4, It would probably be easier to sell to the Apple zealots if it wasn't an Intel chip as well.

Anyway, when Amiga releases it's new hardware......

Please god no! (1)

shplorb (24647) | about 12 years ago | (#4327058)

This is probably the reason the new G4 towers are dual-CPU, but perhaps Motorola or whoever does the PPC chips Apple use are secretly working on a new chip that will blitz everything.

Now, speaking from my limited experience with OS X (only had my iBook for a couple of months) I suppose that with bundles a move to x86 would be seamless to the user, provided x86 binaries are included in the bundle.

The main reason I hope Apple don't switch to x86 is because PPC is different (different is good) and frankly, x86 is a fucked up architecture - it's a 20+ year old architecture that's been kludged over and over.

Now, I shall return to playing with my iBook. =]


davechen (247143) | about 12 years ago | (#4327065)

Not another Mac OS on PC's story. Ain't gonna happen. Trying to emulate a PPC on a x86 would be painfully slow, so you wouldn't be able to run old software. And, I think it would kill software development on Macs. Developers would say, why should I support a Mac version of my app when they are using PC's anyways? Just boot into Windows.

Also, why bother to port to a 32-bit architecture? 64 is right around the corner, you might as well aim for the future, not the past.

Anyways Apple is gonna use IBM's Power4 derivative [] , and it's gonna kick ass!

Doubt it (1)

Lysol (11150) | about 12 years ago | (#4327067)

The bottom line is people will pay for Mac hardware. And that means non-Intel chips (whatever they may be) at whatever price,as long as they're somewhat competitive in the price arena.

OS X is just a delivery for Apple's real cash cow - hardware. They have no reason to 'switch'. Also, with PPC, they prob have a lot of say, since they're pretty much the only company using them, in what goes into the architecture, etc. With Intel, no way. Esp. with the recent trusted computing stuff going on.

Nope, Apple will stay non-Intel. They don't have to worry about cheaper chips cuz the end users will always pick up the tab.

It's not about the chips. (1)

c13v3rm0nk3y (189767) | about 12 years ago | (#4327068)

Macs aren't necessarily about the chips inside. The G4's go fast enough for the tasks the box was intended to run. Macs are about the OS, and making sure the things you plug into the box work without a hundred install-reboot-blue screen cycles. Macs are about a lot of things, least of which is the chipset it is based on.

Sure, you can never have a fast enough chip, and Apple can choose whatever chipset they want to run Mac OS. Will it make a difference in terms of what makes a Mac, a Mac?

I just don't see how.

Uhm, no. (3, Insightful)

Thalin (130318) | about 12 years ago | (#4327070)

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.

Not Likely (1)

ebuck (585470) | about 12 years ago | (#4327072)

Apart from Apple's "rumored" port of OSX to x86 architecture, there's little chance of this happening.

Apple makes it's money from the hardware it sells, not from the OS. That's why the move to OSX was a bit of genious. Now they have dramatically reduced their OS costs, but their OS sale price was always around $100.

Now if they had to buy x86 from Intel, that would cripple their big revenue stream; hardware. Apple has had a history of hardware innovation (SCSI, Fire-Wire...) I just can't imagine they're seriously considering dumping what they do best.

Look at the x86 market. How many people are pushing the high end hardware? Not many. x86 is all about big CPU's mated to low end subsystems.

DTP'ers won't like it (1)

cpt.haddock (611070) | about 12 years ago | (#4327074)

The DTP community won't like it because they're so proud that they're not using Intel clone's

2003 is going to be rough for apple (5, Insightful)

banky (9941) | about 12 years ago | (#4327087)

This article [] 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? (3, Insightful)

nizo (81281) | about 12 years ago | (#4327097)

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 "perception" (2)

eyefish (324893) | about 12 years ago | (#4327104)

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.

Yeah right, that'll happen anytime soon. (1)

lweinmunson (91267) | about 12 years ago | (#4327106)

The week after we hear of Apple trying to aquire the Altivec technology so that they can license it to IBM for G5 we hear yet another rumor that they are moving straight to x86. They haven't even gotten people to finish porting to OSx yet and you think they're going to force a port to a whole new architecture? Force every Mac user to choose between the old compatible version (again) and the new x86 one? They proved long ago that they could port Darwin to x86. Now who's going to force developers over. It may happen in 3 or 4 years when everybody has forgotten about the 9x to OSx port, but that would be one sure way to loose any market share they currently have with the developer community.

Pentium-Based Macs The Future of Apple? (5, Funny)

Typingsux (65623) | about 12 years ago | (#4327108)

My opinion is they would be taking a big Risc doing so.

Oh wait, they would be taking it out.

I'm confused

Will it be easy for intel? (1)

abhikhurana (325468) | about 12 years ago | (#4327109)

I guess this transition should be easy enough for Intel. One thing is sure that apple will expect a Microprocessor which is not availaible generally in the market. The reason is that once you get an intel chip, you can put it in any intel compatible motherboard and voila, you have a low cost mac, which also runs windows.
That means that apple will require some special version of the chip, which probably OS X will check( maybe a hardware register or someting like this, or maybe the palladium technology) and only then it will run on that microprocessor. But what prevents people from running Windows on it as well? Would apple allow that to happen? I dont think apple would like to do that.
But to prevent that means that the CPU architecture has to be changed to suite apple. Now the question is that will intel do that??

Excellent example (mod flamebait and offtopic) (2)

teamhasnoi (554944) | about 12 years ago | (#4327119)

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...

Is it just me? (1)

FuzzzyLogik (592766) | about 12 years ago | (#4327120)

or does everyone else wish that apple would just say what they're looking into and what they're not looking into? and possibly why they are or are not looking into said type of processor? What little knowledge I have of apple is that they are quite secretive up until boiling point. This could of course hurt their sales so i could understand why. But we've already had comfirmation of a x86 version of OS X, so wouldn't it seem more likely they'd go to this than something out of the ordinary? Think of it this way, they probably have 2 versions of OS X, PPC and x86, if anything falls through with IBM, it'll most definately be x86 for the future. Since from what I know, Motorola and IBM are the only PPC chip manufactures, correct? I don't think they'd try to port it to more than 2 architectures, seems illogical and time consuming.


still not cheap.... (5, Insightful)

Angron (127881) | about 12 years ago | (#4327124)

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.


Maybe this is redundant, (4, Informative)

KH (28388) | about 12 years ago | (#4327125)


From the article:

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


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.

Old article, which resurfaces every 32 months... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327143)

Competing head to head with M$? That'd be stupid.

P.S. I heard the Beatles were getting back together, too!

Costs (2, Insightful)

totallygeek (263191) | about 12 years ago | (#4327144)

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.

Ugh--Please stop posting this story every week (5, Informative)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | about 12 years ago | (#4327148)

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.

Hear say (2)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 12 years ago | (#4327154)

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 [] 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.

DTP crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327160)

buch of snobs and elitists using 3 year old hardware. ok guys, give quark a hug they'll come trough. shure

Maybe I'm pointing out the obvious (1)

Yuioup (452151) | about 12 years ago | (#4327167)

If I understand it correctly:

  • OS/X will eventually run on a Pentium which is specifically tailor made for Apple in order to keep up with the competition
  • for stability's sake, they're not going to allow it to run on PC clones, because they're not in the mood to test OS/X on a vast permutation of hardware setups.

So... what advantage does OS/X have over Windows? Windows runs on just about every hardware setup imaginable - it took years for Microsoft to get this far. Same goes for Linux. Thanks to its open source nature, you can run Linux on a lot of hardware combinations. But OS/X can eventually only run on an Apple Pentium which is outdated the moment it comes out. Hmmm.

So that means that the only appeal of OS/X is its GUI?


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