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Will MacIntel Hardware Open The Door for Mac OS X CAD?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the new-niches-for-exploitation dept.

OS X 126

xcleetusx wonders: "I've been a fan of Apple for years, and with their current strangle-hold on mainstream media my desire to make the switch has been growing ever more, but the same nagging issue that has prevented my switch for years still remains: I'm an engineer, and I simply can't invest in a computer that won't run modeling/simulation software like CATIA and Solidworks. Since this software is available on Unix (which Mac OS X is built on) and also on Windows (Intel hardware), is the Apple switch to Intel-based hardware going to better my chances for a Mac OS X CAD workstation, or will it remain a pipedream?"

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126 comments

f1rst! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13792412)

YIKES!

Only hope lies in increased popularity. (4, Insightful)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792425)

Hopefully the switch means increased popularity which will lead to more support from venders. I'm an engineering student (ece) so i don't usually deal with cad and solid works but i deal with other stuff like spice and vhdl. Luckily eagle comes for os x.

Biggest complaint though is that most software that is "ported" uses X11. It's quite nasty.

Re:Only hope lies in increased popularity. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792570)

X11 is not nasty. X11 can be extraordinarily elegant, and efficient, in ways which CAD users can appreciate.

Re:Only hope lies in increased popularity. (1)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792894)

Running two concurrent windowing systems, regardless of the properties of either system, is hardly elegant.

Re:Only hope lies in increased popularity. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793004)

oh, really? some sort of problem with that, when you're designing multi-million $ stuff, is not gonna deter someone from doing it if thats the way it'll get the app in front of them ..

Re:Only hope lies in increased popularity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13793730)

Your declaration has nothing to do with the point you're responding to. "oh really?" indeed.

Re:Only hope lies in increased popularity. (5, Interesting)

Mattcelt (454751) | more than 8 years ago | (#13796104)

X11 is not nasty.

On OSX it is. In fact, it's the antithesis of everything the Mac UI stands for - it's clunky, enigmatic, and difficult for people who aren't familiar with it to troubleshoot.

My girlfriend gave up on using openoffice altogether because of X11.

While I don't argue X11's potential, its implementation on OSX leaves much to be desired.

Apple's plan is to gain marketshare through piracy (2, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#13795940)

Hopefully the switch means increased popularity which will lead to more support from venders.

The switch will mean OS X will be easily pirated. Apple's whole plan is predicated on something Microsoft has known for years: piracy = marketshare. No matter how you slice it, people who otherwise wouldn't have bought an apple machine will download and install this on some machine or another, even just "because they can". Apple knows this.

When they release OS X for x86, you can expect a huge jump in marketshare from the current ~2%, simply because people will be torrenting this thing like crazy. (as if they aren't already)

Re:Only hope lies in increased popularity. (1)

atropos_jr (923092) | more than 8 years ago | (#13797229)

Yea.... hope it helps. I really struggling in Windoz, with Pro/E and AutoCAD. BTW, Matlab in X11 works wonderful, I m loving it, quite understand that and not that bad :D.

Say it with me (4, Interesting)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792454)

Developers Developers Developers Developers!

Since Mac OS X will use a Darwin (Unixish) on x86, it will not be very hard to port your standard CAD programs to run natively in OSX. Mostly it depends on the demand in the market. If a lot of users start asking the CAD software developers for a port to OSX, it will probably happen. Short of that, your best bet may be Darwine or X11 for OSX. Using one of these may allow you to run standard CAD software without it actually being ported (don't hold your breath for Darwine, though).

Re:Say it with me (3, Interesting)

ebooher (187230) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792719)

don't hold your breath for Darwine, though

Why not? Besides the fact that you'll pass out, fall down, and start breathing again. The only thing really holding up Darwine is the emulation of the processor being tied to the API's. You have to get an x86 emu installed, tweaked, then install something that's not always entirely stable to begin with on top of something else not entirely stable.

The original post is asking how the move to Intel will affect CAD software. I say any CAD software that is written for a *NIX on x86 will appear very quickly on MacTel. WINE, being what it is, will probably be available for MacTel on day 2. They will no longer need to emulate the x86 hardware, it's already there.

In fact, I predict someone in the Open Source community will completely side step the issue anyway and develop a Mac-On-Linux (MOL) like system "hole." MOL allows Mac Linux users to continue to run Mac OS X within Linux by giving it control of the underlying hardware resources. Better than Virtual PC, and probably what the Virtual Server product Microsoft is talking about does. I also know there is something on Linux (that I've never used so don't remember) that allows something similar in running multiple Linux instances on a single hardware set.

What ever bad things the MacTel moves brings with it, the good is in the instant tripling of software that will be available. Whether it be through WINE, or WOM (Windows-On-Mac) (hey ... WOMBAT ... now what can the BAT stand for), or Virtual PC, or straight up multi-booting. MacTel is looking good.

If nothing else, I regularly SSH into a linux machine next to my current PPC Mac and push programs to it via the X11 protocols. This won't change no matter what the underlying hardware is, so worse case scenario is two machines. One Mac desktop and One Massive *NIX box. (I'm thinking rack mounted Solaris might be fun) and you're set. The great thing about networking is you don't need to run *everything* native. Let something else do the work and push the visual to you through ethernet.

But everyone here already knew that, right?

Re:Say it with me (1)

the phantom (107624) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793090)

wom.bat ?

WOM is not possible. (1)

Inoshiro (71693) | more than 8 years ago | (#13796256)

Not yet, anyways.

MOL works because the G3/4/5 are fully virtualizable. You can trap any instruction you want, allowing you to properly virtual an OS within another OS.

x86 is not the same way. VMWare solves this by doing some really nasty tricky stuff. It's not an easy problem by far, and the performance would suck balls because you have to check all the code before it's executed, slowing everything a whole lot.

Sure, if you want to use virtual PC programs (4, Insightful)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792460)

is the Apple switch to Intel-based hardware going to better my chances for a MacOS CAD workstation
Maybe. The software of which you speak is less dependent on the processor than it is on the Windows or UNIX API that is being used. Your best bet is to write a letter to the software company indicating that you want a native MacOS port.

What might happen that could help you is that virtual PC programs will be able to run MS Windows at near full speed since it'll be running on the same processor that Windows is written for. So you should be able to run a virtual PC program with Windows and your CAD apps on your Mac.

Re:Sure, if you want to use virtual PC programs (2, Informative)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794762)

My understanding is that CAD software has a lot of processor specific opitizations. There lies one of the biggest problems with porting. A move to x86 will certainly help with porting.

Re:Sure, if you want to use virtual PC programs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13799548)

My understanding is that CAD software has a lot of processor specific opitizations.

Don't count on it. A lot of the serious maths is farmed out to external libraries. Those libraries are often highly portable. Given the inherent complexity of many of the algorithms involved, and the frequency of new compiler/processor releases, there isn't really time to do much platform-specific optimisation work beyond setting sensible compiler options and the like.

Even if there was time to spend on micro-optimisation, it wouldn't help that much anyway. In this business, you usually count performance benefits in powers of N (where N is usually something like the number of geometric figures in a particular part of a model or the number of control points on a NURBS figure), or in orders of magnitude (typically where some new algorithm is developed to do some key processing), not the odd 10% speed up gained by micro-optimisation of a particular implementation of a particular algorithm on a particular platform with a particular compiler version.

Obviously I'm generalising somewhat. There's clearly a lot of scope for parallel processing on some platforms, for example, particularly as mainstream processors become multi-core by default, and serious CAD workstations come with multiple physical processors. Again, though, the interest is more in how readily parallelisable the algorithms are in this case than in using some particularly clever combination of MMX/SSE/whatever instructions to squeeze an extra 5% out of a particular build.

Just MHO, of course, and all opinions here are my own and do not represent those of any CAD software vendor, mathematical library vendor, tech pundit, CAD software user, or anyone else for that matter...

Best guess at this point (2, Insightful)

TimmyDee (713324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792483)

My best answers at this point are. . .

We can only hope.

-and-

We'll have to wait and see.

I'm a big user of GIS, and while I find GRASS to be a wonderful alternative to ESRI products, it's sometimes too much hassle to fire up GRASS, define a region, import files, etc., if all I want to do is edit a shapefile or query a feature. I do know about QGIS and other alternatives, but sometimes it would be nice if ArcGIS was ported to the Mac. Given the change in landscape over the past couple of years and changes yet to come (Intel, I'm looking at you), I think there's more probability of these sorts of things happening. They are, however, still possibilities. Until a company commits to producing their specialized software (CADD, GIS, etc.) for the Mac, or until there is an increased demand for Macs in such industries, we're still just speculating.

Now, if Apple manages to wedge their way into the server market with a killer Intel-based Xserve coupled with a low-cost Xserve RAID, we may see those pressures come from another side. Time will tell.

Good Ol' Grass (2, Funny)

fishmasta (827305) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792971)

I'm a big user of GIS, and while I find GRASS to be a wonderful alternative to ESRI products, it's sometimes too much hassle to fire up GRASS, define a region, import files, etc., if all I want to do is edit a shapefile or query a feature.

Well personally, I find grass to be a wonderful alternative to sobriety. It's never too much hassle for me to fire up grass.

Hardware OS (5, Insightful)

Florian (2471) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792491)

The switch to x86 doesn't change the API of MacOS X and hence won't magically give you Intel PC software. And if that software had been cross-API-compatible (via Qt, wxwidgets etc.), it could have been released for PPC-MacOS already.

The only thing that is likely to happen with Intel-Mac is that Windows Emulators - and hence Windows software - will run at nearly native speed.

Re:Hardware OS (1)

Youssef Adnan (669546) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792631)

At least, it will give MacOS X users a chance to use wine to run Windows applications. Applications linked against winelib don't have a problem - if they were built for PPC arch- but you can't use the wine binary itself to start Windows applications on non-Intel arch.

Re:Hardware OS (1)

dago (25724) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793071)

Something more interesting will be the ability to run x86 emulators (VMware, Xen, bochs) and have a full windows running at native speed. That should be much better than VirtualPC, and more flexible.

Re:Hardware OS (4, Insightful)

Eil (82413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793128)


The switch to x86 doesn't change the API of MacOS X and hence won't magically give you Intel PC software. And if that software had been cross-API-compatible (via Qt, wxwidgets etc.), it could have been released for PPC-MacOS already.

True.

The only thing that is likely to happen with Intel-Mac is that Windows Emulators - and hence Windows software - will run at nearly native speed.

Not strictly true. Everybody is concentrating so hard on the whole Windows emulator possibility that they're completely missing another benefit to x86 Macs that I'm personally looking forward to: Linux binary compatibility.

FreeBSD has had rock-solid Linux binary compatibility for years. Almost any executable compiled on and for Linux will run perfectly well on FreeBSD. Porting the Linux compatibility layer to Darwin is probably something that a skilled dev can do on a rainy weekend. And that's if it hasn't been done already. For x86 Mac users, this immediately opens the door to almost all programs built for Linux, both open and closed.

I say to the fellow who wants his CAD software on Mac: You'll probably waste your time pestering the vendor to release a native OSX version of the application. And WINE is unreliable at best, which x86 OSX won't change. What you want is to be able to run the Unix version of the app natively on your Mac and that's what Linux binary compatibility will do.

Re:Hardware OS (0)

Mr. Shiny And New (525071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793631)

But the apps compiled for Linux on MacOSX will need X to run; no X, no GUI. That will be a major stumbling block; likely if X is already available then the App vendor can just recompile the app for Mac OSX already.

Re:Hardware OS (2, Informative)

frankie (91710) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793871)

apps compiled for Linux on MacOSX will need X to run

You mean, like this [apple.com]?

if X is already available then the App vendor can just recompile the app for Mac OSX already

Except that it is, and they don't.

Re:Hardware OS (1)

usrusr (654450) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793708)

> And WINE is unreliable at best, which x86 OSX won't change.

x86 OSX will roughly double the wine user base, dunno how much difference that would make for wine development, but i'm sure it's more than nothing.

and another thing: companies that make applications for windows are used to target multiple (sometimes quite different) versions of that OS. agreed, "system requirements: windows 2000/XP/vista or wine vX.Y.Z or newer" does sound utopic, but not _that_ utopic.

Re:Hardware OS (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13796383)

What you want is to be able to run the Unix version of the app natively on your Mac and that's what Linux binary compatibility will do.

Yes, users want to run apps natively, but running from the command line or X Windows is not good enough.

To blend in with the system, it must look and feel like a Mac app , not only superficially. Users will expect such things as:

  • preferences stored in ~/Library, not in ~/.myCADPrefs
  • working drag-and-drop
  • working copy-paste
  • AppleScript support
  • The real standard file dialogs, font picker, color picker, etc, not a clone that almost looks and feels the same
  • a program that uses QuickTime where that makes sense, instead of bringing its own (de)compressor

In short: users want a Mac app. If they were happy running a Linux app, they would be running Linux already.

Re:Hardware OS (1)

Goo.cc (687626) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793296)

Florian is correct. The differences between Mac OS X and Windows is probably a bigger factor than the differences in PPC and x86 CPUs.

Re:Hardware OS (1)

usrusr (654450) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793749)

The differences between Mac OS X and Windows can be handled by an API layer like wine, the differences in PPC and x86 CPUs can be handled by CPU emulation like virtualPC. Both are complex tasks and likely to never reach perfection, but there is a huge performance in performance hit.

Re:Hardware OS (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794678)

The switch to x86 doesn't change the API of MacOS X and hence won't magically give you Intel PC software.

Right. But...

Virtual PC will run a whole lot faster.

Cooment not true: Re:Hardware OS (1)

Geist (19130) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794683)

This is not true of all sofwtare. For software that does a lot of math calculations, it may use code aoptimized for SSE2 etc. They may ahve an unix version for x86 linux/bsd, but not PPC. This version may even use a crospplatform AIP
like QT. Porting to macOS PPC would take a lot of rewriting. Getting it to run on xwindows on intel macOS might be trivial, as it's the SSE2 parts that are nonportable.

You assume that the software is windows. If it's unix for intel, theer should be little difficulty porting it.

RJL

No (5, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792502)

This is not complicated and I don't get why people find it so difficult to comprehend. Macs are still going to be Macs, with MacOS and Cocoa. There's going to be a chip inside with a different instruction set; everything upstream will be essentially identical.

MacOS is not going to magically turn into Windows or Linux just because there's Intel Inside. Mac development will be unchanged, with some marginal exceptions.

Re:No (2, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792710)

But it will make four things dramatically easier and more compelling.

1. Emulation
2. Porting
3. Games
4. Drivers

Emulation is obvious. Compare VMWare vs VirtualPC.

Porting isn't as obvious, but anything that takes advantage of, or relies on, features of the CPU (byte ordering and SSE/AltiVec are important).

Games, because they depend on the CPU, optimization, and video drivers.

Drivers, because now NVidia and ATI (for example) can leverage x86 optimizations on their Mac driver.

So, you're right in that it doesn't mean Google Earth or Counter-Strike are now just a recompile away from being full-fledged Mac programs, but the prospects for running more software on the Mac will benefit from the x86 move.

Another factor that will help, but is not really a technical aspect of the switch, is that it opens the door of the Mac to more people. If x86 Linux and Windows will run on a Mac natively, then more fence-sitters will be able to justify getting a Mac, which translates into more consumer demand for native Mac apps.

Re:No (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792896)

No, it means that less programs will be ported to Mac OS X, because Mac users can just run them on a Windows emulator.

Re:No (2, Interesting)

node 3 (115640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793913)

No, it means that less programs will be ported to Mac OS X, because Mac users can just run them on a Windows emulator.

"No" what? No, there won't be increased demand for OS X native software if there are more OS X users? No, there won't be more OS X users because they have the comfort-option of dumping OS X and running Windows? No, developers won't have a potentially easier time porting apps and such to x86 OS X than PPC OS X?

And you're a fool if you think fewer apps will be ported. Right now, very few apps are ported at all. None of those companies are going to *not* maintain their port. Adobe isn't going to say, "Well, just run the emulated Windows version".

Unlike OS/2 (which you *might* be thinking of), OS X will not come with Windows compatibility built-in. You'll have to buy that separately. So if a software publisher wants to target the Mac (which is more likely given more Mac users), they can't just rely on emulation.

Unlike OS/2, the Mac market in non-vertical environments is not insignificant.

Unlike OS/2, Mac native apps are significantly preferable to emulated apps.

Re:No (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794215)

Yes.

But if there is a Windows runtime/emulator/whatever-you-call-it, there will still be less native Mac versions. Count on it.

Re:No (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794795)

Yes.

But if there is a Windows runtime/emulator/whatever-you-call-it, there will still be less native Mac versions. Count on it.


You're saying that there will be fewer apps than there are now? That companies will tell potential customers to buy VMWare and Windows if they want to run their app? Especially as there are more and more Mac users?

It just doesn't follow.

Re:No (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 8 years ago | (#13795246)

Face it, this is capitalism. Why spend money on a Mac version, when you can just tell Mac users to buy your Windows version and emulate it at full speed. I never said it was smart, just that it would happen. Count on it.

Re:No (2, Interesting)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 8 years ago | (#13795638)

Why spend money on a Mac version, when you can just tell Mac users to buy your Windows version and emulate it at full speed.

Because developers who are interested in cross-platform sales already make Mac versions -- they know they'll lose customers if their app no longer has Aqua effects and built-in spell checking and other things Mac users expect.

Developers who don't do crossplatform, well, some of them will say "great, now I don't have to worry about it since they have VMware!", while others will say "great, now I can do cross-platform a lot easier!" I think in the end, more software will be developed for the Mac because the number of small developers who are curious will be much greater than the number of large companies that are trying to shave money from the budget.

And keep in mind the Mac, as it is now, is a niche market anyways. Companies don't need an excuse to stop developing for it if, they either find that they are making a lot of money from it or they go after the 90%+ that are running Windows.

Re:No (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 8 years ago | (#13797047)

First of all, cross-platform will not be "a lot easier", at best it will be a little bit easier.

2: Developers don't make decisions, managers do. They can save money , they will, even if it doesn't make economical sense. 80% of all managers are stupid and quarter result oriented.

Re:No (1)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 8 years ago | (#13795247)

That companies will tell potential customers to buy VMWare and Windows if they want to run their app?

Companies already do tell Mac users this and have for decades now. Microsoft even bundles VPC with certain versions of MS Office so that they can sell Visio and Project to Mac users without having to port it.

I have to agree with Lars T even though for some reason we're on each other's enemy lists. A well-integrated version of Virtual PC would look make the MacOS look (technically) a lot like OS/2, and we all know how that ended up. (However the marketing would be completely different.)

You also have to consider the enonomics. For a marginally popular package, it might be cheaper for the developer to give away copies of VirtualPC rather than port to Mac.

Re:No (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13793920)

What kind of Mac user is going to use an application that's been designed to Windows UI conventions, for a Windows audience? Answer: only the tasteless. And how many tasteless Mac users do you know?

Re:No (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794203)

Don't tell me, tell the people who will still decide that way because they can save money.

Re:No (2, Insightful)

am 2k (217885) | more than 8 years ago | (#13796691)

Well, when two different products are available, Mac-users will always pick the one that's more Mac-like, so who's going to be the one with more money in their pocket in the end?

Re:No (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 8 years ago | (#13797102)

Thanks for proving my point - managers are stupid. Why else would they not enter a small pond where they would be the only fish? No, they jump into the big pond with a hundred otheres - and a big shark.

Scientific Programming is HARD HARD HARD. (2, Interesting)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792858)


MacOS is not going to magically turn into Windows or Linux just because there's Intel Inside. Mac development will be unchanged, with some marginal exceptions.

I dunno, maybe this falls into the "marginal" category, but "scientific" [or "mathematical"] programming is really REALLY REALLY difficult.

For instance, take a gander at the list of FFTs catalogued at BenchFFT:

Then look at their relative performances for speed and accuracy:
In many instances, the software and hardware engineers at the companies that build the chips [Intel and AMD] can't write FFTs that are as efficient as third-party vendors [or hobbyists], which should be a pretty good indication that something as ostensibly straightforward as writing an FFT routine is just fantastically complicated in practice.

So if you're a company with a lot of low-level proprietary software that's tuned for the x86/x86-64 instructions sets, or for classical PCI bus communications [apparently PCIe is very backwards compatible], or for the nVidia/ATI/Oxygen instruction sets, then your porting job just got a heckuva lot easier if you don't have to deal with PPC RISC, Altivec, etc etc etc.

Re:Scientific Programming is HARD HARD HARD. (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793641)

I dunno, maybe this falls into the "marginal" category, but "scientific" [or "mathematical"] programming is really REALLY REALLY difficult.

That's *exactly* the sort of thing that I meant by "marginal".

IANACD (1)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793998)


That's *exactly* the sort of thing that I meant by "marginal".

I Am Not A CAD Developer [IANACD], and, for that matter, I Am Not Even A CAD User [IANEACU].

On the other hand, I know a fair amount about LabVIEW, which shares a great deal in common with CAD environments, and I know that National Instruments has a budding problem on their hands because their graphics package depends on OpenGL/MESA, and Microsoft looks to be deprecating support for it [slashdot.org].

But it would be interesting to hear from some CAD developers - do you write low-level stuff in-house, e.g. do you write triangles directly to the GPU, or do you purchase development environments [PIXAR, DirectX, OpenGL/Mesa, VRML, whatever] that perform the low-level translations for you?

No... under OS X (1)

ChibiOne (716763) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794459)

You may be right, in that the change of processor will not mean a magical porting of an application that was not previously ported to Cocoa under PPC. I agree with that. However, a Mac with an x86 processor may increase the probabilities of a user using it as a dual-boot system. So, you get to experience the wonders of OS X Tiger, and you keep to use your good ol' engineering software under Windows or Linux.

If it runs on unix under X11... (4, Insightful)

SSpade (549608) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792509)

...it'll run on OS X under X11 with fairly minimal porting effort today.

If the companies haven't made that port available then the (trivial, from an application developer point of view) change from PowerPC to x86 isn't going to change that.

It's all about size of market and differential pricing. Not the CPU that happens to be in the box.

Easiest question ever (1)

whitesaint (900065) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792514)

If you can run all your software on unix, you can run it on Mac OS X. Mac OS X has the Unix Window System X11/Free86 built in so all unix programs will run fine. And you can run Windows on Mac OS X, and the software will just work. Microsoft sells Virtual PC with their Pro Office Pack.

Re:Easiest question ever (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13795101)

"Mac OS X has the Unix Window System X11/Free86 built in so all unix programs will run fine."

Providing you have the source code compiled for the right processor and architecture.

Re:Easiest question ever (0)

atropos_jr (923092) | more than 8 years ago | (#13797255)

As I read those CAD software requirement, I bet the mean reason of no Mac OSX version is the Processor, most of them only support X86 CPU not PPC. (just guessing, cus I m not EE or CE guy). Just wonder if X11 run in X86, will it perfectly fit and don't need to re-compile it ?

Pipedream. (5, Informative)

sootman (158191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792533)

Programs run on operating systems, not CPUs. Your best chance is if the new Apple/Intel hardware dual-boots, or if Apple gains enough market share that CAD companies decide to start coding for them.

Re:Pipedream. (2, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792829)

I'm no expert, but it's been my understanding that some plenty of programs do, in fact, rely in some way on the processor architecture. Therefore, while porting applications from X11 on Linux on x86 to x11 on Linux on PPC is relatively easy, it does sometimes require some amount of work.

Therefore, (again, from what I understand) the Intel switch to x86 will make porting some Linux software to OSX slightly easier.

Not Exactly (2, Informative)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794014)

Programs run on operating systems, not CPUs.

Nope, they run on CPUs also. Operating systems do to. Operating systems and programs are both software. They both run on CPUs. The operating system schedules what programs get to run when, and when the OS itself runs, but everything happens on the CPU.

Now what you may have been trying to say is that programs are built to be run with certain operating systems, which would be correct.

Re:your sig (1)

acornboy (920113) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794469)

uhmm Shakespeare coined over 700 of those "old sayings" & words out of whole cloth, he just stuck the damn things in there and brazened it out. The fact that many of them are still around in our language attests to his creativity and chutzpah :)

Sorry, have to be anonymous here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13792655)

In one word: no.

In a few more words: only if Mactel effectively replaces Wintel as the "default" office platform (which I don't see happen any time soon). Yes, the office platform. Why do you think the migration of CAD software from commercial unices to Wintel happened? Not because Wintel is cheaper in and by itself, but because Wintel is cheaper than a SPARCstation to run your CATIA and a Wintel to run a certain office suite. Oh, and because schools today are teaching Windows under the guise of teaching computers, and your average graduate would be totally lost if placed in front of a SPARCstation. That's the two reasons, mainly. Mactel will not change either of them.

Happy now?

Re:Sorry, have to be anonymous here. (2, Insightful)

stevew (4845) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792951)

This doesn't stand up to the simplest of analysis. Consider that Wintel ISN'T the platform of choice for most if not all CAD software. The platform of choice 5 years ago was Solaris NOT NT/XP/etc.

The reason is practical and historical in nature. These applications needed more memory, stability, and horsepower than the average PC had. Many applications wanted to be in a 64 bit address space. None of the MS products supported this until very recently.

I don't need to bash MS with the above. MS products were more aimed at the home than the back server room from the beginning.

Only recently the perferred platform for these types of applications has become Linux on 64 bit Operterons. They all still support Solaris as well - though not Solaris x86 yet that I'm aware.

To address the original poster's question of whether these apps will become available on OS-X. I doubt it for two reasons. The first is that the hardware will still be sourced from Apple, therefore there will be an "Apple Hardware Tax" applied. The next issue is that as of today, OS-X is still a minor player in both the server space and the desk-top space. Only if this changes will vendors decide to begin supporting yet another OS (which has a cost to it -it's more than just compiling it to the new environment for a product to come into being!)

Re:Sorry, have to be anonymous here. (1)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793043)

"To address the original poster's question of whether these apps will become available on OS-X. I doubt it for two reasons. The first is that the hardware will still be sourced from Apple, therefore there will be an "Apple Hardware Tax" applied. The next issue is that as of today, OS-X is still a minor player in both the server space and the desk-top space. Only if this changes will vendors decide to begin supporting yet another OS (which has a cost to it -it's more than just compiling it to the new environment for a product to come into being!)"

Software developers do not pay a hardware tax for developing for OS X.

Minor player? by what criteria? market share? this is a specious way to look at being a player in niche industry segements. OS X dominates several niche spaces. Its not run of the mill, and there is an exageration of the PC share as with M$'s approach to licensing.

Vendors make the mistake of market share all the time. It now 6% of the US market, and growing at a 30% over the 8% of the pc world... and worlds ahead in its prowess. Just look at AutoDesk's "leaving money on the table" approach - since they won't make their software available to the Mac, they lose 40 million a year (and that is just VectorWorks!)

Re:Sorry, have to be anonymous here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13793506)

]]] OS X dominates several niche spaces.
Not those needed to sell CAD. When GM or Boeing switch to OSX, let's talk again. Sorry. Such companies are the place to make money from CAD sales.

]]] 6% of the US market, and growing at a 30%
Aggregate market figures are meaningless. No one cares about, you know, home/SOHO users.

Re:Sorry, have to be anonymous here. (1)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794167)

as if you opinion here is actually driving the market... this is not about home users either. Major finanacial instituions i consult for are all OS X. period. its a viable busienss platform, and being accepted at a record pace.

Boeing does not use PC for CAD

Re:Sorry, have to be anonymous here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13794660)

]]] Major finanacial instituions i consult for are all OS X. period. its a viable busienss platform
No doubt. I only wish there were more institutions like that. Wintel is a sad, sad reality that I have to deal with. I do CAD development for a living, just so you know. Just about anything is better than Wintel from my perspective, but stupid customers want Wintel-based "solutions".

]]] Boeing does not use PC for CAD
Um, I hope so :) NEW sales are something like 90% PC-based.

Re:Sorry, have to be anonymous here. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13793402)

]]] Consider that Wintel ISN'T the platform of choice for most if not all CAD software.
It is now.

]]] The platform of choice 5 years ago was Solaris
I know. That was 5 years ago and now is now.

]]] These applications needed more memory, stability, and horsepower than the average PC had.
The average PC still doesn't have that kind of horsepower. CAD isn't run on average PCs. They are Wintel PCs still. As for stability... a PC provides plenty stability if you only run your CAD and Office.

]]] Many applications wanted to be in a 64 bit address space.
Which is probably the only reason Unix versions are still made. But most people don't need 64 bits, and buy Windows versions.

]]] MS products were more aimed at the home than the back server room from the beginning.
Huh? What back server room? A CAD workstation sits on the engineer's desktop, not in any back server room.

]]] Come on now. Only recently the perferred platform for these types of applications has become Linux on 64 bit Operterons.
I see now. You must be confusing CAD software with something else, like movie rendering farms. No CAD software that I'm aware of runs on a 64-bit Linux. Maybe there's an unsupported version of CATIA that does, I'm not sure.

Re:Sorry, have to be anonymous here. (2, Insightful)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 8 years ago | (#13795324)


This doesn't stand up to the simplest of analysis. Consider that Wintel ISN'T the platform of choice for most if not all CAD software. The platform of choice 5 years ago was Solaris NOT NT/XP/etc.

You are full of shit. Which CAD environment are you talking about? Is it possibly within your own personal sphere of knowledge or are you referring to "real" CAD use as defined by reliance upon big iron?

The vast majority of CAD users are trundling along with 2D AutoCAD on WinTel systems and making do because the full transformation to 3D seems to require a bunch of IT jerks that would impede their productivity. You sound like one of those jerks.

Good news (3, Informative)

john82 (68332) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792718)

'm an engineer, and I simply can't invest in a computer that won't run modeling/simulation software like CATIA and Solidworks.

You do realize that Solidworks is available for OS X [apple.com], right?

Re:Good news (4, Informative)

ephex (898529) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792778)

you do realize that's just a viewer, right?

Re:Good news (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#13796560)

that's just a viewer

Bringing up the viewer is a major portion of the work in bringing the rest of the system to OS X. CAD vendors tend to have their own pile of rendering code that's redundant in these days of OpenGL, but their apps depend on these obsolete libraries.

-jcr

This is a good effort, but not CAD on OSX (2, Informative)

PotatoHead (12771) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793097)

This is a viewer application, it's on Linux too. One can see data created via Solidworks on a win32 PC, that's about it. Well, measure, etc...

Solidworks is about as closely married to the win32 API as one can get. They stated this goal early in their development process and have not deviated one iota.

The whole integrated deal will keep a lot of MCAD off of Mac and Linux for a very long time to come yet. Microsoft is very aggressive in this area, working with vendors closely to interlink CAD with Office. The combination is good, however it will remain win32 as well. (Sigh...)

The older cad packages, that still have UNIX versions, are more likely ports. We have PTC on Linux today, it's not too much of a stretch to see OSX --provided there is demand. That's what all the vendors what to see. Tell them and tell your friends to tell them.

Better: Inquire about their software, get them to do a demo, then tell 'em you need it on the Mac. As they walk out the door, know they will be carrying that information with them to their technical marketing people. --Those are the folks that need to be sold.

Don't say Mac up front either... just keep the discussion about CAD and needs. The assumption will be win32. (It always is) Then drop the Mac bomb on them.

Re:This is a good effort, but not CAD on OSX (1)

wayne606 (211893) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793346)

Exactly ... The *ONLY* reason there is not much CAD and Engineering Analysis software on Macs is that there is no demand. There's no demand because engineers don't work on Macs, and they don't work on Macs because there is no software. :-(

Porting any of these software packages to any given platform is as easy as any other, as long as you have Posix/X11/OpenGL available. Replace X11 with some other windowing system and then it's easy if you use a cross-platform toolkit like Tk or Wxwindows and moderately to very hard if you use Motif/Win32/something else nonportable. Similar for DirectX/OpenGL. But if there is money out there it will get done.

Two points: (3, Insightful)

Evro (18923) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792781)

  • How does the Mac have a "stranglehold" on media? The iPod is a popular music player... I don't see how that equates to a stranglehold on media.
  • If you love Macs so much, shelling out $500 for a Mac Mini shouldn't be such a huge "investment." It's not like you can only use one or the other.
  • As others have said, the Mac running on Intel hardware really doesn't mean much in the usable software sphere, the APIs are the same.

Re:Two points: (1)

Maserati (8679) | more than 8 years ago | (#13795817)

The Mac is said to have a stranglehold on media because professional media shops have historically been Mac based. Not so much in audio, but the visual arts have always had relatively poor Windows penetration.

And 80% of the market for MP3 players does kind of give Apple on selling downloadable music if they keep the DRM tightly held.

And, I think, 100% of the market share on downloadable television episodes. They're certainly the dominant player in online music sales right now.

The gain for the Mac-on-Intel in terms of usable software is in software that's tied to Intel's hardware. If there's a tie to Win32, then there's no advantage. But any application that depends on highly optimized SSE2-based libraries will never run on a G5 - GUIs are cake compared to engineering libraries. Any developer looking to switch from Win32 to Avalon will be considering portable toolkits as some of their options - you don't commit to that much money and effort without numbers from more than one option in the presentation. A new portable interface plus libraries that now run on the Mac make a Mac version much more likely for many specialist apps like CAD and modelling.

People will certainly be running Win32 CAD apps long after every other segment has switched away because it's the app, not the platform that companies buy. If Windows disappeared tomorrow, Apple's sales would increase tenfold overnight as they become the only platform capable of running a real MS Office - the very slick 2004 version for OS X.

It's been a long week, but my point here is that where the processor-specific code is more important than the API-specific code a Mac port can be profitable. With developers looking at a whole new API to target, some may choose to increase sales 10-20% by deveoping with a Mac port in mind.

...stop thinking autodesk (2, Insightful)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792917)

VectorWorks and TurboCAD are already here - and have been for many years. After several conversations with the AutoDesk AutoCAD procuct manager, it seems they think the Mac is dead, or dying. Anyhow, VectorWorks does handle AutoCAD files nicely, as long as you can get the M$ AutoCAD users (wiennies) to use standards-based file formats. CAD was born on the Mac... and I believe its still better with the available stuff today; AutoCAD is very much a M$ product - too much of everything, and nothing worth using day-to-day

Re:...stop thinking autodesk (2, Interesting)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793927)

Oh, I don't know about that last. It's been a few years since I got out of the drafting biz, but as of r14 and 2000 the intergrated AutoLISP programming language enabled me to do some really sweet parametric sheet-metal manufacturing design. I looked at replicating the capability in Solidworks, but what we had already in AutoCAD was going to remain faster for over 80% of designs and of equvalent output quality. (As far as actual manufacture went, anyway... visualization was way better in Solidworks.)

Of course, I could have done the same thing in any 2D package, so long as it supported a full programming environment. So I guess it wasn't that specific to AutoCAD.

Re:...stop thinking autodesk (1)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794148)

no its not specific to AutoCAD - i encourage you try more...

Re:...stop thinking autodesk (2, Interesting)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794688)

Like I said, I'm out of the drafting profession. But I still have occasional need to draw some stuff for my own use. What would you suggest for a free/cheap/libre drafting application with broadly similar features to AutoCAD? (In particular, 2D/3D drafting with [hooks to] a full programming language and keystroke macros?)

Re:...stop thinking autodesk (4, Insightful)

david duncan scott (206421) | more than 8 years ago | (#13794151)

CAD was born on the Mac...!?

Look, I'll give you DTP and maybe even the slide puzzle, but CAD was born well before the Mac. [mbdesign.net] In fact, I'll lay a buck that the Mac was designed using CAD.

(While you're at it, can I recommend John Walker's site, Fourmilab [fourmilab.com]? His history of AutoDesk:

  1. includes the following: "If only because of the support burden, we can't target every computer system in the world during the first few months. The current idea is to pursue the CPM (8080 and Z80) market immediately with all we've got. This means installing the Sierra Z80 board in lots of existing computers.

    We need to do more evaluation of the IBM and Apple situation with respect to both technical and marketing questions. We ought to be getting hardware for non-Z80 systems within 4-6 weeks.
    ", which I think makes it pretty clear that they were showing a CAD program back when Apples accepted CP/M cards,
  2. and neat trivia like, "We're also looking closely at JPLDIS, a very useful data base system written in Univac Fortran. The program is in the public domain, so we have the right to convert it to microcomputers and sell it. In fact, it apparently is being sold now under the name of Dbase II, but there's nothing to stop us from getting into the act.

    Who knew that DBase sprang from a PD program?)

Re:...stop thinking autodesk (1)

dogfriend (609723) | more than 8 years ago | (#13795020)

I have been using Vectorworks (previously MiniCad) for about 10 years now. In fact, the first Mac that we bought at work was specifically for running MiniCad which was Mac only back then.

Its a good program for light mechanical drafting. I think it is used much more widely in Architecture because a lot of the features are geared toward Architectural Drafting.

Re:...stop thinking autodesk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13795474)

You're right that there are alternatives to AutoCAD, but it's not just Autodesk that makes Windows-only CAD programs. Take Rhino [rhino3d.com], a pretty amazing (and remarkably inexpensive) CAD program, but one which cannot or will not ever be ported because, I'm assuming, it's dependent on the same Windows APIs that AutoCAD is, Rhino originally being an add-on for it. I'm desperately hoping it'll run acceptably under emulation on an Intel Mac, because I need to use it and being forced to use a PC just for the sake of this single program (hell, being required to buy an extremely high-end PC for the sake of this one program) is irritating, to put it mildly. But to my knowledge, there's nothing else out there with Rhino's combination of complex 3D modeling and scripting.

I found the accuracy of your description of AutoCAD highly amusing. In my experience, 2000 ran decently, but no one I know will go anywhere near the wizz-bangy monstrosity that is 2006. The thing is so obsequious that it's perpetually in your way.

And sorry for the AC -- I figured modding you up was a better use of my time than posting as a user...

Re:...stop thinking autodesk (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#13796577)

CAD was born on the Mac.

I wish!

AutoCAD was a nightmare on CP/M and PC-DOS. (Yeah, I know. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Autodesk is truly the Microsoft of the CAD world.)

-jcr

MATLAB (1)

fideli (861469) | more than 8 years ago | (#13792945)

As many people have mentioned above, the fact that OS X runs X11 means that if there was a market, there would be a version of your desired UNIX programs on the Mac right now. A good example is MATLAB. For Mac, it's basically the UNIX version with (I'm assuming) minimal changes since it runs in X11.

As for Intel chips, I agree that there will be no magic change that would all of a sudden allow your programs. Macs will still be Macs.

Probably possible. (1)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793439)

Last I heard from the Intel OSX leaks a while back, you could just install Windows on the systems with no problems. I don't imagine there would even be any legal issues with this, as long as your Windows copy is legit.

So yeah, I'm guessing you'll be able to buy a Mac, buy a copy of Windows, and with a bit of fiddling, install it so you can choose to boot to Windows.

Even if this isn't possible, I'm sure programs like WINE will be running a LOT faster with the Intel Macs, so you could probably run your Windows programs through those.

The problem is political, not technical... (5, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 8 years ago | (#13793884)

"Since this software is available on UNIX (which Mac OS X is built on) and also on Windows (Intel hardware), is the Apple switch to Intel-based hardware going to better my chances for a MacOS CAD workstation, or will it remain a pipedream?"

If the software is available on UNIX, and is not available on the Mac right now, then whatever is holding it back is unrelated to the processor the Mac is using. Either the vendor does not consider the Mac market large enough (which is odd, since by this time the majority of workstations capable of running UNIX software are Macs), or they consider even a port to another UNIX platform unreasonably difficult, or they don't realise that Mac OS X runs ordinary UNIX applications very well.

These are not problems that will be solved by switching to a new processor, case design, color scheme, mouse, keyboard, monitor, or pizza topping.

Re:The problem is political, not technical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13795299)

> they don't realise that Mac OS X runs ordinary UNIX applications very well.

Totally arguable point. There's 0 commercial Mac software that uses the X11 layer. The integration with Mac programs is very poor. For a dedicated workstation, it's ridiclous to think that anyone would buy a Mac just to run Motif/X11 stuff.

Also, unitl Apple has 64-bit API support (2007?), it's moot point anyway.

Re:The problem is political, not technical... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 8 years ago | (#13795408)

it's ridiclous to think that anyone would buy a Mac just to run Motif/X11 stuff

Who said anything about "just"? It's ridiculous to think that anyone would buy anything but a Mac to run all the rest of the software a UNIX user needs. I mean, OK, if you're buying a dedicated workstation you're going to go Alpha or something (though with the death of the Alpha there's really no competitive traditional UNIX left), but what about normal apps? Oh, I know lots of people stick with Motif/CDE/Gnome/KDE, but they're kinda Amish, you know?

unitl Apple has 64-bit API support (2007?), it's moot point anyway.

Apple has 64-bit API support, but not in code that calls the GUI frameworks. Since X11 code doesn't call the GUI directly... it talks to X11 through a message queue even if it uses shared memory... the shortcomings in OSX's 64-bit support shouldn't have an impact on X-based software.

i know! (0, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 8 years ago | (#13795172)

is the Apple switch to Intel-based hardware going to better my chances for a Mac OS X CAD workstation, or will it remain a pipedream?

There's a saying, perhaps you've heard it ... "God helps those whom help themselves." Translations: quit your bitching and write it yourself.

As far as CATIA is concerned. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13795991)

Don't know about SolidWorks, but as far as CATIA is concerned, it runs on different processor architectures, as well as different operating systems (Basically Windows and Unix-based). I do not see how a switch of processor might have anything to do with paving the way for a Mac port.

It is likely that if they really wanted to do so, they would already have done it already.

Why will the switch help? (2, Interesting)

mduell (72367) | more than 8 years ago | (#13796109)

What makes you think the switch will prompt Dassault Systemes to port CATIA to OSX?

They already support AIX on POWER and PowerPC. Given that they haven't ported a program that runs on AIX/PPC to OSX/PPC, what makes you think they will port a Win/x86 program to OSX/x86?

It's not about obscurity. CATIA runs on platforms with tiny marketshares like HP-UX (on PA-RISC?), Solaris on Sparc, and IRIX on Rx000. The software is obviously very portable, DS just has no interest in an OSX port.

I'm a huge fan of CATIA (just reupped my license a week ago :\), and it's one of those pieces of software that keeps me from switching to OSX (Valve's Source is the other big one).

Versacad (1)

optical guy (923049) | more than 8 years ago | (#13796119)

Versacad was available on the Apple II, and followed Apple to the Mac and was available as early as the Mac Plus, I think. I used it many years on a Mac II and later machines. Then it disappeared for awhile, but is now back. Its available from a company run (owned?) by the original designer/programmer, at www.archwaysystems.com. I transitioned to something else, and no longer use it, but its good for 2D for sure.

CAD on Mac (1)

RonR (923061) | more than 8 years ago | (#13796355)

CAD on the Mac depends a lot on what you are doing- for Architecture Vector Works is quite viable, for solid modeling it's very weak. I've been using Ashlar's Cobalt http://www.ashlar.com/ [ashlar.com] under OSX and Windows for about 18 months, and for what I do, tending towards industrial Design, Injection molded plastic parts, prototyping, etc. I like it much more than SolidWorks. You get both Windows and Mac versions for one price, and the license allows you to switch back and forth, which I do frequently as in order to export Parasolid files for SolidWorks users you have to be under Windows. It runs at least as well on the Mac- better really. They offer a 2 week fully functional trial- after using it for about two hours I was scrounging up the $4000 for the full package. I only open SolidWorks now when I absolutely need to check an exported file for someone. Pros: much better interface (Mac or Windows), more fun to use, better tools for creating complex organic shapes Cons: fewer tools for very complex assemblies, less than fully realized parametric tools, lack of many of the tie ins to specialized software like FEA, etc. The Rutan / Scaled Composites/ Spaceship one supposedly group used Cobalt for the airframe design, SolidWorks for the landing gear- not sure if this is entirely true, but it does summarize the relative strengths of the systems). There are persistent rumors of ProE coming over to the Mac platform- That would be a very good thing. RonR

If There's money In It (1)

reallocate (142797) | more than 8 years ago | (#13798169)

The chips Apple uses don't matter. Commercial vendors want to know if there's money to be made by adding a new platform. If the move to Intel expands Apple's marketshare, then your chances for getting your CAD programs goes up.

Well, let me see here... (1)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 8 years ago | (#13798903)

... is the Apple switch to Intel-based hardware going to better my chances for a Mac OS X CAD workstation, or will it remain a pipedream?

My wife lost her ability to see the future, and my friend who can read the minds of distant CEOs an product managers isn't here right now, so I guess I'll have to resort to my magic 8-ball:

"Better not tell you now"

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