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Intel Technology (Apple) Technology

Apple to Use Intel Chips? 920

Posted by Hemos
from the circle-round-round-and-again dept.
Stack_13 writes "Wall Street Journal reports that Apple will agree to use Intel chips. Neither Apple or Intel confirm this. Interestingly, PCMag's John C. Dvorak predicted this for 2004-2005. Are even cheaper Mac Minis coming?"
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Apple to Use Intel Chips?

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  • Does this mean - (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thewldisntenuff (778302) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:26AM (#12611230) Homepage
    We'll see Mac OS X - x86 anytime soon?
    • by southpolesammy (150094) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:30AM (#12611266) Journal
      More likely it will mean that you'll see better pricing on PowerPC-based Macs in the future.
      • Re:Does this mean - (Score:5, Informative)

        by Oculus Habent (562837) * <oculus@habent.gmail@com> on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:32AM (#12611303) Journal
        This could be the same tactic Dell uses with Intel... "We could go with AMD, but about those prices..."

        Cheaper because of Intel? I doubt it. Even if Apple does start using x86 - or more likely x86-64 - they would still likely use their own controller chips (Note that Apple uses a single, integrated controller rather than a north/southbridge approach) and custom boards.

        It's not impossible that Apple will switch to Intel processors. We already know they keep a copy of the OS up to date on Intel hardware, and even released Darwin x86. The problems come from all the things they would leave behind:

        Compatibility - The PowerPC architecture emulates x86 better than the other way 'round. To keep from eliminating all old software with one fell swoop, they would need to emulate PowerPC. This would cause old software to run like death.

        VMX - Much of Apple's current power comes from the AltiVec/VMX/Velocity Engine available on the G4 & G5 processors. It is what offers Apple serious performance benefits in certain applications, and makes possible many of the near/realtime capbilities in programs like iPhoto, iMovie, and even Final Cut Pro. Unless Intel tacks on a VMX unit, I don't see Apple switching.

        Maybe a dual-processor system: one PowerPC and one Intel? Not likely, I grant you.
        • Re:Does this mean - (Score:5, Interesting)

          by /ASCII (86998) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:41AM (#12611385) Homepage
          My guess is they really are planning on using Intel chips - just not processors. Remember, Intel produces wireless chips, Flash memory, Ethernet chips, and Salt and Vinegar chips.
    • by rovingeyes (575063)
      Good point. But is Apple a software company or a hardware company? If OS X-86 come out then they have to dedicate an entire department for that. Not that Apple cannot afford it, but if they are really a hardware company, it really is not lucrative enough and not to mention inheriting all the troubles of x86 world.
      • Re:Does this mean - (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:34AM (#12611320)
        The thing that sets Apple apart from all other companies in this area is that they aren't just a hardware company or a software company. They are both. Most people buy the hardware because of the excellent software they offer on top. It's the combined experience that makes their hardware stand above the rest.
        • by /ASCII (86998) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:00AM (#12611522) Homepage
          Yeah that really sets Apple apart from other companies like Sun, IBM and HP... NOT. All the Unix providers have exactly the same control.

          You got it backwards. There are many closed architectures with one company dictating hardware and software. It is in fact the x86 that is unique in that multiple companies provide each part of the computer in an open architecture. And though this solution has it's problems, I think it has shown itself to be vastly superior to a closed system like the Mac.

          Also keep in mind that if Apple where the dominating computer provider, they could probably had squished open source efforts like Linux in the cradle by closing specs and making new hardware incompatbile. The X86 may not be pretty, but I'd prefer it over a closed architecture any day.

          • Re:Does this mean - (Score:3, Interesting)

            by quelrods (521005)
            By closed architectures are you referring to the PPC? This is not produced by Apple but by IBM and the architecture docs are quite good (IBM will mail you a hardcopy set of the books for free.) In fact AMD and Intel for the x86 have docs on par with IBM for the PPC. I think you meant to say that some of their peripherials are closed products (like their wireless.)
            • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:55AM (#12612043)
              No I think he meant to say their architecture. The PPC is a pretty well defined processor, I've used it on a number of designs way outside that of a traditional computer, but it's just a processor. You can string it to just about any impossible chain of stuff imaginable, trust me, I have. None of them were compatible with Apple's Macintosh however.

              PCs and Apple's have an "architecture" defining how the chips are strung together, how expansion is expected to work, how the interrupt controller works (and yes, which interrupt certain hardwired devices are on), etc. Unlike Apples, for the PC it's not one but many standards defining their function, not one of which defines how the processor should work. Worse still, it's essentially defined as "Be backwards compatible with an PC AT from 20 years ago". No single company really owns it, although many would like to. Even the evil empire has relegated itself to "putting up with cooperation" in this regard.

              I find it more likely that Apple will define their own computer architecture using Intel chips. Maybe they will do their own north bridge, in fact much of the traditional PC architecture is emulated in this device, and changing it with something else would make an incompatible system. Let's not forget that much of PC legacy crap is software as well as hardware. If Apple throws all that out the window, they may as well have defined a new Intel based system. You aren't going to install windows on it, nor will you get a regular x86 build of linux to come close to working.

      • Re:Does this mean - (Score:5, Interesting)

        by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:43AM (#12611410) Homepage Journal
        You'd be surprised how architecturally different Apple's regular offerings are from one another. I believe even Apple's latest PowerBooks use technologies considered obsolete in the rest of the line, such as ADB for the internal bus used for the keyboard and pointing device. The G4 and G5s have much bigger differences between them than the G3s and G4s, and Apple is trying to support a whole range of systems from the ground up.

        In that respect, it may be easier for Apple to switch to an entirely new CPU architecture than you might think. The additional support wouldn't be dramatic, it could continue to have a lot in common with the rest of their systems (which heavily use USB and IDE, PCI and AGP, etc), making the CPU and a few other minor details the major changes. It certainly wouldn't need a dedicated department of any serious size to support this version of OS X, it'd just be an additional platform to test the recompiled version upon.

        This is, of course, assuming we're talking about Intel chips being used in Macs (with an OS X compiled to run on it) and not a generic version of OS X being developed that'll run on IBM PC clones, which is an entirely different issue.

        • Re:Does this mean - (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kyro (302315)
          The latest powerbooks actually have a USB interface for keyboard and mouse. however you are correct, the ibooks, and all previous powerbooks used ADB.
    • by tliet (167733) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:31AM (#12611281)
      For the n-th time, what would Apple have to gain? Who would buy a Mac when they could buy a Dell. Does anyone seriously believe Microsoft would release Office for Mac OS X for Intel?

      The Mac would die the day the CPU would be the same as in a generic PC. Not from a architectural standpoint, I think they could make it happen, but marketingwise.
      • by Rasta Prefect (250915) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:35AM (#12611337)
        For the n-th time, what would Apple have to gain? Who would buy a Mac when they could buy a Dell.

        Maybe someone who doesn't want his Tech support calls forwarded to Bangalore? (Not that I don't have my complaints about Apple support, but at least I could figure out what everyone was telling me, leaving out the ambiguity of figuring out whether they really sucked or whether I just thought they sucked because I couldn't figure out what the hell they were saying.)
    • by selderrr (523988)
      I seriously doubt it. Right now, Intel is not really leading he pack in processor terms. All you hear about these days is IBM (both PS3 and XBox360 are IBM powered) and AMD on the 64bit front. With OSX being the most widely spread 64bit consumer OS, I can hardly believe Apple switching to the least-represented CPU manufacturer.

      If anything, they could perhaps use some non-x86 intel stuff for portables devices where the PPC sucks up too much power. Remember that Intel is more than only x86
      • by Tenebrious1 (530949)
        I seriously doubt it. Right now, Intel is not really leading he pack in processor terms.

        No, perhaps not. However, in terms of marketing, Intel is way ahead of all other processors. The masses have been told to buy computer with "Intel Inside", they remember the crazy men in blue, and the guys in the bunny suits. Of course, they don't really know what "Intel Inside" means, but it's easy to remember and ask for. Consumers feel empowered by saying they want a computer with "500 megapixels memory, 60 googl
    • by /ASCII (86998) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:35AM (#12611333) Homepage
      Apple may be planning on using Intel network cards. Or maybe one of intels hardware raid chips. Flash memories, Cellular processors, wireless chips are al possible. But processors? I doubt it.
    • by garcia (6573) * on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:41AM (#12611387) Homepage
      This has been discussed before. Apple uses their x86 kernel as leverage against MSFT so that there is still Office for OS X.

      The second that Apple moves into the market with OS X for x86, MSFT is going to pull Office and render OS X basically useless compared to Windows. Yeah, there are open alternatives that sorta work but in the real world people want to use what they are comfortable with. Unfortunately that's Office.

      MSFT knows that if they pulled Office for OS X that Apple could easily release OS X for x86 and enter a new competitor into the OS market.
    • It's not about CPUs (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CptSkippy (793400) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:58AM (#12611513)
      Who said this had anything to do with CPUs?

      Intel = Flash Memory God

      iShuffle = Flash Memory MP3 Player
    • nope. you might see intel making powerpc though. if apple ports mac os x to x86, thats cool and all, but none of the applications will work, then they'll go back to the mess of the 68k to powerpc switchover, where you have 2 versions of every product. considering powerpc is working so well for apple, and steve jobs just said he's happy with the powerpc architecture, then this story seems to be bogus. not worth apple's effort.
    • by parvenu74 (310712) on Monday May 23, 2005 @12:12PM (#12612819)
      Doesn't Intel have all kinds of chip fabrication capacity that could -- in theory -- be converted over to stamping out PPC chips instead of x86 chips? IBM would need to license such a move or sell the IP, but is that such a reach considering that IBM has been spinning off their hardware businesses (Hitachi hard drives, Lenovo Desktops) of late?

      And if Intel were going to produce a CPU for Apple, why is the assumption x86? Mac OS X Server on Itanium, anyone?

      Mostly likely, though, is that Intel's wireless chips are on the menu. WiMax is around the corner and we all know how Apple oh-so-loves to be on the bleeding edge of technology...
  • Dvorak (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:27AM (#12611237)
    "John C. Dvorak predicted this for 2004-2005."

    Yes but he predicts so much crap of course he'll be right eventually.
    • Re:Dvorak (Score:5, Funny)

      by tbone1 (309237) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:33AM (#12611314) Homepage
      If Dvorak predicted it, you can bet it won't happen.

      The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a "mouse". There is no evidence that people want to use these things.
      - John C. Dvorak, SF Examiner, Feb. 1984.
      • Re:Dvorak (Score:5, Informative)

        by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:09AM (#12611606)
        That's an even funnier quote when you consider the mouse had been invented 16 years earlier at SRI. The mouse was hardly "experimental" in 1984, and was already in use in CAD workstations. Dvorak is another one of those dumbass media figures that people inexplicably listen to. Good gig if you can get it.
  • Dvorak (Score:4, Insightful)

    by taskforce (866056) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:28AM (#12611240) Homepage
    If what Dvorak has predicted is about to come true, I fear the space time continuum will rupture spewing forth a hoard of evil flesh eating time daemons.
  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fr0dicus (641320) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:29AM (#12611251) Journal
    ARM for iPods maybe, but otherwise, absolutely no chance. Only a fool would even think this was likely.
  • O really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yurigoul (658468) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:29AM (#12611252) Homepage
    Stuff like this keeps coming up. Seems to be part of the Apple rumour cycle. Can we trust the source??? Using the G5 is par to of the advantage in marketing terms, as a far as i can see: think different!
  • Aw, jeez... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:29AM (#12611259)
    ...After everyone worked so hard to port Linux to the PowerPC...
  • Why move now? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JabrTheHut (640719) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:30AM (#12611269)
    Why move now? Everyone's been hearing about the dual-core PowerPC chips for months, PS 3 and Xbox 180 will be running 3-core versions of this chip, so why go Intel?
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:30AM (#12611270) Homepage Journal
    All it says is that "Apple will use intel chips", it doesn't state what kind of chips, but it does repeat itself over and over again. Maybe Apple will use Intel chips in an embedded device, maybe they are considering bringing back the mac/pc hybrid. There is really no "meat" to this story, but we can all speculate anyway.
  • Original source? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ctr2sprt (574731) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:30AM (#12611280)
    The WSJ reports it, but no link to the WSJ's actual story? Well, here it is [wsj.com].
  • Apple Denies (Score:5, Informative)

    by nbharatvarma (784546) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:32AM (#12611300)
    Some links I found some 30 mins ago in Google News

    http://www.techsmec.com/index.php/2005/05/23/apple _denies_intel_rumour [techsmec.com]
    http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/73057/apple-denies-eye ing-intel-chips.html [pcpro.co.uk]
    http://www.dvhardware.net/article5037.html [dvhardware.net]

    Of course, one could argue that Apple wouldn't want this news to be leaked

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:32AM (#12611301)
    The Register already has an analysis on this: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/05/23/apple_inte l/ [theregister.co.uk]

    The conclusions are: Apple already use a lot of non PowerPC chips (iPod, AirPort base stations), so these talks may well have nothing to do with Mac's. Also, it could be a scare tactic to make IBM a bit more eager as a chip supplier.
  • by TempusMagus (723668) * on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:33AM (#12611305) Homepage Journal
    Well, for one, it would make the whole confusing use of clock speeds vs platform processor go away. It would also make it easier to emu windows software and port games. However, the new IBM PPC chips seem to kick all sorts of major ass. Why give that up? I'm betting anything this is for iPod chips.
  • Why cheaper!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jerde (23294) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:33AM (#12611309) Journal
    And why, now, would Intel CPUs be any cheaper?

    Currently all of Intel's stuff runs hotter, so Apple would have to work significantly harder at heat dissipation issues in all but their tower designs.

    And what, pray tell, do you expect them to do with little-endian issues, backwards compatibility, and all those little details?

    Unless Apple thinks that neither IBM or Motorola are ever going to catch up, I just can't see them justifying the huge cost of a major architecture change like this.

    - Peter
    • Currently all of Intel's stuff runs hotter, so Apple would have to work significantly harder at heat dissipation issues in all but their tower designs.

      That's a design issue, not a manufacturing issue.

      And what, pray tell, do you expect them to do with little-endian issues, backwards compatibility, and all those little details?

      It's commonly known that Apple keeps a version of OS/X for Intel current and ready to go if they should ever have to switch because of supply problems (which has always been a

      • Re:Why cheaper!? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Monday May 23, 2005 @11:50AM (#12612574) Homepage
        Every company in the world supporting the Mac platform would have to recompile and reissue their software for x86. This would be a huge burden on Mac software makers.

        That alone seems like a good enough reason for this not to happen short of major disaster for the PowerPC platform. And with the dual cores well on the way, according to most sources, I don't see this as a major problem.

        D
  • by SirStanley (95545) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:34AM (#12611325) Homepage
    This is a rumor that keeps getting recycled. It could be true this time... just like it could have been true the last 50 times it's happened.

    New headline:
    Erroneous Wallstreet Journal Article causes Mac Fans through out the world to riot. Killing 15
  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:37AM (#12611351) Journal
    Steve Jobs said he liked the potato chips he was offered during an Intel presentation, and plans to sell the same chips in Apple's cafeteria as well. :-)
  • Well, I suppose since Dvorak predicted it every year since 1988, he might well be right sooner or later. I guess that would be about the third or fourth thing he's gotten right in all that time.
  • Summary of issues (Score:5, Interesting)

    by G4from128k (686170) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:41AM (#12611396)
    Here's why this is not that likely:
    1. It's just Apple trying to get better terms/service from IBM (think Dell's "talks" with AMD)
    2. It will be the death of Apple's hardware division
    3. Apple will have a hard time supporting the myriad boards, chipsets, and peripherals of PCs
    4. Piracy/sharing (pick your preferred new-speak term) will mean a revenue-less expansion of the install base
    That said, Apple's done some strange moves in the past. If PC users can just buy OS X86 for $99, they might give Mac a try. It wouldn't take that high conversion rate for OS software profits to easily replace hardware profits. I'd bet that Apple makes nearly as much profit on a sale of Tiger as it does on the sale of it slower-end machines.
    • by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday May 23, 2005 @11:19AM (#12612242) Homepage
      # It will be the death of Apple's hardware division # Apple will have a hard time supporting the myriad boards, chipsets, and peripherals of PCs # Piracy/sharing (pick your preferred new-speak term) will mean a revenue-less expansion of the install base

      Why is there always the presumption that a system with an x86 CPU will be PC compatible? Someone postulates that Apple may be considering using Intel CPUs, and everyone makes the giant leap of (il)logic that Apple is considering adopting the PC platform as a whole. It is entirely possible to use the same CPU in a totally incompatible system. Look at the Original 68000 based Macs. Were they compatible with the 68000 based Amiga? It is only logical to assume that were Apple to dump IBM and adopt (say) the Pentium-M as their new CPU it would be installed on a proprietary Apple motherboard, not a $40 Abit or Tyan from Taiwan.

  • Weird timing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:52AM (#12611469) Homepage
    With IBM CPU's powering both the new XBox and Playstation, one would imagine that volume production for cheap Mac's would be possible. Is there any reason you couldn't use a XBox 360 CPU in a Mac?
  • by adzoox (615327) * on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:00AM (#12611527) Journal
    Apple no longer owns a stake in ARM (sold it all to Intel), but they do have experience and could easily hire/rehire programmers that worked on Apple/ARM devices (read as Newton)

    My guess is that this will be for a new ARM processor for the iPod - the custom chip is probably too weak for advanced features.

    Intel has been wanting to move to RISC chips for some time - maybe they want to become a CELL/PowerPC production partner to catch on the wave - 100% of the gaming world will be using PowerPC or PowerPC deritives in the next year - year and a half -

    Intel now owns the largest stake in ARM (bought from Apple) - this is the processor in the majority of PocketPCs, Palms, and GPS units. So - this Intel processor is most likely for a new device or even the iPod.

    Also take into account that USB2.0 chipsets are currently made by Intel (and others) and that Apple uses Intel chips in the XServe line for RAID I/O.
  • Dvorak (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jusdisgi (617863) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:06AM (#12611580)

    PCMag's John C. Dvorak predicted this...

    Even a stopped clock is right twice a day...

    In all seriousness, though....that article is a good chuckle. He was calling for Apple to switch to Itanium for Christ's sake, and then license OS X for non-Apple hardware with a Windows compatibility layer. Bwahahaha! Come now, John, how do you dream this shit up?

    Equally hairbrained is his theory of a dual-processor PowerPC/Itanium machine; he seems to have the idea that they could just duck-tape two motherboards together and have it pick and choose which processor to run what executable on...clearly, he's using drugs.

    If Apple does this (which I am extremely skeptical of at this point) I expect it will be at the very lowest end....completely backwards from what Dvorak predicted. The reason is simple: IBM's Power architecture is plenty fast, and they aren't going to get a performance improvement by switching to Intel. The only benefit available from such a switch is cost.

  • by Frobozz0 (247160) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:15AM (#12611672)
    *ahem* bullsh*t.

    There's a saying about hell freezing over and _something_ to do with Steve Jobs using Intel CPU's.... hmmmm.

    I think these people misinterpreted the evidence for CPU's. Apple uses Intel chips in their computers NOW... just not CPU's. And for good reason:

    1) Intel chips are NOT cheaper. Any difference is negligable.
    2) They don't run faster (AMD keeps pace, but not Intel.)
    3) They'd have to recompile every app made for one architecture to run on another.
    4) They run hotter.
    5) Steve doesn't like Intel CPU's.
    6) Steve doesn't want to piss off Microsoft by being THAT agressive in their turf.
  • by atomm1024 (570507) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:41AM (#12611892)
    Yeah, big deal. He predicts that every year. Maybe he was lucky this time. :)
  • Not for Macs.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SJ (13711) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:45AM (#12611939)
    XServe RAID already uses an Intel IO chip.

    Airport Base Stations use (or at least they used to use) a 486.

    iPod probably has (or will have) some sort of ARM chip in it.

    The XNU Kernel has the ability to assign certain types of tasks to certain types of CPU. There is no reason why a Mac could not use both a PPC and an x86 in the same box.

    Intel make kick-arse network chips.

    Who said anything about these going into a Mac? (New product?)
  • by el_womble (779715) on Monday May 23, 2005 @11:13AM (#12612189) Homepage

    I can't imagine why Apple would want to move towards x86 hardware, but there are many reasons why I can see Apple and Intel having a lot to talk about.

    • Intel make a lot of chips. Apple / IBM in comparison do not, but that doesn't mean that Apple doesn't want to. Intel could become a licensed manufacturer, and pick up the slack if volumes get too much for IBM to handle (in the wake of PS3 and XBox 360s).
    • Intel know a lot about 90nm technology. They have several patents that would no doubt make IBMs life a lot easier when it comes to making a G5 that works in a laptop (without sterilizing the user) and pushing the G5 beyond the 3GHz barrier
    • Intel make other technologies that Apple would be interested in, WiMax being the most obvious
    • Intel, have the potential to be great innovators. They're reaching the limits of what they can achieve with x86 because Microsoft are unlikely to want to support a new architecture anytime soon. Apple could offer them an oppertunity to try something new, and maybe make the next big thing in processors (if they don't already have it up their sleves).
    • I could even imagine a 'G6' or similar with a x86 instruction decoder. We all know that x86 instructions are internally reduced to RISC like microcode, why not bolt one onto the the front of a G5 and remove the software emulation in virtual PC? (ok, this is scraping the barrel)
    • Intel inside sells 200 million units a year, maybe that badge could make a difference to Apple sales - even if they used a different instruction set
  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Monday May 23, 2005 @01:13PM (#12613669) Journal
    This same rumor has popped up just about every year since 1984. Dvorak has been predicting that Apple will go x86 every time he wanted to troll for ad hits.

    Apple buys a bunch of parts from many companies, including Intel. If Apple execs are meeting with intel execs, its' just as likely to be about ethernet controllers or wi-fi transceivers.

    -jcr

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