Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Apple

What is the Intel Switch Costing Apple? 531

Posted by Zonk
from the best-atm-interface-ever dept.
SenseOfHumor writes "A Business Week article says that it costs Apple $898 for an Intel iMac before loading it with software and packaging. From the article: 'But for Apple, the switch to Intel chips is less about saving money in the short term, and more about hitching its wagon to Intel's longer-term product road maps, particularly in the area of notebooks. IBM's chips are power-hungry and generate a lot of heat, and therefore not suitable to notebook computers.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

What is the Intel Switch Costing Apple?

Comments Filter:
  • by MountainMan101 (714389) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:29PM (#14510135)
    If they don't know, why ask us? Everyone knows slashdot crowd knows nothing. But we'll always comment. So I'll say it's costing them at least a hundred pigs a month in tribute. Maybe some biscuits (you Yanks call them cookies).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:30PM (#14510142)
    In the mid 1990s, Apple showed the famous picture of a Pentium grilling a hot dog and claimed Intel's chips were power hungry and ran hot compared to the nice cool sleek PowerPC. That was one of the supporting reasons that Apple ostensibly switched, according to all the engineering presentations at WWDC. So when did this change?

    The main reason of course was that RISC processors were on a much faster performance incline than the fuddy duddy old CISC processors like the x86 line. The graph comparing the two in the period 1995-2005 showed CISC acceleration continuing to slow and RISC acceleration continuing with, I believe, a skyrocket attached to the top of the graph. We all know how that turned out.
    • So when did this change?

      Somewhere in the last decade where each architecture was developed into something different than it was.

    • In the mid 1990s, Apple showed the famous picture of a Pentium grilling a hot dog and claimed Intel's chips were power hungry and ran hot compared to the nice cool sleek PowerPC. That was one of the supporting reasons that Apple ostensibly switched, according to all the engineering presentations at WWDC. So when did this change?

      Just within the last 12 months has Intel started releasing chips that focus on lower heat and power. The Pentium M chips were a step towards lower power, but the Intel Core Duo th

      • by Critical_ (25211) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:57PM (#14511015) Homepage
        Just within the last 12 months has Intel started releasing chips that focus on lower heat and power.

        False. Your statement isn't giving Intel enough credit and is not supported by the numbers. Since the original Banias Pentium M's were released back in March of 2003, we've seen Intel's mobile products have very good performance per watt ratios and overall power usage numbers. In fact, the overall power usage was the lowest in the original Pentium M's out of the entire line. You statement would be correct if you it said this: "...within the last 34 months (i.e. ~3 years) has Intel started releasing chips that focus on lower heat and power."

        Data pulled from Intel Product Specifications at http://www.intel.com/ [intel.com]

        Banias (the normal voltage models-i.e. 1.7 GHz, 1.6 GHz, 1.4 GHz, etc):

        Thermal Design Power: 24.5 W (Full speed) / 6 W (Speedstep)
        Sleep Power: 1.7 W
        Deep Sleep Power: 1.1 W
        Deeper Sleep Power: 0.55 W

        Dothan (any model #):

        Thermal Design Power: 21 W (Full speed) / 7.5 W (Speedstep)
        Sleep Power: 3.2 W
        Deep Sleep Power: 2.5 W
        Deeper Sleep Power: 0.8 W

        Core Duo (any standard power model #):

        Thermal Design Power: 31 W (Full speed) / 13.1 W (Speedstep)
        Sleep Power: 4.7 W
        Deep Sleep Power: 3.4 W
        Deeper Sleep Power: 2.2 W

        The Pentium M chips were a step towards lower power, but the Intel Core Duo that ships in the imac is the first chip that is really ahead of AMD for mobile systems.

        Again, False. The first part of that sentence has already been proven false with the numbers I've posted. The second part of your AMD fanboy'ism is also incorrect. AMD offers two TDP ranges in their "Lancaster" single core Turion64 mobile processors: 25 watts and 35watts. As you can see with the data presented above, both of these TDP's are larger than Intel's single core Pentium M offerings which have been available since March 2003. AMD's Turion didn't even arrive on the scene until 2005 which gives Intel a solid two year headstart. What's even more interesting is that more than half of AMD's entire single core Turion line consumes more power than Intel's dual core Core Duo mobile processors. AMD has yet to release their dual core Turion processors. So your statement that the Intel Core Duo is the "first chip that is really ahead of AMD for mobile systems" is complete wrong. Intel has had AMD beat since March of 2003 in the mobile market and still continues to beat it. Please check your facts before posting lies or put an AMD fanboy disclaimer on your posts.

        Note: I didn't both including Intel's various Low Voltage and Ultra Low Voltage Pentium M, Core Solo and Core Duo processors that have an even lower TDP than the standard voltage processor numbers I posted above. Adding this information would only serve to futher prove that your statements are wrong.
        • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:08PM (#14511142)

          The performance for a given power crown has been handed back and forth for a while between Intel and AMD. While it is true Intel has had Pentium M's for quite a while, they have not been comparable to competing AMDs for performance for most of their existence, barring a few anomalies. This is my unbiased opinion. I am neither an AMD not Intel "fanboy" as so many on Slashdot seem to be. I haven't yet purchased a non-PPC laptop in this millennium. Looking at arstechnica or a similar sites comparisons over the last few years seems to show that most review sites agree with my assessment. To summarize, your assessment is completely correct, if you don't care about performance as part of the equation.

    • by adisakp (705706) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:46PM (#14510319) Journal
      The main reason of course was that RISC processors were on a much faster performance incline than the fuddy duddy old CISC processors like the x86 line. The graph comparing the two in the period 1995-2005 showed CISC acceleration continuing to slow and RISC acceleration continuing with, I believe, a skyrocket attached to the top of the graph. We all know how that turned out.

      No one at the time expected the changes in CISC processors. CISC processors still do have a "complex" instruction set in that they allow multiple forms of adddressing and varying length opcodes. However, internally these chips have become much more RISC-like. The current generation of Pentiums actually does an internal version of dynamic translation from CISC to RISC-micro-ops (which may be 1 or more per CISC instruction) and executes the micro-ops using a different instruction set internally. This internal RISC instruction set is used so central to the design that the L1 I-Cache is not actually a verbatim data cache of the CISC instructions but actually a trace cache of the translated RISC-like micro-ops.
      • by dasil003 (907363) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:18PM (#14510638) Homepage
        No one at the time expected the changes in CISC processors. CISC processors still do have a "complex" instruction set in that they allow multiple forms of adddressing and varying length opcodes. However, internally these chips have become much more RISC-like. The current generation of Pentiums actually does an internal version of dynamic translation from CISC to RISC-micro-ops (which may be 1 or more per CISC instruction) and executes the micro-ops using a different instruction set internally. This internal RISC instruction set is used so central to the design that the L1 I-Cache is not actually a verbatim data cache of the CISC instructions but actually a trace cache of the translated RISC-like micro-ops.

        It really just goes to show the error in the view that RISC and CISC are considered opposite approaches to processor design. The dichotomy was more pronounced in the early days of chip design, but the fact was that proponents of both approaches had good points, and so it was inevitable that modern chips combine the best of both philosophies.

        I think the progress made on the PowerPC architecture is a testament to its viability. The fact that it's even managed to stay anywhere close to Intel/AMD is remarkable given the difference in R&D dollars (I'm just guessing). But the timing of the Intel switch makes perfect sense.

        Consider the switch to the PowerPC in the 90s. It was a time when Microsoft was rapidly catching up to the Mac in terms of UI, and computers were generally underpowered for the common applications that people needed. Gambling on a more promising architecture could have paid off huge if the performance panned out. That never happened, and Apple was in pretty bad shape by the late 90s.

        Now, however, computer performance has reached adequate levels for all the things the common people want... audio, video, web surfing, word processing. We can always use more power, but performance is not such a big deal as it used to be. Since they're not seeking a competitive advantage in performance, it makes sense of Apple to at least assure commodity performance by going with the dominant CPU architecture. Apple has contiunously struggled with supply problems from chip vendors for years, hopefully this will now be behind them, and they can focus on the creative part of their business which is where they've always excelled.
        • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @03:15PM (#14511900)
          Since they're not seeking a competitive advantage in performance, it makes sense of Apple to at least assure commodity performance by going with the dominant CPU architecture.

          The Intel switch wasn't about switching to a dominant architecture, it was about moving to a platform that had a future roadmap for performance-per-watt. Intel is kicking butt in that department with the Core Duo (a laptop chip that manages to compete with a desktop Athlon64). Merom and Conroe later this year are supposed to further this even more dramatically, being chip redesigns with performance-per-watt as the design goal.

          Steve Jobs was tired of selling a G4 Powerbook, so he moved to Intel.

        • re: I disagree (Score:4, Insightful)

          by King_TJ (85913) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @03:25PM (#14512024) Journal
          The argument that "performance has reached adequate levels" rears its head every few years or so in the industry. The fact is though, everything goes in cycles. Sometimes the software development outpaces the currently available/reasonably priced hardware, and then things shift back the other direction for a little while. But the one thing that's certain is; development isn't going to come to a halt on the software side. If you develop faster, cheaper systems - eventually, software developers will figure out ways to make use of everything that's available to them. They have to, because in most cases, that's the only thing that keeps food on their tables. New versions are expected practically yearly for most popular applications, and once you've offered all the basics - what else is there to do for the next upgrade? You have to add "cool new things" that catch people's interest. Whether that means toolbars that automatically fade into the background when they're not used for a little while or voice recognition integrated into the app, built-in video tutorials or adding all new capabilities to perform tasks the app never tried to tackle at all before - you're going to need ever faster CPUs to become "commdity items" to go along with your work.

          Apple has a deep hole to keep trying to dig themselves back out of largely because the perceived "value for the dollar" of buying a Mac became VERY poor in the mid to late 90's. Sleek new systems running OS X have started turning things back around - but Apple's move to Intel means they've got to be MORE concerned with performance increases than ever before! They can't lean on an excuse (however accurate or inaccurate is really was) of "You can't compare Mhz to Mhz between Intel or AMD chips and our PPC chips!" Now, the CPUs powering their hardware are the SAME ones powering everyone else's hardware. So if your new Mac offers a 2.1Ghz CPU and a new Dell has a 3.0Ghz of the same product type - it's clear. The Dell is a lot more powerful. And the general public understands that.
          • Re: I disagree (Score:4, Insightful)

            by node 3 (115640) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:45PM (#14515970)
            So if your new Mac offers a 2.1Ghz CPU and a new Dell has a 3.0Ghz of the same product type - it's clear. The Dell is a lot more powerful. And the general public understands that.

            Even that's not quite true. The power of a cpu is what you can do with it, not its clock-speed. A faster chip of the exact same line is not more powerful if the software is less powerful.

            For example, for day-to-day tasks, a slower Mac is more powerful than a faster PC. For games, a slower PC is much more powerful than a faster Mac.

            When it comes to iLife style apps, a 1.25GHz G4 Mac is far more powerful than a PC (Windows or Linux) of any speed.

            Or, put another way, what's more powerful: running Windows Movie Maker on a 3 GHz cpu, or iMovie on a 2 GHz cpu?
    • It changed within the last few years. Apple used to cream Intel chips on battery life, regularly producing laptops that could run for up to four hours. Intel laptops, OTOH, were quickly dwindling in battery life all the way down to 2 hours or less.

      Intel noted this issue and produced the Pentium M [wikipedia.org] processor (part of their whole "Centrino" push), which significantly reduced processor power usage on mobile computers. In the meantime, Apple was unable to convince IBM to produce low power G5's as they had gotten
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:31PM (#14510151)
    ibm relationship, $1,000,000,000
    porting operating system $30,000,000

    finding yourself on the platform you have been bagging out for the last three decades? Priceless!!

    -Sj53
  • by patman600 (669121) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:31PM (#14510152)
    Wasn't this the publicly stated reason for switching when Steve announced the move last summer? They said IBM makes great server chips, but the future of personal computing is laptops, something Intel is putting more R&D into than IBM, and thus provides a better solution.

    why is this news?
    • by AugstWest (79042) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:35PM (#14510198)
      The news is about the cost per iMac, but this being /., everyone is focusing on the reason for switching, since it has already been rehashed a thousand times and they're comfortable flaming about it.

      Really, what this article is saying is that Apple is only making $450 per low-end iMac sold, based on their own estimates, which are most likely wrong.

      Why is THAT news? You got me.
      • Really, what this article is saying is that Apple is only making $450 per low-end iMac sold, based on their own estimates, which are most likely wrong.

        Because the $898 worth of parts magically engineered themselves into a computer, set up an assembly line, and assembled themselves into iMacs, made the OS driver updates and general optimisations, and marketed themselves by hiring advertising firms and buying TV spots, then added themselves to the online store and transported themselves to the brick-and-morta
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think the expectation was that the switch to Intel would also make Macs substantially cheaper, based on the assumption that the Intel chips would be cheaper than the IBM chips. This has not turned out to be the case, probably because IBM was selling the G5s to Apple for very little profit or maybe even a loss. The rumor mill says that once the game console volume came online, IBM told Apple that they'd actually expect a profit, and that if they wanted a laptop version of the G5, Apple would have to pay t
  • by Yhippa (443967) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:32PM (#14510160) Homepage Journal
    It should be easier to switch to AMD or other X86 platforms in the future, opening up more negotiation possibilities.
  • by rahrens (939941) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:32PM (#14510168)
    The article didn't mention overhead. You can bet that there is a cost associated with the overall organization, plus the physical plant, R&D, etc. that most likely brings the costs way up from where the article puts them!
    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:49PM (#14510352) Homepage Journal
      Actually if you consider Apple's overall "profit margin" for the last quarter, they grossed 5.65 billion and netted 565 million, so if you go just by last quarter, their overall profit margin is 10%, IIRC still much greater than Dells, but nowhere near what the article makes it out to be.
    • by ivan256 (17499) *
      that most likely brings the costs way up from where the article puts them!

      Actually, why do people keep believing articles like this where "expert analysts" predict the manufacturing costs of some given electronic product? There is almost never documentable evidence that they are right, and frequently they can be shown to be horribly wrong in hindsight.

      The fact of the matter is that when a successful company brings a product to market, it's usually because they figured out how to make it cheaper than was gen
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:34PM (#14510185) Homepage Journal
    It is odd to me that Apple leverages so much into specific processors rather than specific processes. It would seem to me that Apple really has a great interface -- and that is the product they want to sell. With their OS kernel being based on some *nix variety (BSD? I can't remember) I would guess that the processor itself is unimportant if their software and APIs are hardware transparent.

    Here's the great thing about the market and letting it lead you (instead of the other way around) when you are an OS or software provider -- you can focus on writing good clean code, and follow up that code with the hardware that offers your code the absolute best package given the infinite choices.

    Power management, heat creation, MIPS, FLOPS, BOPS, GHZ, THZ, MB, MBps, whatever the hardware does best, there's always a ratio to price. That's the great thing about the free market, though, competititors will always want to beat the other.

    What is stopping Apple or another software company from offering the best darn interface for programmers and users to work with, and then find the processor to wrap the interface around? Is this Apple goal with Intel, possibly? Shake up IBM (and show smaller processor companies that they, too, have a chance) and create an operating system that must now work with 2 (or 10?) completely different processor subsystems? Is this Apple showing that they can get away from hardware entirely, and focus just on software?
    • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:43PM (#14510291) Homepage
      "What is stopping Apple or another software company from offering the best darn interface for programmers and users to work with, and then find the processor to wrap the interface around?"

      I think the problem is that Apple is a software company that makes its living as a hardware company. And to make money from hardware, they have to be perceived as different from their competition. If you follow what you're saying to it's logical end, you come up with a solution that says "Apple should not sell hardware, they should write software that runs anywhere".

      I'm sure Jobs experience with NeXT tells him that selling an operating system, his experience watching Gasse sell BeOS tells him he doesn't want to compete with Microsoft on that basis. So he's chosen a middle ground that appears to be increasingly difficult to maintain differentiation on the hardware side.

      The next few years will be interesting for Apple, that's for sure.
      • Indeed. To cover a few replies to my initial comment, my thought is for Apple to basically develop the new version of their software (whatever it may be) and then pitch to have hardware people design their hardware for the software. Apple then finalizes the key hardware abstraction layer, and maximizes the price:performance for the package they'll sell.

        They're not really going to sell the software only -- they'll still sell the package, but each new package could be a totally different configuration.

        I gue
      • by Ryan Amos (16972) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:16PM (#14510623)
        Everyone forgets, but Apple has had a smooth transition between architectures before. They moved from the Motorola M680X0 architecture to the PowerPC by using mixed binaries, and had very few problems. There were some initial growing pains (extensions that would bomb the system, etc,) but by and large the transition went smoothly.

        And that was on System 7; OS X is a much more portable operating system. A simple recompile is all that's necessary for most programs without a lot of assembler optimization.

        They'll maintain differentiation with case design. Don't expect Apple to ship ATX systems; they moved to Intel because laptops are quickly becoming the standard, not desktops. Every laptop manufacturer uses custom designs anyway, and the IBM chips were really designed for servers and workstations (the POWER line at least,) not laptops.

        One bonus is that they no longer have to emulate the x86 to do windows emulation, just translate the APIs. Apple has also written stuff like this before; with Classic mode on OS X. In 2 or 3 years I wouldn't be surprised to see Windows .exes run under OS X as if they were native applications.

        Apple has their foot in the door of consumers' wallets/minds with the iPod. Now that everyone and their mother (literally) has an iPod, they'll be more open to purchasing a Mac as their next computer. With users becoming increasingly fed up with viruses and spyware, Macs are a very attractive option to many people. Once the price comes down a little bit (which I suspect it will once they ramp up full scale production on Intel) I see nothing but good things for Apple.
    • by AugstWest (79042) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:44PM (#14510297)

      What is stopping Apple or another software company from offering the best darn interface for programmers and users to work with, and then find the processor to wrap the interface around?


      Apple is not a software company. They are a hardware company. It's that simple. They build really solid, nifty hardware that apparently reaches fetish level for a certain market, and they've learned to turn that market into money.

      The problem with being completely platform agnostic is that they would compeltely have to change their product line and manufacturing processes far too often, plus all of the porting from platform to platform would be a nightmare of its own.
      • by adrianmonk (890071) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:58PM (#14511035)
        Apple is not a software company. They are a hardware company. It's that simple. They build really solid, nifty hardware that apparently reaches fetish level for a certain market, and they've learned to turn that market into money.

        I would argue that they're not a software company, but they're not a hardware company either. Instead, they're an integrated system company. Years ago, before the PC and Windows (and Linux, which has the same model) took over, you bought both an operating system and a computer. The two were pretty much inseperable. (This was how the IBM PC started out, as well as the Mac, the Amiga, the Atari ST, the Commodore 64, the Apple ][, etc. And the same thing was true before personal computers: VAX machines had VMS, IBM machines had one of IBM's 99 different operating systems, etc.)

        These days, not as many people are doing the same thing. Certainly if you buy a machine from Dell, Dell is working with Microsoft to make sure the system has all the right drivers. But that's not quite the same thing as an integrated platform where hardware design and software design are done by the same organization. Integrated hardware and software designs are available from Apple and also a few other companies like Sun. And the interesting thing is that both Apple and Sun have now adopted some x86 chips. Sun has Opteron servers and workstations available but continues to make new SPARC chips (including Niagara, a whole new series of chips), and Apple is using Intel chips in desktops and laptops.

        For what it's worth, there is some value in an integrated system. Knowing that all the hardware and software come from the same place gives you a greater degree of confidence that it will all just work together. And if it doesn't, when you call for support, you are dealing with only one organization, so the blame game ("it must be the other vendor's product, not ours") is less likely. A certain percentage of the people are willing to pay a bit of a premium for these advantages, so that gives Apple (and Sun) a market that is a bit different from the regular market, which gives them a niche to play in.

        Of course, it doesn't hurt that Apple has really snazzy industrial design and that people look at an Apple laptop and instantly want one without yet even knowing what's inside. Think of the amount of appeal PowerBooks have had for the last few years even despite the fact that they still contain slow G4 processors.

      • Their software attracts the customers, but their hardware pays the bills. So, not only do they have to push hardware, they can't afford to untie it from the OS. Using a non-mainstream chip has been a form of lock-in, finally abandoned only under unsupportable pressure due to economies of scale.
    • but a large portion of what Apple sells is the "total experience" for want of a better word. The first Apple product I bought was an Airport Express. You can't believe the design that went into the packaging--it was a thing of beauty. The experience of opening up the well-designed box and finding all the bits and pieces nealy laid out was something that really made a big impression on me.

      While I agree that Apple's OS has a lovely interface (and I just bought my first Mac, a powerbook, this week) I don't thi
    • No Apple is at heart a hardware company. It tried in the past to sell its operating system and let others build and sell the hardware and it quickly realized thats a money loser (or atleast not as much money as it takes to keep a company as large as apple afloat). Microsoft gets away with it because they make most of their money on highend server software. Apple is nowhere close to being able to compete in that market. Theoretically Apple could survive on the money that MS makes just in licensing its OS to
  • OK, we know that Apple uses desktops and laptops to justify the switch to Intel, but what does this bode for the future of the Xserve line?

    If Apple's going to be commodity CPU on the server front, then there's no incentive on the hardware front to pay for Apple.
    • by avalys (221114) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:39PM (#14510239)
      If Apple's going to be commodity CPU on the server front, then there's no incentive on the hardware front to pay for Apple.

      Uh, why do you say that? You're saying that the only important hardware consideration for a server is what brand of CPU it uses. All Intel servers are otherwise equally desirable, and all AMD servers are otherwise equally desirable.

      That's obviously not the case.

      And really, no one in the past five years bought an Apple because of the PowerPC processor. They bought one despite it, because the hardware was great otherwise, and because the OS was great.

      • Well I bought an iBook because it was powerful enough to do what I wanted it to do and because the PowerPC processor hardly needed the fan. Because it ran cooler than any of the x86s processors at the time (middle of last year) I could have a neat little A4 sized laptop which was slim and cool and quiet. I compare it with my work Dell laptop which weighs at least twice as much, is at least twice the volume and actually doesn't seem to be any quicker compiling the same (cross platform) code I develop. The
    • Intel-based Xserves will still include a license for OS X Server. If you don't consider than an incentive, then you're not the target market anyway.
    • Build quality , support quality and OS/Software quality
  • Cool (Score:2, Interesting)

    by umbrellasd (876984)
    Wasn't so long ago that people were touting the RISC design of PowerPC as a big power saver. Fewer instructions, less heat. The first iMac was the one of the quietest computers I had ever owned; I recall the Apple IIe being similar. I guess that changed, but I do not know when.

    The Cell processor is an IBM creation. Several are going into the Playstation 3, so will this require a fan? Seems IBM is still building cooler chips and Intel is not the only one that cares about it.

    Don't really have the de

    • Brainiac design (Score:5, Interesting)

      by argent (18001) <peter@slashdot.2 ... m ['nga' in gap]> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:02PM (#14510483) Homepage Journal
      The G5 is a "brainiac" design, a big complex chip with a long highly parallelized pipeline. This is a relatively new approach for RISC chips, which have typically concentrated on a small core, short pipeline, and simple design with a lot of "close" cache.

      Intel's Pentium chips have all been "brainiac"s to some extent, but none so much as the P4... which they've backed away from. The new chips in the new Macs are less like the G5 or P4 and, while not exactly as clean and tight as the G4, are closer to it than they are to the real brainiacs.

      But there's nothing wrong with the G4 core as a core. Taking the G4 core and giving it a faster bus, the way Intel's taken the PII/PIII core and given it a faster bus in Yonah, would have made a lot more sense. And Freescale's got one like that in the pipeline. They could have called it the "G5 Mobile". :)
      • Re:Brainiac design (Score:3, Informative)

        by Animats (122034)
        The G5 is a "brainiac" design, a big complex chip with a long highly parallelized pipeline. This is a relatively new approach for RISC chips, which have typically concentrated on a small core, short pipeline, and simple design with a lot of "close" cache.

        It's been many years since fast "RISC" chips were simple. It's very straightforward to design a RISC CPU that executes one instruction per clock. I once met the design team for a midrange MIPS CPU, and it was about 15 people. The design team for the P

      • Freescale 8641D (Score:4, Informative)

        by frankie (91710) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @03:08PM (#14511814) Journal
        Freescale's e600 dualcore G4 has been "in the pipeline" for the past 2 years with no sign of pouring out. On paper it should compare quite favorably to Yonah ... if it ever ships. Yonah has a slight advantage in that department.
    • Re:Cool (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BrookHarty (9119) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:24PM (#14510699) Homepage Journal
      Well, to be fair, at the time Intel was pushing the heat pump P4 against the PPC. Now intel dropped back to the P3, modified it, called it the pentium-m, now the duo-core. They had to do a 180 and rethink their roadmap.

      I think the greatest thing will be virtualized intel cpu's running multiple copies of OSX for servers. Or even Windows and OSX. Apple xserves will look very attractive now when can do anything, have apple quality hardware, and have true migration to any OS or software that you need. Brilliant move.
  • Apple, AMD (Score:2, Funny)

    by Piroca (900659)

    AMD fanboy's logic

    Intel loses market share to AMD
    Apple moves to Intel
    Therefore, Apple loses market share to AMD

  • by 246o1 (914193) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:38PM (#14510230)
    I'm a Mac user, and I've been keeping an ear to the ground, but I haven't heard any mention of the new MacBooks having improved battery life over the 'old' PowerBooks, so I am guessing the reverse is true (or much would be made of the better battery life). Of course, there are lots of other reasons for the move than just lower power consumption, and even on that front, there's no way of knowing right now if the new MacBooks will have lower unit-of-power/unit-of-computational-power costs. With the possibility that the new chips provide better-than-G5 performance in a laptop, well, there's certainly something going right with this switch, even if Intel doesn't have the best reputation for efficient, cool chips.
    • by podperson (592944) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:45PM (#14510307) Homepage
      Your assumptions are somewhat flawed here. The Core Duo chips don't save power vs the G4, but versus the G5 which simply wouldn't work in a laptop at all.

      The G4 had a great processing/watt ratio -- for its time. So did the G3. So did the 603. However, each new generation of laptop used MORE power to get FAR MORE processing done.
      • I guess I responded a little hastily and unclearly to the line quoted in the summary: "IBM's chips are power-hungry and generate a lot of heat, and therefore not suitable to notebook computers."

        The implication covers more than just the G5; though to be fair, later in the paragraph the author narrows the focus of this statement, something that I would have gotten if I'd RTFA before firing off that post.

        Mea Culp Mea Culpa Mea Maxima Culpa
    • They didn't mention battery life even ONCE during the keynote, and there's no mention of it anywhere on the web that I've been able to find.

      My Macbook should be in the first shipment (my department is paying for it, not me), I'm eager to see how long it will last.
    • The New MacBook Pros are the (very) rough equivalent of a dual-core G5 Powerbook. The point is that Apple made a notebook vastly superior to the current powerbook (or will be, once everything is native) with similar battery life, while only marginally increasing battery size. This means that the new MacBook Pro is more energy efficient. I'm sure the MacBooks [iBook replacements] will have great battery life, because they'll be no where near the performance level of the MacBook Pros.
    • There is also no mention of the new MacBook curing cancer and not eating puppies. There for the inverse must be true, it'll consume your pets and give you cancer!
  • Power grab (Score:5, Funny)

    by digitaldc (879047) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:38PM (#14510232)
    "IBM's chips are power-hungry and generate a lot of heat..."

    In a related news item, IBM chips are now running for elected office worldwide.
  • by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:42PM (#14510273)
    This is why I'm confused about the push to "All Intel, All the Time!" Apple, with Mac OS X's Unix and NeXT roots, should embrace a multi-platform strategy to get the most bang for its buck wherever it can. The PowerPC-derived Cell will rock for workstation and servers, and the Meron will kick major butt for home user kit. Best tool for the job, and just compile for the famous NeXT "Fat Binary." Back in the day, the same NeXT executable would run on 68040, Sparc, PA-RISC and Pentiums. Why not now? Why tie yourself to x86 alone, when there are better alternatives to fit the niche you're targeting?

    Too much politics, and not enough engineering.

    ~ SoupIsGood Food
    • Presumably because Intel desperately want market share, and will do deals to get it, epecially in 4% chunks like Apple has - it honestly wouldn't surprise me if Apple was getting their CPUs at or below cost. Apple's decision to rule out AMD and future IBM chips clearly isn't an engineering one, so it must be a financial one.
    • by Zathrus (232140) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:37PM (#14510821) Homepage
      The PowerPC-derived Cell will rock for workstation and servers

      And this conjecture is based on what? Certainly not any real world evidence. The Cell architecture is completely untested and a radically new design for a commodity chip. On paper it looks decent, but so did Itanium (and, technically, Itanium is quite good... except that the software has never been able to properly exploit it. Much the same may be true for Cell).

      Back in the day, the same NeXT executable would run on 68040, Sparc, PA-RISC and Pentiums.

      Yeah, and look at what a fantastic success story that was! I mean, we have NeXT cubes everywhere now!

      Frankly, it's a drawback. Software developers have to certify their code on multiple platforms if you do that, and that's hideously expensive. Sure, you can claim that you can compile for one and it'll work on them all, but know what? That's a lie. It's always been a lie and it always will be one.

      Writing cross-platform code isn't as hard now as it used to be, but it's still not trivial. Even if you're talking about different CPU architectures on the same OS. We see that at my workplace running on HP-UX when it comes to PA-RISC vs Itanium; we develop on PA-RISC, but some of our customers run on newer hardware and we cannot replicate the bugs. And this is for software that compiles on several flavors of Unix and Windows, across more CPU types than I care to list, and under at least 3 different compilers. We've already done the hard work of writing cross-platform, cross-OS code, and yet same-platform/different-CPU bugs still happen.

      You throw that kind of crap at your average development house and they'll do one of two things -- only develop for the most popular configuration (thus helping to marginalize the others) or just develop for another platform that doesn't have these issues (e.g. -- Windows and x86).
  • Given the fact that AMD has taken market share from Intel (as documented in the previous post) and their stock value nosedived (http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/17/technology/intel_ analysis/index.htm [cnn.com] for more), perhaps it's Intel that needs the help?
  • by palad1 (571416) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:48PM (#14510342)
    I don't know what it costs Apple, but I sure know the change to Intel will cost me about 2000 .
  • by Alcimedes (398213) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:02PM (#14510478)
    Apple decided years ago that laptops were going to be the future, and the age of giant towers was coming to a close, and odds are that's true.

    Small, lower power chips that put out decent numbers are worth more to most people that large, power hungry chips that put out phenominal numbers. It's funny, the story below talks about AMD chips outselling Intel chips in the desktop. At the end of the day though, I fear AMD is taking over a market segment as it's being abandoned, nothing more.
  • Apple Clones (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cyphertube (62291)
    I'm just waiting for the notebook manufacturers out there to start cloning the Apple machines, and stick a cooler processor in with a bigger battery. The specs for the Apple machines aren't unknown, and they are using mostly market pieces.

    Yeah, I won't have an Apple that lights up, but I won't be paying the Apple toll for the same hardware either. And, chances are, I'll be able to use OS X.n anyway.
  • by shawnce (146129) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:30PM (#14510762) Homepage
    On thing that is not called out in this article (at least not well) is that Apple is saving R&D costs and R&D time by not having to develop its own chipset like is has done in the past. Instead Apple is utilizing Intel developed and manufactured chipsets. Intel has the economy of large volumes for their chipsets, Apple did not.

    When Apple was making its own chipsets they could only afford to revamp them every couple of years because of the low volumes in relation the development cost and manufacturing tooling and ramp. Now Apple can refresh their chipset and product offering as often as Intel does without excess cost.

    The component costs per unit may be higher but saving in both time and money other places will help make up for that.
  • by tmoertel (38456) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @04:31PM (#14512741) Homepage Journal
    Apple switched to Intel's architecture because hardware was the only place where Apple's computing business was vulnerable to competitors such as Dell. Now that Apple is using the same architecture that everybody else is, hardware will diminish as a competitive factor. Software will increasingly determine which computers the average consumer wants to purchase.

    And when it comes to software, Apple has no peer. Apple consistently creates great applications that normal people want to use. Apple's competition, on the other hand, has demonstrated -- repeatedly -- that they cannot do the same.

    So that's the reason for the switch to Intel. Apple has moved what used to be a two-front war onto a single battlefield where it has the ability to outmaneuver all opponents.

    Smart move. Expect Apple to capture some market share.

  • by DECS (891519) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @04:52PM (#14512932) Homepage Journal
    ISupply has been getting a lot of press about their analysis of how much manufacturers pay for parts, but where is the evidence that suggests iSupply has any inside information?

    Their analysis on Apple's part costs for the Core Duo processor are simply, "we guessed Apple gets a 10% discount," but they offer no basis for that. Apple apparently negotiated a 50% volume discount over retail in Flash RAM from Samsung. iSupply gives no suggestion where they get their 10% figure, so for all we know, they just pulled it out of their ass.

    The sensationalism surrounding iSupply's reports (available in full for a fee) make it clear that, while iSupply is in the business of selling information, it has all the integrity of a tabloid like World Weekly News or the Enquirer.

    First they released sensationalist PR that suggested that Apple was making crazy money on the iPod Nano (now pay to read the whole report!), and now they release sensationalist PR that suggests that Apple is almost losing money on the Intel based iMac (now pay to read the whole report!). The truth is clearly not as extreme as their PR flacks spun it in either case.

    Of course, on its own, a simple guess on the total cost of parts doesn't sound very exciting. But even with a sensationalist headline, a simple guess on the total cost of parts isn't very valuable.

    Journalism in general has been coasting along for some time on the reputation of a former institution that earned credibility based on dutiful, responsible reporting standards and a self imposed ethic. Professional journalism is been replaced by cheaper PR editors (within newspapers charged with first making a profit rather than providing a public service) and independent bloggers who scribble whatever comes to mind without bothering to check facts (or assume their recollection of reality is the same as a report based on facts from attributed, verifiable sources).

    The lines between [opinion/conjecture] or [commercial/political messages] and [unbiased and objective journalism] are being blurred to the point where the general public doesn't seem to even remember that they are different things.

    iSupply is a good example of presenting your personal blog/business as if it were a credible news report.

    Until iSupply can provide some basis that suggests they have any real insight into secret pricing deals, their figures are worthless. So far, all they've released is guess work based on what appears to be poor assumptions.

  • IBM's chips.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rdean400 (322321) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @07:00PM (#14514013)
    "IBM's chips are power hungry and generate a lot of heat, and are therefore not suitable for notebook computers."

    This is a selective interpretation of the truth. The portion of the Power family that is used in Apple products generates a lot of heat because it's based on older Power4 technology. IBM's processor roadmaps include smaller-footprint chips just like Intel's do.

    It is unlikely that Apple's move is simply about the roadmap due to power consumption. Power architecture is used in everything from cell phones to big honkin' servers. No, it's more likely that IBM's roadmap simple doesn't hit the same performance and power consumption points that Apple wants to hit.
  • Apple has been trying to kill the classic Mac OS and replace it with NextStep, I mean OpenStep, errr, Rhapsody... since 1997. The original plan was for all new development to be in what's now Cocoa and was at the time called Yellow Box, and legacy apps would run in a simpler version of Classic that basically ran a whole OS 7 or 8 session in a single window, called Blue Box.

    The ISVs, paricularly Adobe, plotzed. There was a major row with threats of abandoning the platform, and Apple backed off, improved Classic, came up with Carbon as a transition API, and brought out OS 9 and eventually OS X.

    Steve Jobs reportedly had wanted to go with Intel as soon as possible. He thought Apple had made a mistake switching to the Power PC while he was away at NeXT. OpenStep ran on Intel, of course, and Apple had versions of Rhapsody that ran on Intel boxes, even on generic clones. They had a fat binary mechanism in OpenStep that supported by the end as many as five different processor architectures.

    And that's why intel. Not because IBM screwed up, but because it was in their long term roadmap and had been for years.

    But obviously... that wouldn't fly if they couldn't even cram classic Mac OS off in Blue Box.

    But they kept their Intel code base alive, and every other year, about, they tested the waters by trying to stop offering a Mac that could boot up into OS 9.

    Every time there was a user revolt.

    Until late 2004. The last G4 that could boot to OS 9 disappeared from the Apple store, without any fanfare. And, apparently, there just weren't that many people dependent on OS 9 to make enough noise to notice.

    A little over 6 months later, they announced the Intel switch.

    Rosetta will run all legacy Power PC applications... well, all legacy Carbon and Cocoa applications that run on OS X. They're not running Classic under Rosetta. Classic is dead.

    And nobody's bitching about that, either. Which means they guessed right, and Apple can finally drive a stake into the heart of Classic Mac OS and leave it behind for good.

    And that's why they did it now. Because they could.

Natural laws have no pity.

Working...