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Intel Technology (Apple) Technology

Apple to Use Intel Chips? 920

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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  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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 gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <giles.jones@NoSpAM.zen.co.uk> on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:30AM (#12611273)
    This might be video hardware or network chips.

    I can't for one minute imagine Apple replacing nice fairly cool and power efficient PPC chips for hot running 100+ watt monstrosities from Intel.
  • by rovingeyes ( 575063 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:30AM (#12611274)
    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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:30AM (#12611278)
    Just USB 2.0 chips? Or x64 processors? Or perhaps ARM cpus for next generation iPods/Newtons?
  • 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 selderrr ( 523988 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:31AM (#12611288) Journal
    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 0x461FAB0BD7D2 ( 812236 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:32AM (#12611295) Journal
    To get a better deal from IBM. That would lower their costs and lower the prices of the Macs.

    Essentially they're shifting part of the cost burden to IBM, while keeping their share of the profits intact, in an attempt to boost their sales.

    Also, it could be an attempt to make sure that IBM, with its focus on the PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Revolution, does not forget about Apple.
  • 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
  • by Dominatus ( 796241 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:35AM (#12611329)
    Are you serious? The G5 generates a ton of heat. Why do you think you haven't seen G5 powerbooks yet?
  • 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 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.)
  • Re:AMD? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by El Cabri ( 13930 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:36AM (#12611343) Journal
    Why would it be ? You think AMD has some magical trick to make processors at a cheaper cost ? If boxed processors from AMD are cheaper than Intel it's because they HAVE TO. AMD is the challenger, and that's how it works in all domain of economics : the market leader can afford to price higher that's all. Are you privvy to the deals that are actually made between Intel and the likes of Dell or IBM ? What to you know of their high quantitiy pricing policy ?

    The fact is, if Apple wants to go x86 (which I think they should), they'll consider both Intel and AMD, talk to them, see what they can get and make a strategic desicison. If Intel decides that it's worth it then they'll underbid AMD. Or maybe Apple might decide that they want a supplier that is more reliable for delivering big quantity orders given that they've themselves been bitten so often by back-ordering problems.
  • by defy god ( 822637 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:36AM (#12611344)
    safari, iWork, final cut, iCal, iChat, iTunes, iMovie, iDVD (not to mention the PRO versions), MS office (yeah, right..), Photoshop, Illustrator.. okay.. you get the point.
  • 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.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:41AM (#12611387)
    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.
  • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:41AM (#12611391) Homepage Journal
    For the n-th time, what would Apple have to gain?

    Really. I mean, everyone knows that software companies [microsoft.com] can't make any money.
  • by Momoru ( 837801 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:47AM (#12611432) Homepage Journal
    Well for one thing, anyone considering using OS X would only need to buy just the OS, not a whole bunch of expensive hardware as well. I was the biggest macophile in the past, but had to switch to using Windows for work and school...now OS X is the "in" thing, and i'd love to check it out, but I'm not going to buy a bunch of hardware just to play with it. If it were as simple as just installing a dual boot on my current PC, i'd do it in a second.
  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:48AM (#12611442) Homepage Journal
    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?
    Hold on. This isn't the same proposal as has been made before. We're talking about an Intel-chip based Mac, not a Mac that's a PC clone. We're talking about an OS X that runs on an Intel-chip based Mac, not an OS X that runs on a generic IBM PC clone.

    People would buy a Mac instead of a Dell for the same reason as they do today - a nice, well integrated, computer system with a decent OS. Few people buy a Mac thinking to themselves "Dude, this has a PowerPC! That's 32 32 bit general purpose registers, and a RISC based architecture based upon IBM's attempt to create a next generation mainframe and minicomputer platform in the late eighties!"

    The only downside this would have against a PowerPC Mac is that older software wouldn't run on it. That's not an issue if you don't have any older software. About 95% of computer uses do not have older versions of any software.

    And yes, Microsoft shouldn't have a problem releasing an Intel version of Office for OS X: just as long, that is, as Apple doesn't start selling OS X for generic IBM PC clones.

  • by geoffspear ( 692508 ) * on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:52AM (#12611468) Homepage
    Please explain the process whereby Apple will convert everyone's old applications into fat binaries. Without access to the source.
  • by TylerL82 ( 617087 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:57AM (#12611507) Homepage
    I'm sure that Apple could make a 2.5" thick MegaBook to compete with the high-end desktop-chip-in-laptop offerings of Dell n' Friends.

    Is that what everybody wants from Apple?
    An unwieldy leviathan with an hour battery life?
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by TylerL82 ( 617087 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:01AM (#12611537) Homepage
    I mean, honestly, what about this graphic says "fairly cool" to you?

    The fact that those are large fans that aren't spinning at full speed.
    They keep the computer as cool as it needs to be while being much quieter than the 2-3 fan PCs with fans spinning their lil' hearts (motors?) out.
  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:02AM (#12611544) Journal
    The transition to powerpc was not a change of architecture, it was an upgrade in architecture. x86 is an entirely different architecture with an entirely different instruction set.

    Not to mention, the PowerPC processor is the only edge Macs have left on PC hardware. If Apple goes x86 the Mac will simply be an overpriced PC running a pretty gui on top of BSD.
  • by Shisha ( 145964 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:03AM (#12611553) Homepage
    Valid point. They won't of course. I've been assuming that the major players would release appropriate versions sometime in the future. I know there are problems with this:
    - Quark Xpress might take ages (again, remember how long OS X version took).
    - Microsoft might actually not want to release office at all.

    (actually maybe they could convert things on the fly and then cache the results, sort of a better emulation process... there is some mention of something along those lines on macrumors.com. It'll be a bit like running Java bytecode. They could then profile the things on the fly and optimize the most used parts of the program... JVM do all sorts of clever trickery nowdays.)

    Anyway this is all purely hypothetical. Apple's not moving to x86 CPUs. As other people said, it's probably some random chip they might want from Intel.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:06AM (#12611577)
    Nope, it was not a x86 chip.

    http://apple.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=63475&ci d=5908051 [slashdot.org]
  • 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 3770 ( 560838 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:07AM (#12611585) Homepage
    Apple is all about spectacular announcements!

    And if they announce a machine based off of any Intel technology I'd be more "Why?" than "Wow!".

    If I was Apple I'd be far more interested in creating a machine based on the CELL processor.

    It is fast. It is cheap (at least it should be considering it is in the PS3). It is not compatible with the PC market. It is based off of POWER which will make it easy for Apple to use it.

    And finally, the CELL is _sexy_.

    Photoshop seems to be a very important benchmark for Apple. If they go with CELL that has one main CPU and 8 auxilliary CPU's (and with Photoshop being suitable for multiprocessor systems) the CELL would likely "kill" any Intel platform in benchmarks.
  • by imroy ( 755 ) <imroykun@gmail.com> on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:07AM (#12611588) Homepage Journal
    Intel bought the StrongARM processor design from Digital a number of years ago. They now produce them under the Xscale brand. They've been used in heaps of devices, including the Compaq iPAQ, and lots of small embedded boards [gumstix.com]. Apple has previously used AMD's MIPS-based processors in some of their Airport AP's. Given the Xscale's low power/heat and relative processing power, I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple use the Xscale in another funky little portable device.
  • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:08AM (#12611597)
    I don't see any "PPC is vastly superior posts" -- other than yours, which refutes this seeming non-starter of an argument by scattering a bunch of the usual rumor rationales in the hopes that some of the seeds will take root.

    Meanwhile none of your points address the obvious problems pointed out elsewhere: that Apple has denied the rumor (for the umptieth time), that Apple's a hardware shop that might not compete with Dells that could run the same OS, and so on. Breathless arguments on the level of "probably double the value of their shares if not even tripple (sic) them" are even less convincing than a John Dvorak prediction, which is pretty far down the food chain for me.

    If this is true, it means Apple has decided to go head to head with MS as an OS shop and make its money that way. That's what people call a "paradigm shift," and a radical one, at a moment when every recent example shows us that Jobs is continuing to do what he does best: sell the hardware by using the OS and interface grace points as a break-even loss leader. (iTunes as loss leader for iPods, iLife suite to sell each new generation of boxes, and so on.)

  • by cirisme ( 781889 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:10AM (#12611622) Homepage
    >> If you could buy the parts and build your own Mac they'd be alot more appealing to people...

    No, it wouldn't. A lot more appealing to geeks, perhaps, but not people in general. Most people don't build their own systems, but buy the cheapest crap from Dell, HP, Gateway, etc.

  • Re:unbelievable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:18AM (#12611694) Homepage
    It is amazing how many people still believe that PPC is vastly superior to x86.

    I don't. But it is considerably much more "on par" than the G4 ever was, and they weren't changing then, why would they now? It is almost impossible to emulate PPC on x86. I don't know if x86-64 is any better, it should be because of the added registers but it'd probably still run slow.

    I'm sure apple has a drop-in ready box for running x86/Mac, but it'll essentially be the same box as today except for the CPU socket, at the same price (no, the CPU is a damn little part of the total box). How would that bring any new customers at all? Not to mention x86 OS X is so much easier to pirate than PPC OS X. Chances are if you are running OS X, you probably paid for it at least once every HW upgrade.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:20AM (#12611713)
    Going out on a limb here: yes.

    Keeping my feet on the ground here: No.

    We will see Windows on PowerPC long before we ever see the full OS X on x86. There's absolutely no advantage to changing platforms at this point.

    Sure, the Intel/AMD world looked very attractive when Apple was relying on Motorola and lagging way behind in CPU speeds, but current PowerPC technologies from IBM are outstanding. The G5 is a terrific chip. Multi-core PowerPC chips offer a great deal of promise in the very near future.

    If Apple does move away from the G5 archetecture, it will be to go to Cell chips, not Intel-64.
  • by lokedhs ( 672255 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:21AM (#12611716)
    If you could buy the parts and build your own Mac they'd be alot more appealing to people...
    In so many words: No, they wouldn't.

    Very few people build their own computers. Most buy a box from their local computer store, or order it online from a company like Dell.

    Also, no one would run OSX on a standard PC. Just like no one runs BeOS, or ran OS/2. An x86 Apple would probably be a proprietary Apple with an x86 in, and no one would care. Just like no one cares that there is a PowerPC in them today.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:25AM (#12611755)
    Maybe because the Cell has ended up to be all hype...

    Bad news for Sony, then. Looks like they will have no chips to put in their PS3 next Winter.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:28AM (#12611775)
    Bottom line is that open architecture is superior to closed architecture. x86 is actually a shitty architecture when you get right down to it, but at least it is open.

    Can you give an example of a non-shitty open archetecture to support your point?

    Or is your belief that "open architecture is superior" simply a matter of your religious dogma?
  • Re:unbelievable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:31AM (#12611794) Homepage Journal
    It is amazing how many people still believe that PPC is vastly superior to x86.

    I'm amazed at how many people still think that any performance gap (real or perceived) actually matters. The majority of your PC's performance now comes from the size of the bus, the transfer rate of your disks, and how much memory you have. No one really *needs* a 5GHz processor to run a wordprocessor, email client, MP3 player, or even something more intensive like a graphics editor, video editor, or sound studio. Even games now rely far more heavily on the GPU than they do the CPU.
  • by adzoox ( 615327 ) * on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:32AM (#12611803) Journal
    Apple Sells ARM shares after discontinuing Newton, upon Steve Jobs return to Apple [themacobserver.com]

    Apple WAS a MAJOR developmental partner in ARM for the Newton - the processor line was GREATLY enhanced during the Newton run.

    So was Sharp - probably shoulda googled before that statement!
  • by arloguthrie ( 318071 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:42AM (#12611902) Homepage
    Most notably, the XServe Raid runs on an Intel processor [com.com]. There are tons of reasons Apple would be meeting with Intel. One day, perhaps "the news" will actually be news and not gossip based on "a friend-of-a-friend told me..."
  • by Inkieminstrel ( 812132 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:47AM (#12611951) Homepage
    I think the GP meant that despite the fact that x86 is a bad architecture, it is the dominant one, and it is dominant because the market favors a bad open architecture over a good closed one.

    In this case superior means which one will win in the market, not which one is the best design-wise.
  • by Tenebrious1 ( 530949 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:47AM (#12611955) Homepage
    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 googlebites hard memory, and Intel Inside".

    Would it increase Mac sales by having an "Intel Inside" sticker on it? Maybe not, but it would have a lot more consumer brand recognition.

  • Re:O really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Golias ( 176380 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @10:50AM (#12611983)
    Actually, the proper English is "think differentLY."

    Only if you are asking people to think in a different manner.

    The Apple tag line is suggesting to people that they should think about the concept of being different.

    Therefore they say, "think different."

    It's not correct formal grammar, but it is perfectly valid conversational English.
  • 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:Apple Denies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neo ( 4625 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @11:04AM (#12612122)
    Historically when news agencies leak Apple news, they end up in court. If Apple hasn't sued anyone about this, then it's not true.
  • by fitten ( 521191 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @11:13AM (#12612192)
    Technically, those PPCs that can flip endianness on the fly are actually native in either mode. Set the mode and until you change it back, the PPC *is* a little endian CPU (or big endian, depending on how you set it).

    Data storage is an issue but not one that is that complicated. In fact, it's not that painful to do endian swaps on x86-64 processors, for example, because there's a dedicated instruction in the ISA to do it. If the binary data files have an identifier in them (version number, etc.) then the swap can be done on the fly pretty fast and easily. I worked on a product (back in the early 90s) that had to have all I/O (network, HDD, etc) able to handle endianness issues on the fly because our product ran on both big- and little-endian machines and all were expected to work together in any combinations (server side on either type independently of client side being either type). It's not that hard if your software is written reasonably well (all particular I/O handled in libraries inside your code instead of spread out all over Hell's 40 acres).

    And I agree with you about XML being a pig... it uses a lot of CPU cycles but at least it's a memory hog, too /rolleyes
  • 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.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Monday May 23, 2005 @11:20AM (#12612254) Homepage Journal
    I would bet good money that not 10% of people who buy Macs have ANY idea what kind of processor is in the system -- in fact, the majority of them probably think it has "Intel Inside", since "that's what computers use, right?".

    I think you're wrong about this, simply because buying a Mac these days is a deliberate decision. People who just want "a computer" go to Wal-Mart or Best Buy or Office Depot and get a box with Microsoft(r)(tm)(c) Windows(r)(tm)(c) and Intel(r)(tm)(c) Inside(r)(tm)(c), because "that's what computers use, right?". (Windows no less than Intel.) Using a Mac is like installing Linux on your x86 PC, in that there's usually a fair amount of thought and research that's gone into the choice.
  • by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @11:25AM (#12612304)
    Well for one thing, anyone considering using OS X would only need to buy just the OS, not a whole bunch of expensive hardware as well.

    You'd have to buy OS X and all the software you'd run under OS X.

    C'mon, dude. The Mac mini is only $500. Apple has put out a product that seems to address your complaints about "a whole bunch of expensive hardware" as a barrier to checking OS X out, and yet you still complain about the barrier that's no longer there.
  • Re:unbelievable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday May 23, 2005 @11:45AM (#12612507) Homepage Journal
    Good point, but Apple still ships G4 chips with an obsolete 20th century-style bus.

    Apple ships G4 chips with low-end hardware (where price > performance) and laptops (where low heat & battery > performance). The PowerMac line has the desktop performance demons that are strong competitors to the latest Wintel offerings.

    If PowerPC was truely competitive, Apple would have stopped shipping G4 chips a long time ago.

    If Intel/x86 was truely competitive, they would have stopped shipping Celeron and Pentium M a long time ago.

    Intel has very good marketing. That's why people think that they're always fastest, even when they're not. Low-end and Laptop PCs suffer from many of the same design aspects as low end Macs. This is an intentional characteristic, as it allows for machines to be cheaper for your average user. The high end user is going to have to pay fairly heavily for a top of the line machine.

    As for laptops, Apple has recognized that these machines are not designed to be high-performance machines, but rather computers designed for doing work on the road. So they've designed them to have long battery lives and low heat disappation. Up until the introduction of the Pentium M/Centrino design, x86 laptops tended toward high performance, short battery lives, and massive heat dissapation. (Trust me, it's quite annoying when your Dell is dead after an hour and a half, and the guy with the Mac next to you decides to stop working and throw in a DVD for the next two hours or so.)
  • 500 bucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 5n3ak3rp1mp ( 305814 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @11:45AM (#12612509) Homepage
    500 bucks, about as much as buying Windows XP Pro, for the Mac Mini, will get you a seat. Set up a KVM switch and get the OS X-perience ;)

    You WILL like it, and find a use for it, even if it doesn't become your primary machine.

    Disclaimer: I use a Windows laptop for work and have a beloved G5 at home.
  • 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.

  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Monday May 23, 2005 @11:56AM (#12612646) Homepage
    "one way compatible instruction sets" means they sprinkled magic CPU pixie dust on early PowerPCs, which meant the PowerPC601 could run 68020 code if it closed its eyes and wished hard enough!

    It was called "one-way" because if the PPC wished too hard, for too long, it would stay a 68020 forever! So Apple started writing software that would emulate the 68020 temporarily when the PPC was at risk.

    When the Mac OS was all PPC native code (8.1? 8.5?), the one-way compatibility was turned off and all the PPC chips had to grow up for ever and ever.

    The End.
  • 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...
  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @12:15PM (#12612861) Homepage
    It's not really that crazy. I hypothesized the Itanium idea in another message before I'd read the parent.

    The code base isn't that much of an issue. At the base, it's Unix, and porting Unix-based apps from one architecture to another is relatively painless. (Endianness is an issue, but the IA-64 can handle either big- or little-endian data (instructions are always little-endian)). Of course, a PPC emulator would be required for migration, more easily done on IA-64 than x86[-64].

    The Itanium had speed issues, but this has been addressed with the Itanium2. As far as floating point goes, the IA64 has always been a screamer. Virtualizing an x86 PC would be a breeze.

    There are still plenty of other explanations for Apple and Intel to be talking (if indeed they are) which make more sense, explanations that have nothing to do with Mac CPUs, but the Itanium idea isn't that whacky. Going to the PPC in the first place was pretty much an inspired leap, Apple may be gearing up for another one.
  • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @12:20PM (#12612928) Homepage
    Not to mention, the PowerPC processor is the only edge Macs have left on PC hardware.

    Not true. Apple has two edges. (1) Complete control of hardware and operating system. (2) Mac OS X. Neither of these are PowerPC dependent.

    If Apple goes x86 the Mac will simply be an overpriced PC running a pretty gui on top of BSD.

    Also not true. An x86 Mac would not be yet another PC clone. Apple could keep much of its current proprietary design and ignore IBM PC compatibility. A computer's architecture is much more than it's CPU.
  • Re:Why cheaper!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @12:26PM (#12612992) Homepage Journal
    I dunno, the G5s can use a LOT of power. At full load, a dual 2.0 G5 is rated for 600W. At idle, the same system still consumes 120W. That is the reason that even the G5 "FX" (PPC 750FX?) uses the liquid cooling system for the 2.5 and 2.7 models. That said, for their compute power, these PMG5s are incredibly quiet. I have very quiet Xeon workstations and my PMG5 is faster and quieter than any of them.
  • Yellow Box (Score:2, Insightful)

    by toph42 ( 160730 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @12:51PM (#12613313) Homepage
    I noticed something profound: QuickTime 7 is built on Cocoa (that's why it is Mac-only right now). In order to run on Windows, Apple will have to revive the "Yellow Box" (the Cocoa frameworks on Windows), at least in part. I'm hoping that this means they are about to re-release the Yellow Box with full updates. That would immediately and immensely increase the market for Cocoa apps. And if the Cocoa frameworks are simply included in the QuickTime 7 install, then Cocoa apps compiled to x86 for the Yellow Box could simply list QuickTime 7 as a system requirement. :)
  • by Lars T. ( 470328 ) <Lars.Traeger@goo ... Ncom minus berry> on Monday May 23, 2005 @01:07PM (#12613579) Journal
    On Intel they have SSE, MMX etc. units.

    Yeah, and apart from a lot of differences, they are the same as Velocity Engine.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.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.

  • by javaxman ( 705658 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @01:26PM (#12613886) Journal
    Please explain the process whereby Apple will convert everyone's old applications into fat binaries. Without access to the source.

    If you're going to have a different CPU, clearly you're going to have different binaries. However, I'm not sure you need to be so flippant about it. Do you know about NeXTStep for Intel ? Do you know how hard it was for most companies to recompile their binaries for it? They opened up their projects, pressed "Build" in Project Builder, and it was done. That's how hard it was. The biggest problem was for folks who wrote binary data files ( the endian issue ), but that's pretty easily worked around or avoided, really. The hurdles Apple and it's third party developers would face to provide binaries for *any* gcc-supported CPU are not as huge as many folks seem to think

    Yea, if you had a huge investment in current OS X software, you'd have to buy new copies ( more likely upgrades ) if you bought a different machine. That typically wouldn't be the case, though. I'm going to be using my current Macs for years. Most new Macintosh purchases ( like most new WindowsXP purchases ) require buying some new software.

    However, just because it could be done doesn't mean it will be done. I just don't think they're going to start making Intel-based Macs any time soon- I can't think of a good reason. If they're in talks, it's likely to be about one of the many other types of non-CPU chips Intel makes.

  • by DebianDog ( 472284 ) <danNO@SPAMdanslagle.com> on Monday May 23, 2005 @01:31PM (#12613980) Homepage
    If the mini was a $1000 it would still be a bargain. ;-)

    - Digital hub [apple.com] (Synergenic Applications)
    - Unix based
    - No worms, no viruses
    - Plenty of freeware/Linux ports/3rd party apps

    The Dell is a better deal if time and convenience is of "no value" to you.

  • article misquoted (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eqkivaro ( 721746 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @02:27PM (#12614932)

    Wall Street Journal reports that Apple will agree to use Intel chips

    What the article really reports:

    Apple Computer Inc. has been in talks that could lead to a decision soon to use Intel Corp. chips in its Macintosh computer line, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday

    Apple hasn't agreed to anything.
  • by LionMage ( 318500 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @02:28PM (#12614963) Homepage
    In fact, I worked for Informative Graphics [infograph.com] when there was a project underway to get a native port of their Myriad software working under NT on the DEC Alpha processor. The native port worked, but it was substantially slower than the FX!32 emulator running the x86 version, at least after running the x86 version of the app under emulation a few times. (Like the grandparent poster speculated, the emulation cached the results of opcode translation for future reuse. Eventually, almost 100% of the original application was translated and stored in a disk cache.)

    Then again, the Myriad code was pretty horribly written, and optimized to only compile well under Microsoft's Visual Studio environment. I was stuck on a horrid project porting the code to HPUX and Solaris using MainWin (which basically was a Win32 implementation on top of X11 / POSIX, a porting library for lazy companies that didn't want to invest time and effort in writing truly portable code or rewriting their UI code). Granted, HP's C++ compiler sucked -- it was AT&T Cfront based, and had to be told how to instantiate templates because it had dain-bramaged template support -- but even when we got this stuff working, it wasn't very performant.

    Which brings me to another thought -- if Apple switches to x86 or Itanium, we might be in for similar performance surprises. Some code will obviously benefit from a native recompile, but other code might be more performant with a caching code translation mechanism.
  • by Oculus Habent ( 562837 ) * <oculus...habent@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 23, 2005 @03:07PM (#12615601) Journal
    Just this weekend I came to a realization... Microsoft just recently bought Virtual PC, and I couldn't figure out why. Now, they are offering a PowerPC-based gaming console with backward compatibility to it's x86 system.

    I figure three PowerPC processors @ 3.2Ghz should be able to emulate an Xbox without troule.
  • Punditry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @03:16PM (#12615728) Homepage Journal
    The chief measure of successful punditry is not accuracy, but credibility. Credibility is not based on any particular insight on the part of the public, but on three factors:

    (1) Telling people what they already know or are being told by other credible sources.
    (2) Being considered a credible source.
    (3) Thinking of arguments that sound good suporting what everyone thinks is going to happen.

    If there is a bit of recursion going on here, it's simply because the basis of credibility is so flimsy. It also means that credibility is self-reinforcing, which means the hardest thing about being credible is getting on the credibilty gravy train. Which is good, because there are limited spots avaiable.

    Mr. Dvorak used a time honored method for obtaining credibility of getting in early, on the ground floor.

    From a technical perspective he's a bit late on the Mac/x86 speculation though, which has been rife for nearly twenty years now. However, this is actually a highly sophisticated bit of punditry timing. Apple had been off the punditry radar screen for nearly a decade at the time. You simly cannot excercise punditry on something nobody else is thinking about -- novel ideas have no basis for sounding credibile (see above).

    However, by 2004, it was apparent that Apple was no longer irrelevant, that it had not only stopped the bleeding but had built a successful business, established valuable and powerful brand identity, and had reasserted its influence as a design leader, not only in the computer field, but beyond. So people started thinking about Apple again. And, in the same way that old English roads still bear the ruts of Roman chariots, their thoughts naturally fell into the grassy ruts of the MaxOS x86 idea.

    Mr. Dvorak's 2004 prediction bears the hallmarks of expert punditry. First the conclusion is public property so well broken-in that nobody is apt to mind if it takes a bit of additional abuse. Secondly , of course, is the exquisite timing that only an ear planted firmly on the ground of public opinion can execute, falling on the heels of Apple's successful iMac by a mere six years. This is probably, ifyou will permit me a bit of nelogizing, the minimal period needed for effective punditric credibilogenesis. Any shorter and you're talking about something that nobody is thinking about yet -- disaster. Any longer and all the good theories for what everyone expects to happen will have been taken, and the whole idea will have to be put back on the shelf for five or more years.
  • by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @03:43PM (#12616106) Journal
    Ah yes the denial sits in. Some things to ponder:
    1. If it's not the JVMs, then why are all java desktop apps of size slow? Oh sure, blame the programmer, I dare you.

    2. The C/C++ argument is fallacious in its very nature. Comparing well-written java code to crap C code doesn't count (O(n) algorithms vs O(n^2) on string ops, please!).

    Here's some intuition why it's fallacious: C/C++ can always express everything that a java app can, only it doesnt have the overhead of a JVM. The runtime translation will always take time during execution, while a C/C++ app had all that done at compile time. As the JVM is itself a C/C++ app, it can only add overhead to a java app in comparison to a C/C++ app.

    The "Java is faster than C/C++" argument argues this:
    interpretation + JVM + C < C
    (speaking in overheads).

    I call that false.
  • by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @04:41PM (#12616889)

    A hooker is every so much cheaper than a Powerbook.

    Plus, they don't care if you never call them again.

    Additional bonus in not having to be nauseatingly pretentious.
  • by javaxman ( 705658 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @04:56PM (#12617046) Journal
    If Apple does start making machines with Intel processors, you can bet the new machines will be able to run PowerPC binaries through emulation. I don't think they're dumb enough to make all existing Mac software stop working on new machines and think people would be willing to "upgrade" their Apple hardware

    Which is all part of why I don't think Apple is going to abandon the PowePC. It's too invested in Altivec, for starters. It'd be more likely that Apple would release an OS X for Intel, leveraging some existing cheap PC manufacturing, for some sort of low-low-end machine. People with newer Macs ( and PowerPC-only software ) thus wouldn't buy it, and it'd be like "look at this pathetically cheap stuff you Windows folks are forced to work with, but if you want it cheap, you can at least have it nice and OS X-y"... not that they're going to do that. But they could. By actually having some cheap-ass plant in asia somewhere cranking out nearly-standard Intel PC stuff, they could probably do it cheap enough that they'd be able to keep selling the "true" PowerPC Macs as well.

    They *could*, in theory, also go the 'fat binaries' route, just like NeXT did. They stopped making their own hardware and sold _just_ software for x86 machines. According to some [slashdot.org], it actually sold pretty well. If they did it today with OS X, it'd sell a hell of a lot better. And sure, maybe they'd throw in some sort of PearPC-style emulation engine ( maybe they'd "leverage" the existing open source project, what the heck ), that's not a bad idea, although it's clearly a stop-gap idea. I don't use Classic; people in practice upgrade the things they can and only use emulation where they have no other choice ( unless performance is not an issue at all ). People who really objected to getting new apps and moving to OS X are still clinging to OS 9's cold, dead body, and many of them will stay that way until their machines give up the ghost.

    My point is that if Apple went to another CPU across the board ( not happening, folks! ), third-party developers would as a general rule, be able to offer cheap 'upgrades' as porting would be a snap, much like it was in the NeXTStep for Intel case. For most people, this would mean new software; emulation would be the exception, not the rule.

    Again, I don't think that's the current strategy, unless they're finding that IBM just won't or can't get it together, in which case anything could happen. I think they'll give IBM another couple of years before doing anything drastic though, and this is just pre-WWDC media confusion. Not that I know anything... but IBM is getting a lot of dollars from these game console makers, which hopefully will fund more chip R&D and manufacturing infrastructure, eventually boosting their offerings for Apple. If not, Apple does have options.

    On the other hand, the current G5 machines aren't exactly slow. They're pretty damn fast, actually. I think going Intel would have to be about price, and with the Mac Mini, I don't think that's any longer a very valid reason.

  • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Monday May 23, 2005 @09:50PM (#12619559) Homepage
    x86 processor (if they change)
    standard pci (and AGP) bus
    commodity ram
    ide/sata drives and connections
    All the hardware interfaces would be 100% compatible with a pc.

    You are not getting low level enough. Think timers, interrupt controllers, etc. All this low-level baggage being carried around from 8088 days. Now toss in the various glue logic ...

    In other words you are only referring to things that plug into the motherboard, I am referring to how things are implemented on the motherboard.

BLISS is ignorance.