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Thoughts on Apple moving to Intel

Blogged in Apple by Andrew · Monday June 6, 2005

So Apple admits the unthinkable, they really have been compiling and running MacOS X on Intel all these years, just in case. With the talk about reduced power consumption, I’d think they must be looking at the Pentium M chips as the Pentium 4 & Pentium D don’t exactly sip the power. Two dual-core Pentium M chips in a PowerMac could be quite the screamer and I’d bet still lower power consumption than a current single-core G5. One has to wonder if they aren’t looking at AMD also, as I recall, the Athlons use quite a bit less power than the P4s, though I don’t recall how they compare to the Pentium Ms.

Rosetta. Running PowerPC-compiled apps on the Intel. I can admit to having tried the impressive PearPC, but slow didn’t even begin to describe the initial experience. Admittedly I tried it again a few months later with a newer build and it was significantly faster but still barely usable in my book.

One potentially huge benefit would be VirtualPC. If the switch enables VirtualPC to run WinXP on OS X as fast as VirtualPC currently works on a Windows-based PC, that’d be pretty cool. What I’d really like to see is another Apple branded technology announced for 10.5 basically building in VirtualPC technology. Running Windows apps directly without actually loading a VirtualPC-type Windows XP system? Despite the potential security issues, that would be impressive and really eliminate a major reason for the average consumer to shy away from the Mac platform. Alas, no announcement on any such thing today, hopefully they’re just keeping that one a secret until 10.5 is closer. :)

So, a completely new lineup of dual-core Intel-based PowerMacs coupled with another release of MacOS X (10.5 Leopard) in time for Longhorn. Could Apple actually be giving Microsoft a serious run for their money?

Interesting tidbit from MacRumors.com… Developer transition kit – 3.6Ghz P4, for select and premier developers only $999. Tack on $500 for the Select Developer membership, not bad at all. Cheaper than even the bottom-rung PowerMac Single 1.8ghz G5 in the developer program at $1199 (+$500), I can’t wait to see the full specs and how it compares in speed.

Update: Bummer, you have to return the development P4 unit “by 2006″ when I’d imagine the true Intel-based units will be available.

2 Responses to “Thoughts on Apple moving to Intel”

  1. hink says:

    I dunno, it isn’t as shocking as Mac fans are making it out to be; PowerPC’s ISA was just out of control, and far enough away from its founding premise that its distinction from x86 was a stretch anymore. Well, that is a tad unfair, both “rivals” had certainly moved towards eachother in the intervening decade. I am also pretty sure that IBM had had enough of Mr. Jobs.

    what I am really curious about is the efficacy of this Rosetta dealybob, where it sits as far as abstraction, and how good it will be at translating stuff on the fly, though I guess Cupertino is banking on the raw numbers to cope with any chug-chug latency issues it might have.

    Very interesting.

  2. Andrew says:

    The most amusing part of Rosetta, if PearPC is any indication, will be the laptops outperforming the desktops. That is of course assuming the desktops end up with chips of the Pentium 4 / Pentium D variety and the laptops with Pentium M chips. I question if that will be the case though, I can’t imagine Apple is going to like their laptops being as low as half the clock speed of their desktops, despite being faster in some areas. In reality I’m guessing they’ll hold off on the desktops for the next big chip from Intel, based off the Pentium M but designed for desktops. Of course if anybody’s to be unafraid of the ‘megahertz myth’ it certainly should be Apple.

    One thing I know for sure, I REALLY hope they don’t intend to adopt Intel’s nightmare of a new model numbering scheme.

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