Apple on Non-PPC: A Rumors Perspective

Discussion in 'MacRumors News Discussion (archive)' started by arn, Aug 7, 2002.

  1. arn
    macrumors god


    Staff Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    There's been a rush of Apple on Intel discussion/speculation over the past few days in the Mac Media. Mac OS X on Intel/Non-PPC is not a new topic of discussion and crops up almost as frequently as the Apple PDA rumors.

    The recent surge was triggered by one analyst's opinion (CNet)... and is certainly not an original thought. Speculation began in March 2000, ever since Darwin was first compiled for Intel... since then, the topic has returned on numerous occasions but without even a rumor as a foundation. Historically, these is some basis for it - as Apple did have a project (Star Trek) bringing Mac OS to Intel.

    Rumor-wise, the most striking trend that appears is Apple pursuing further independence...

    Some have felt that the recent introductions of iCal and an updated Mail client are attempts to replicate Entourage functionality. While, conspiracists continue to believe that a Sun-Apple StarOffice is in the works... and other signs point to an Apple Office suite may be a direction.

    Phasing out OS 9 can also be seen as a move to isolate Mac OS as a platform independent entity... but would also serve the purpose of pushing developers and users to adopt the new platform.

    NVidia has also received much attention as a possible chipset on which to base a new platform. The PowerPC has been the assumed processor on such a motherboard, but a new columnist at Spymac speculates that it may be a complete departure. An NVidia-Apple partnership is not a new concept in the Mac rumor scene - with an April, 2002 Architosh article hinting at an NVidia-Apple partnership, as well as subsequent nForce 2 and Apple hints.

    In the end, no true specifics are presently available, but Apple seems dedicated to PPC... for now.
  2. macrumors 6502a


    May 29, 2002
    32° 44' N 117° 10' W
    I hope Apple does terminate their relationship with Motorola and switch to AMD,so OSX can be more productive and efficient:D
  3. macrumors 65816


    Jul 7, 2002
    Los Angeles, CA
    Motorola has GOT to go, but since IBM has this new chip coming out in October, maybe Apple should not go with Intel or AMD. We shall see...
  4. macrumors regular


    Jul 16, 2002
    Northborough, MA
    now i know im probly wrong with what im going to say but, i'll say it anyways.

    I know moto is really killing the mac with there slow development, but switching to AMD or a nightmarish thought of Intel:eek: . isn't a switch like that makeing a 180, i mean apple has stayed away from any connection to M$ compatable products. I would't mind paying an extra 200$ for a IBM processor. If apple ever whent to a AMD, or Intel Prcessor, it just would't seem like a mac any more but instead a fancy pc, with a fancy os. not a totaly diffrent computer.
  5. macrumors 6502


    David Coursey wrote...

    "Getting away from Motorola--a company that seems to go through a major reorg every three to six months--is probably a good thing. Can it really be counted on to develop PowerPC into the future? And even if it can, what's to stop Apple from using AMD's "Intel" chips in its low-end machines and PowerPC processors in high-end systems? That's precisely what I might do if I were Apple-CEO-for-Life Steve Jobs."

    I say: Considering the development rates of both Moto and Intel/AMD, I think that the reverse would be wiser.

    "For Apple, going from PowerPC to Intel is a bigger leap conceptually than practically. Back at Next, Steve Jobs made the transition from Motorola to Intel. And, as I said before, Apple's OS X, based on Unix, would be a straightforward port from PowerPC to Intel."

    I say: Not true. The OS is one thing. Mac-on-x86-compatible apps, however, are an entirely different matter.

    "What would that mean to you? Someday soon you may be able buy a machine that boots whichever OS you choose--Windows or Mac."

    I say: Amen to that! Talk about the best of both worlds.

    "May the best OS win."

    I say: Nahh. Would you really want an Apple *or* a MS with no competition at all?

    Check out,10738,2876696,00.html

    I'd love to hear the comments on this.
  6. macrumors 6502


    Zugand04 wrote:

    Nah. Both x86 and PPC processors churn out 0s and 1s. They both do the same thing, just a little differently. What makes a Mac a Mac is the OS. And having Windows bootability would give Mac users hiterto incomparable flexibility--something the Dells and the Gateways would never be able to claim. Hey... they might actually be forced to... gulp... innovate!
  7. macrumors member

    Mar 6, 2002
    I personally believe that, if push comes to shove, Apple will first make an offer to buy the ailing microprocessor division from Motorola. It just makes sense: bring processor R&D internal.

    It would mean that Apple would be devoting as much time to processor design as industrial design...this would yield faster chips at a faster rate. Simply jumping to another chip manufacturer is not the only option here.

    Plus, you have to keep in mind that Intel architecture is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, no matter how Darwin or OS X is compiled. There is no "Velocity Engine"...without an altivec unit, all of those nifty instructions in photoshop and other multimedia programs go right to hell. Steve Jobs wants strong multimedia performance, and he's WAAAY too fond of altivec to simply switch to another chip.

    The only scenario that I could imagine that would involve another chip manufacturer would be an nVidia-developed chip compatible with PowerPC architecture with a licensed altivec unit implementation. However, between the costs of R&D, along with licensing costs for altivec (remember, thats why IBM won't license altivec, too much $$$), it would probably be cheaper just to propose a buy-out of the microprocessor division of Motorola.

    Thats just my $0.02, though. Sorry for the rant, its just that this "rumor" has been bothering me since its inception.

    -- smashedapart
  8. macrumors member


    Jul 16, 2002
    Nowhere to be found
    Re: Apple on Non-PPC: A Rumors Perspective


  9. macrumors 65816


    Jan 19, 2002
    Re: Re: Apple on Non-PPC: A Rumors Perspective

    Yeah, it's like a rave for emotionally aware unsigned garage bands who wear vintage Levi's.
  10. macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2002
    Portland, OR
    One thing that needs to be cleared up here. If apple did decide to switch to X86 you still couldn't install Windows on a Mac and the new X86 version of Mac OS X wouldn't install on a PC. It might use a X86 processor from Intel or AMD, but it's not a PC. It would still be a special Apple board and use the small bit of ROM that Apple has stuck with over the years to keep companies from cloning their boards. I have a Cisco 2600 router with a 68K processor, but it doesn't run System 7. I have a Cisco Catalyst 6009 Switch with a MSFC unit that runs a PowerPC chip, but it doesn't run OS 9 or X. There's a lot more than just the chip to making it a Mac and Apple would surely make sure that OS X wouldn't install on just any PC. A large part of the price of your system is going to develop the Mac OS and all those great "i" apps. If everyone bought a $200 copy of Mac OS X and put it on a 400 P4 PC Apple would die in no time. They're not dumb. Don't pretend like they are.

  11. macrumors newbie

    Jul 19, 2002
    if Apple DID move to x86-64, it would be great if they kept OpenFirmware, in all its uber-coolness. the x86-64 has 16 128-bit vectorish registers (an extension from 8) but the G4 has 32 of em... does anyone know what the register usage is like in AltiVec-enabled programs?
  12. macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2002
    MacOS X on alternate processor

    Let's think about this one a bit:
    1. Nothing can happen, as a practical matter, before WWDC 2003. That's when all the major developers will be in one place, and where the big pitch would happen for cross-compiling everything.
    2. Why on Earth would Apple go through the pain of a processor switch, then move to an architecture limited to 4GB of RAM? By the time the transition is done, it will be obsolete. They have several 64 bit choices, from Intel's IA64 to AMD's x86-64, to the original "620" PowerPC spec hammered out ages ago, to POWER4/5, or even another RISC like Alpha, MIPS, or PA-RISC.
    3. The entire point of moving would be to ride the wave of economy of scale. For example, it would do little good to move to Alpha and be in the same boat in a few years. It only makes sense to re-use something from the PC-compatible chipmakers. This again makes IA64 and x86-64 prime candidates.
    4. There are no major technical hurdles. MacOS X's app packaging allows any number of architectures to be shipped in an app. Both Carbon and Cocoa are fairly straightforward ports. Even drivers aren't a huge deal, with MOSX's embedded C++ base classes picking up most of the heavy lifting in the port. (ie. porting a driver to MOSX in the first place is probably significantly harder than porting it to a new processor.)
    5. Macs using x86 does not mean Windows compatibility, and vice-versa. A chip is a chip, and a motherboard and BIOS is a whole 'nother ball of wax. Apple is fond of doing their own PCI and peripheral chips, among other things, although perhaps some of nVidia's new chipsets will persuade them to be more generic.
    6. The system would probably scream. Apple could easily ship MacOS X Server on Intel, as a $600 server-only software package, without cannibalizing their consumer hardware sales which could remain on PowerPC. Alternately, the next xServe could be a x86-64 system while iMacs stayed PowerPC for years. It doesn't have to be an either-or thing, and the transition can be gradual as long as it's planned in advance. (Certainly smoother than the PowerPC transition, which, while not bad, still suffered from Apple's refusal to use the 68060 and rely too much on emulation.)
    7. Please, God, keep emulation to a minimum! If there's anything we learned from the PowerPC transition, it's that.

    In the long run, though, I agree with the analyst that, barring some breakthrough, it doesn't make sense for Apple to stick with PowerPC.
  13. macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2002
    All up in your bidness
    Re: Zugand04 wrote:

    It would also kill OS X, or at least drive it further into a tiny niche. Developers would ask why they should bother porting to the Mac when Macs already run Windows. Windows running on a Mac might be good for the consumer in the short term, but it would be very bad in the long term.

    I don't think the OS is what makes the Mac, nor is the PowerPC. What makes the Mac is the integration of the hardware & software and the whole computing experience, unavailable pretty much everywhere else, that results.

  14. macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2002
    All up in your bidness
    Re: MacOS X on alternate processor

    When you say it doesn't make sense for Apple to stick with PowerPC, do you mean the current PowerPC G3s and G4s, or do you mean the all-encompassing PowerPC architecture? I think most people here would agree that Apple needs faster chips than the G3 and G4. But what the switch-to-x86 people neglect to consider is that PowerPC is a strong architecture with a very bright future, regardless of how it looks right now.

  15. macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2002
    Re: Re: MacOS X on alternate processor

    I mean using any PowerPC chips for desktop use. Of course PowerPC chips are major players in the embedded market, but that basically means very low power chips that are underpowered for desktop or server use. POWER, a close relative, is a very high end chip that's nice if you can afford it. In the middle, there is only Apple using PowerPCs. There's no way they can stay cost competitive producing an order of magnitude or two fewer parts.

    1800+ Athlons are RETAILing for $100 these days (I dropped one into my PC last weekend. I'd have rather put it in my Mac.) The PowerPC originally promised double the performance or half the price. Now x86 is double the performance AT half the price. It's all economy of scale. Elegance is all nice and good, but I'd rather run on a fast x86 than an elegant but slow PowerPC. And don't kid yourself-- MacOS X would be a whole lot faster on a 2100+ Athlon than a dual 1GHz G4. Wouldn't that be great?

    But as I said, even the x86 architecture can't possibly last more than a handful of years, either, because of its 32-bittedness. It will be a turning point in the industry, and I think everyone is going to be making an ABI change in the next 4-5 years. Apple just has to join the crowd for their next CPUs and differentiate themselves elsewhere. If they chose wisely and push this early, they'll be ahead of the game. With AMD and Intel battling hard to control the next ABI, Apple has some negotiating power here, too, if they use it.
  16. macrumors 65816

    Mar 31, 2002
    Maryland, USA
    As much as some people don't like it, in order for Apple to survive, they are going to need to maintain Classic support in one form or another for several more years to come. Sometimes it takes a decade for educators to upgrade their systems. Think for a moment where we were a decade ago? The age of LCs, and some of the II machines. No PCI support, and finding an ethernet card if you didn't purchase one back then is going to be very hard today. If they want those educational institutions to upgrade to a newer Mac, they are going to need to make migration as easy as possible, and as inexpensive as possible. If they manage to pull this off without hurting some people it will be nothing short of a miracle.
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 17, 2002
    Bay of Fundy
    personally, I like the nVidia route. Apple seems to be moving towards a platform (like game consoles for example) where the graphics chip, GPU, is just as important as the CPU (just look at Quartz Extreme). Making the GPU more central to basic functions of the OS is key, and who better that a graphics company to work with on this; I just wish it were ATI (LONG LIVE CANADIAN TECHNOLOGY!!!)
  18. macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2002
    Apple and NEW-PPC

    Apple will no doubt evolve it CPU but Intel is not the only option. IBM has new cell supercomputing chip.(

    What is to say this is not the "option" Steve Jobs is talking about?
  19. macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2002
    Re: MacOS X on alternate processor

    I think that Apple is now considering what to do when they move to a 64 bit processor. The problem is not that the PowerPC doesn't do 64 bit, it does. The PowerPC is actually 64 bit ISA with 32 bit implementations. This means that the instruction set doesn't really change all that much to go to 64 bit; actually, it opens up some of the instructions that aren't currently used. The problem with the 64 bit PPC is that no-one has committed to producing a consumer computer level 64 bit PowerPC processor. The POWER3/4 are both 64 bit PPC ISA implementations (they also do legacy POWER instructions). However, they are for higher end applications (i.e. starting at $12,500). The IA64 architecture is finally mature enough to be usable, but offers no significant advantage in performance over the POWER4 or US-III, and uses just as much power. The main advantage to IA64 is that it may be cheaper than the alternatives (economies of scale). X86-64 is an unknown, no-one knows for sure how it will fit or perform, but it will probably consume more power when compared to the other architectures, it still has all of the IA32 compatibility circuitry. The problem with all of the 64 bit chips is that they use around 100-150 watts in normal operations. These are unlikely to go into a notebook anytime soon. So far the processors in the Powerbooks are no different that those in the Powermacs.

    In the end some of this argument is a moot point. Does word processing really need to be any faster, I can still only type x number of words a minute, and I have to be able to see where to stop when scrolling. Web browsing, part of that is the design of the browser, since the relative speeds change appreciably from one browser to the next, and it is going to be hard to beat the OS level calls that Win32 IE makes, besides I personally find browsing speed to be acceptable. The real need for speed is in the number crunching arena. The problem here is multi-fold,

    1. The G4 needs lower latency access to main memory, i.e. DDR and a faster FSB clock.

    2. 512K of on die L2 would help, especially if it is split efficiently into smaller blocks, i.e. keep the 9 cycle latency for lookups, hits, and retrieves.

    3. Math and other libraries need to be optimized appropriately, i.e. JAVA needs to be allowed to make use of FMA floating point ops. Coding schemes that run fast and compiler-level optimize well for the IA32 do not for the PPC.

    4. An auto-vectorizer similar toi Intel's compilers needs to be available.

    5. A 64 bit architecture needs to be settles upon.
  20. macrumors member

    Jul 24, 2002
    If apple wer to go to x86 chips I would be a little apprehensive at first. It would seem like I was switching to the other OS. But after a while I'd get use to using OS X on x86.

    This is not to say that I think this would be a wise move. Granted, the current chips from AMD and Intel are faster in clock speed and perfomance, but we need to consider something. The PowerPC is without question, a more efficient and powerful processor MHz for MHz. Put the G4 up against as closely a MHz match from AMD's XP or Intel's P4 and the G4 would trump them on most, if not all, benchmarks.

    The fact of the matter is that Motorola has no competition and no real desire to do desktop processors. I really think Apple should stick with the PowerPC architecture, they just have to find some way to get faster chips. Now if we had a 2GHz PowerPC, I think that it would most likely bet out the current crop of chips based on x86. And adding full DDR support to that would give us a killer system.
  21. macrumors 6502

    May 4, 2001
    Montgomery, AL USA
    Well, here are the problems

    A) PR Nightmare. They have spent the past ten years bashing intel and the past 7 bashing CISC, then they change and guess what, they loose credibility in the market.

    B) Cost. Not just in the future, but what they have spent on making everything run on RISC, optimizing everything for Alti-Vec... etc. Not to mention the money they have spent on A. ;)

    C) The cisc chips from INTEL and AMD aren't that ground breaking, they are actualy quite unefficient. Think about it, those cisc, even the new hammers, are designed to work with legacy designed mobo's and archetectures. If apple would switch to anything, it would be nice to see them go with a higher class non legacy risc chip like IBM's new CELL chip, which run at lower speeds but are 4 - 10 times faster than a 2.5 gigahertz p4 :) + they are inexpensive, and can do SMD super super easy. (hence why they are called CELL, like animal cells, hundreds of them can link together easily, and they are TINY compared to some of the other chips out there)
  22. macrumors member

    Jul 8, 2002
    Finally, someone who knows what is going on!!
  23. macrumors 603


    Re: Zugand04 wrote:

    The fact that future Macs wil not even boot on OS9 is your indicator of things to come. Unix kernal is OS agnostic and processor agnostic. A today Mac for example can boot OS9 and thus VCP running every major flavor of Wintel OS on a "virtual machine".

    OSX classic is OS9 on a "virtual machine". In short very son now your main OS will be Unix/OSX and any legacy applications will run on virtual machines smoother, faster, more reliably than they did on legacy hardware!

    This is a goo thing. Furthermore this whole environment will run on whatever chips happen to be hooked underneath. Right now the debate is PowerPC v Intel v AMD. But in the near future it will be Sparc v Power v BioChip(tm).

    This is the very leading edge of the "new era" in computing. On the lower end the CPU agnostic OS allows use in embedded systems like phones and pagers and dishwashers.

    We are witnessing the first round of an infection perhaps more pervasive and long lasting than any windows variant, which itself was lisenced from, um, APPLE!.

  24. macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2002
    "Now Ipod for PCs too," soon Jaguar for Intel/AMD PCs.
  25. agp
    macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2002

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